KVRR: Employment Summit in Moorhead
August 1st, 2014
Employment Summit in Moorhead
July 29, 2014
A summit at the Clay County Family Service Center on employment opportunities for people with disabilities gives them a chance to discuss concerns they face when looking for work, and conditions in the workplace.
Tawnya Taylor has Osteogenesis Imperfecta, also known as “Brittle Bone Disease.”
She works for the Freedom Resource Center, a group that pushes for equality for people with disabilities.
And she says they do a good job accommodating her needs.
Taylor says, “They’re very flexible, which not a lot of companies will do for you. A few adaptations were needed in my office and they were very good at both getting it done and getting it so that I can function and use my office.”
The summit covered topics like workplace accessibility and benefits special needs people receive.
Alyssa George of the Minnesota Disability Law Center says, “Going over employment, specifically with social security and how that works. If you want to return to work or obtain work for the 1st time and some of the barriers one might come into on that journey.”
JoAnn Sturmen works with seniors living at Eventide in Moorhead, and suffers from a bipolar disorder
She says coming to the session helped her as well.
“I just learned that there’s different websites and stuff you can get on to learn more about working and your disability.” Sturman said.
The session wasn’t just to find hopeful employees. Employers of people with disabilities were here as well. Giving the two sides a chance to network.
George says, “I’m hoping that it will be a start to exploring options and to reaching out to the various resources that we’re providing today.”
Taylor says, “It helps get rid of the stigma that if you have a disability, you’re less than a person.”
For more information on disability employment you can go to the Minnesota Disability Center website, at www.mndlc.org.
FOX News Reporter
Freedom Friday: Wheelchair Softball World Series will be in Minnesota
August 1st, 2014
It’s fast, competitive and comprised of dedicated athletes. For the first time, the National Wheelchair Softball World Series will be held in Brooklyn Park August 14-16, 2014.
The 14-team – possibly 16-team if Japanese and Nigerian teams are able to show – double-elimination championship will feature teams from around the country, and hosts of the three-day event are looking to fill volunteer slots. They are also looking for spectators.
“If they have never seen wheelchair softball, this will be pretty amazing,” said Sue Nyberg, coordinator of volunteers for the Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute, which is hosting the tournament locally for the National Wheelchair Softball Association, the tournament head.
The institute is part of Allina Health and is the result of a merger that took place a year ago between the Courage Center and Sister Kenny Rehabilitation Institute. Wheelchair softball teams associated with Courage Kenny have won 13 championships over the tournament’s 38-year history, said Sue Warner, a marketing and communications specialist for the rehabilitation center. The rehabilitation group helped form the National Wheelchair Association as well, she said.
“The Midwest has always kind of been a hotbed of the sport,” Warner said.
The tournament will be Thursday, Aug. 14, through Saturday, Aug. 16, with opening bracket play on three fields in Brooklyn Park. The championship game on Saturday, Aug. 16, will be played on the Todd Anderson Field in Northwoods Park, 7600 107th Ave., Brooklyn Park. Northwoods Park became the first fully accessible, competitive baseball park in the state about two years ago with the help of Minnesota Twins funding and the city of Brooklyn Park. Todd Anderson Field’s hard surface is similar to a tennis court, Nyberg said, but it has a little more of a “bouncy give to it,” she said. Players can back into little wooden slats when batting, which allows for a stable batting and a quicker jump to first-base.
For the tournament, Todd Anderson Field and the Brooklyn Park Library and Community Activity Center parking lots will comprise the three fields for Thursday and Friday games.
Courage Kenny sports coordinator Taavasa Mamea Jr. – who goes by “Junior” – said competition and play is as fast as any competitive slow-pitch game.
“If you love baseball, you’re going to love this game, especially a game that you’ve never seen played in a wheelchair,” he said. “It’s fast.”
The game has the same rules as softball, he said. Dead-center field is about 220 feet from home plate, he said. The softballs they use are a little softer and larger than a typical softball; otherwise, differences are negligible, he said.
The players have a varying range of injuries or physical disabilities, which is taken into account when the game rules are developed, organizers said.
Nyberg noted that the wheelchair is the “equalizer.” It takes strength, stamina and athleticism to be able to play the game using a lot of upper body strength and coordination. That goes for any wheelchair sport, she said.
“It doesn’t necessarily mean that because you’re more able-bodied that you’re going to be able to hit better,” she said. “In fact sometimes it doesn’t help you at all. Shooting a basket or hitting a ball is not as easy (in a wheelchair), so these are pretty amazing athletes when you think about it.”
With at least 14 teams playing on three fields over three days, nearly 500 volunteers will be needed for the event, organizers said. They currently have about 200 slots left to fill. The needs range from setup and take down to running scoreboards, keeping score books, selling T-shirts, taking registration and other roles. Volunteers must be at least 16 years old, Nyberg said, but they invite children, their families and area residents to check out the action.
“It’s really a game that’s fun to watch,” said Mamea. “It’s exciting. It’s really different.”
Visit bit.ly/1m0K9sr to sign up. Tournament action can be followed on Twitter at #2014WSWS.
Contact Paul Groessel at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow the Sun Post on Twitter @ECMSunPost