Saturday, September 21, 2013

JACOB'S FUND :: Round 2 for Kyle

Amy, Kyle's therapist, helping him get ready to ride.

Sometimes we are lucky enough to see the world tilt a little toward the good. This past Thursday night was one of those times. 

There was Kyle, riding his horse, Dallas, during a hippotherapy session at Hilltop Equestrian Center in western Ohio. Alongside him were his therapist and horse handler. Concentrating intensely, Kyle had just completed a matching and sequencing exercise with colored rings and flags.  

During the sequencing exercise atop his horse, Dallas
He urged the horse forward, using the muscles he is developing through therapy, and Dallas began to trot gently. Suddenly all eyes and ears were on Kyle whose laughter filled the entire indoor arena with the sound.  

“This is music to my ears,” said Kelli, Kyle’s mom. We couldn’t agree more!

Kyle completed his first six-week session of hippotherapy over this past summer thanks to your financial support. Amy, his therapist, reports that his core strength increased, his balance improved, and toward the end of the six weeks, she saw (and heard) him vocalizing much more. At this first night of his second session, he picked right up where he left off, building on the strength and skill he’d gained during the last session.

Therapy includes many trips around the arena

The Red Thread team loves hippotherapy because we see measurable results. But what we love more than anything is the changes that we see happening to families when:
  • Their child is at last able to communicate their needs or express the pleasure he or she feels when playing with their brothers and sisters.  
  • A little one—who could not stand independently—walks into the living room unaided. 
  • Their child—who could not talk—whispers “Good night, Mommy” for the first time.  
  • A child gets out of the car at the carpool drop off, is greeted by another child and they walk away hand-in-hand.
These are the small miracles that we witness, made possible by your gifts to Jacob’s Fund.

We’re thrilled, as we know you are, that Kyle is growing in strength and capability. We eagerly look forward to seeing him reach new goals and sharing those accomplishments with you.

But we’re ecstatic that, on Thursday evening as the sun began to set over the rolling hills and farmland surrounding Hilltop, Kyle, not waiting for his parents to hold his hand, hurried into the barn to find his horse and begin riding.

Kelli holding Kyle up to peek in at a horse

Friday, September 20, 2013

HAITI :: Shifting the paradigm from immobility to mobility

TRTP President, Kathy, showing off one of our ATWs

Independence is a precious gift, especially to people with disabilities. 

Each time The Red Thread Promise gives an All Terrain Wheelchair (ATW) to an impoverished child, teen or adult in Haiti, we shift the paradigm from immobility toward mobility. Through these gifts—gifts that you have made possible—lives are being changed. 

In the US and other countries, many resources are available for people who can't walk:
  • quality medical care and treatment
  • insurance policies and governmental programs to offset costs 
  • readily available manual wheelchairs
  • wheelchair-accessible vehicles and public transportation
  • facilities with wide doors, railings, ramps and elevators
  • solid infrastructure with smooth streets and sidewalks 
These opportunities give a wheelchair-bound person the chance to actively engage in life, moving about in their homes, schools and communities.

The scenario is quite different for a person under the same circumstances in a developing country like Haiti:
  • limited quality medical care is extremely costly with no subsidy 
  • lack of infrastructure—dirt roads, sand, rocky surfaces—makes passage in a standard wheelchair nearly impossible
  • wheelchairs that perform well on rough terrain are financially out of reach for most Haitians, often costing upwards of 6 years wages* 
But there is hope! 

We are committed to raising the funds for another full container of wheelchairs that will change more lives. Each shipment holds 100 - 120 ATWs plus maintenance parts. These durable wheelchairs are made from inexpensive bicycle parts that keep the cost low—$350 each—and simplify upkeep and maintenance. They are specifically designed to pass over Haiti's rough terrain, giving independence that most recipients have never experienced.

With your support, we will fill this container and continue giving the gift of mobility to those in need. Donations can be made through our website. Thank you!

*The gross national income per capita in Haiti is US$660. Source: World Bank 2010

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

HAITI :: The Case for Nutrition

Providing a constant source of nutrition is critical for a child’s development. 

This comes as no big surprise in 2013.

Article after article and study after study confirms that nutrition is directly linked to all aspects of a child’s growth and development, factors that have direct ties to their level of health as adults. We all know that vitamin rich food helps children fight off colds and other illnesses, keeping them healthier longer. It is common knowledge that establishing nutritious eating habits as a child sets the foundation for healthy choices as an adult.

These are such widely accepted concepts in developed countries, but so challenging to implement in Haiti. Dire poverty, lack of environmental resources for farming and high food prices are just a few of the numerous obstacles contributing to childhood malnutrition in developing countries.

According to Dr. Charlotte G. Neumann (UCLA School of Public Health):
“The combination of malnutrition and infection is the leading cause of death among young children in developing countries. Malnutrition alone is estimated to account for over half of children’s deaths annually. Other leading causes of deaths are malaria, acute respiratory infections, diarrheal disease [cholera], tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS, frequently complicated by varying degrees of malnutrition.” 

What are we doing about it? 
Everything we can thanks to your continued support.

Oxilus, a St. Vincent's student, enjoying a meal
During each trip, we hand-carry food and snacks to St. Vincent’s Center for Handicapped Children. We prepare meals with the children and staff in their kitchen that often exceeds 110 degrees. When we take St. Vincent’s students to Camp Jake—our annual summer camp for children with disabilities in Haiti—we provide 3 nutritious meals every day for every camper. We teach nutrition classes at camp and work with campers to make healthy choices whenever possible. We teach trades so the children can better support themselves as adults and they are able to purchase healthy food for their families.

That’s what we’re doing about it. We hope you will continue helping us bring food to these precious kids. Donations can be made through our website. Thank you!

Sources: Children’s Heart Center, UCLA School of Public Health / Charlotte G. Neumann, MD, MPH

Saturday, September 14, 2013

JACOB'S FUND :: McKenna Farms (GA, USA)

September 12, 2013

McKenna Farms has grown quickly over the summer, now serving more than 300 children weekly (up from 200), and an additional half-dozen therapists have come on board.  With 50 volunteers serving in a variety of capacities all over the farm, both the employee and patient parking lots were full to overflowing.

Glenna stopped by the new speech and occupational therapy wings housed in two new trailers alongside the farmhouse and said hello to some of the therapists and patients. 

In just the last few weeks, the barn has been opened up in the middle and handsome red-painted canopy graces the new entrance.

Thanks to The Rotary Club of Dallas, Georgia, concrete replaces dirt floors in the barn, and covers the walkway to the outdoor arena and the entrance area bordering the patient's parking lot.

We at The Red Thread Promise look forward to meeting some of the new children and determining how we can help those who need our support.  Currently, 50 children receive hippotherapy/therapeutic riding in the indoor arena each week.

The Red Thread Promise has plans of our own for the Jacob Beachy Sensory Trail, with improvements scheduled for spring 2014.  We'll have more on our spring mission trip soon.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

JACOB'S FUND :: Spirit

As Glenna’s mother always told her, be useful as well as ornamental. Spirit is indeed both. Spirit is Cameron and Landon's hippotherapy horse. 

Jacob's Fund (a program of The Red Thread Promise), which Glenna + Bernie’s family started to honor the memory and spirit of their three-year-old grandson, Jacob Noah Beachy, is providing riderships to Cameron and Landon.

Here's some of Landon and Cameron's story:

Spirit, the handsome therapy horse, tried on his costume for the Special Olympics State Horse Show today. You look great, Spirit! Thanks so much to all of the volunteers who are dedicating their time and talents!

Monday, September 2, 2013

HAITI :: Putting the "labor" in Labor Day :: A computer lab for St. Vincent’s

A year round gift
Never have a row of cardboard boxes lining a hallway ever looked so wonderful! That's because these aren't just any boxes; they are filled to the brim with gifts from our supporters at Elkins PLC for the students, faculty and staff at St. Vincent’s Center for Handicapped Children.

What's in those 16 boxes you might ask?

Each box holds a Dell desktop computer—including hard drive, keyboard, speaker and monitor—the foundation for the new computer lab (laboratories d’informatique) at St. Vincent’s in Port-au-Prince. The lab has been designed to meet the needs of all students regardless of ability: the room and desks will be wheelchair accessible; computers will be outfitted with braille and other software specific for the student's varying needs. 

Tom Landry II diligently wrapping monitors and keyboards 

Elkins PLC, a boutique commercial real estate firm in New Orleans, offered the computers following partner Shawn Richard’s recent trip to Haiti as a Red Thread volunteer and Camp Jake counselor. So profound was Shawn’s experience with St. Vincent’s students that he and the firm aspired to further students’ ability to engage more of the world on a daily basis. Elkin’s gift of technology is the first of many to bring this dream to fruition.

Shawn, partner at Elkins PLC, with a St. Vincent's student in Haiti

The concept for the lab builds on Camp Jake Director, Tom Landry II’s vision for Camp Jake. "The Red Thread’s goal is to broaden the horizons of each member of the St. Vincent's community. Beginning with Camp Jake in 2012, St. Vincent's students are brought to the Haitian coast for a 7-day camp filled with new experiences geared toward building self-confidence and societal awareness. The computer lab will build on this foundation, giving residents of St. Vincent's a porthole through which to explore the world beyond their native Haiti and, in the process, learn valuable computer skills that will serve them well into the future."

Prior to shipment, James Juneau of New Orleans based Axxess-IT prepared the computers with much needed software and updates. Today, Shawn and Tom put the “labor” in Labor Day as they packed box after box for the equipment’s scheduled departure this Tuesday. Finally, Haitian wireless service provider, Digicel, generously donated all of the furniture, paint, labor and wifi connection boxes for the entire lab. Digicel has also committed to maintaining the lab and providing free wifi to the entire St. Vincent’s campus.

Shawn wrapping individual computer speakers

With all of the boxing complete, a weary Tom is homeward bound

A hearty thanks to Elkins PLC, Axxess-IT and Digicel for their dedication to the children at St. Vincent’s! We look forward to sharing photos of the completed lab, which is slated to open in October 2013.