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What You Can Do To Strengthen Health Care Delivery for MLK Day

Nathan Sheon Head Shot to Use

Nathan Sheon

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) Day of Service will be recognized in communities across America on Monday, Jan. 20 as part of UnitedWe Serve – the President’s annual national call to service initiative. A powerful catalyst that organizes and promotes local volunteer programs to benefit diverse populations, it “empowers individuals, strengthens communities, bridges barriers, creates solutions to social problems, and moves us closer to Dr. King’s vision of a ‘Beloved Community.’”

Recognized as a “day on, not a day off” since 1994, the MLK Day of Service is the only federal holiday observed as a national day of service. The campaign’s programs address a wide range of issues that include poverty, education and access to food, in addition to sponsoring numerous initiatives that intersect with health care. This year, the MLK Day of Service aims to empower people to advocate for and educate their communities about how to live healthfully, from working out to making better eating choices and obtaining the latest information on implications of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Some of the ways you can help raise awareness about health interventions that will help your volunteering to last beyond one day, include:

  •  Organizing a local fitness event
  •  Informing people in your local community about how the new health care law effects them
  • Teaching a class on healthful cooking and eating
  •  Educating low- and middle-income families on opportunities to access affordable health care for their children

The MLK Day of Service website also includes a multitude of communications tools, such as:

But why serve on MLK Day and join the movement to help transform communities and improve health care delivery?

“Dr. King devoted his life to advancing equality, social justice, and economic opportunity for all, and taught us that everyone has a role to play in making America what it ought to be,” Robert Velasco II, acting CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service, said in a statement. “Now more than ever, we need to take heed of Dr. King’s teachings and work together to achieve his dream. Volunteer service is a powerful way to strengthen economic opportunity. And when better to start than on the day we honor Dr. King?”

Organizers of the MLK Day of Service hope that by giving advocates and allies the tools and information to make their projects newsworthy, word of the initiative will spread – along with the success of new and innovative service projects. The event provides volunteers with the critical resources they need to establish grassroots campaigns and service projects that they believe will empower individuals and local communities to make more informed choices across the spectrum of health.

Now share your story. Are you participating in the MLK Day of Service, and if so, tell us why. Have you – or someone you know – volunteered in one or more programs? What impact did it have in your local community?

Categories: Access to Care

Toys “R” Us Guide Makes the Season Brighter for Children with Special Needs

As we enter the holiday season, shoppers have the opportunity to turn to the Toy Guide for Differently-Abled Kids – an annual publication put out by Toys “R” Us. This valuable resource is designed to give parents, relatives, friends and professionals the information they need to make more educated choices about purchasing gifts for children with unique talents and abilities.

Paul DeMiglio

Paul DeMiglio

Gabby Douglas, a gold-medalist gymnast in the 2012 Olympics, is featured on this year’s edition and says the guide is “filled with everyday playthings, specially chosen to help kids build key skills, like creativity, language and critical thinking, reach new milestones and have fun at the same time.” Douglas is the most recent in a long line of celebrities and philanthropists who have appeared on the guide’s front cover, including Whoopi Goldberg, Eva Longoria and Maria Shriver.

“We understand the joy of watching a child experience victories through the magic of play, whether they’re learning to catch and throw a ball, role-playing through dress-up or learning to count using an app on their very first tablet,” said Kerry Smith, Toys “R” Us spokesperson. “For nearly two decades, we have been providing parents and caregivers with product recommendations for children with special needs through the trusted Toys“R”Us Toy Guide for Differently-Abled Kids. This annual resource is filled with everyday playthings selected as appropriate in helping kids build critical skills and reach new milestones – all while having fun at the same time.”

The guide provides shoppers with specific questions to help ensure that their selections match the developmental needs of the children for whom they’re shopping. Customers are encouraged to consider whether the toy fosters creativity and self-expression, if it provides a challenge without being frustrating, if it allows for adaptability to the child’s needs, whether the toy reflects the child’s interests and age, and much more.

The guide also shares numerous safety suggestions for parents and guardians so they can more effectively prevent accidental injuries and help children understand how to keep out of harm’s way during playtime:

  • Never leave a child unsupervised
  • Read labels for ability
  • Survey the play area
  • Establish concrete rules
  • Use visual warnings
  • Review and repeat
  • Prepare for off-site play dates
  • Click here for the full list

The toys were evaluated and tested by the National Lekotek Center, a non-profit that examines toys’ therapeutic qualities in aiding the development of children with physical, cognitive or developmental disabilities. A leader in the field with almost 30 years’ experience, Lekotek studies and reviews hundreds of toys, selecting those that benefit children. This information is then sent to Toys “R” Us for placement in the guide. Toys are categorized according to various child development needs such as visual, auditory, social skills and motor skills, among others.

If you would like to know more about the guide and the company’s philanthropic events, visit the new Toy Channel on YouTube, which includes an “‘R’ News” section that features information about charitable contributions. The guide can be found in any Toys “R” Us store or can be viewed online here.

Have you or someone you know ever used the Toy Guide for Differently-Abled Kids? Did it address your questions and make toy shopping for children with special needs easier? What challenges have you faced when purchasing toys for children with special needs, and what resources have you found helpful when making decisions?

Categories: Access to Care