Category Archives: Stories

Family Has Adopted 88 Special Needs Kids in the Past Four Decades

By McKinley Corbley
Via GoodNewsNetwork.org

If you ever feel like complaining about the multitude of difficulties when dealing with your family, just think about the Geraldi clan and the calamities through which they’ve bravely persevered.

Over the course of the last four decades, Michael and Camille Geraldi have become the legal guardians of 88 special needs children and adults.

Ever since the couple first met in 1973 at the Miami Children’s Hospital, they knew that they were destined to care for kids. As Camille worked as a nurse, and Michael toiled as a pediatrician, they dedicated their careers to healing and watching over the young patients – some of whom had special needs and had been abandoned by their parents. Michael was renown for offering his services to low-income families free of charge, while Camille often spent late nights at the hospital reading to disabled children.

After they got married two years later, the lovebirds started adopting the disabled orphans from the hospital. The children were diagnosed with everything from autism to cerebral palsy, facial deformities to Down syndrome – whatever the difficulty, the Geraldis loved them all.

“I love these kids,” Camille told Good News Network. “Though it can be challenging, draining, exhausting work, when you have your faith you just keep going.”

By the time they had adopted 18 children – and gave birth to three of their own – they started the Possible Dream Foundation: a nonprofit to help finance their children’s futures, rehabilitation, education, work training, and treatment.

While Michael’s salaried income paid for most of their expenses, the family still needed assistance as their brood expanded in the 90s to include 31 youngsters. Their circumstances seemed even more dire after their Miami, Florida home was destroyed by Hurricane Andrew.

The Geraldis then moved to a farm in North Carolina where many of the children grew up to graduate from high school and became certified dog trainers.

The family suffered another disaster in 2011, however, when their farm was struck my lightning, causing a house fire that burned everything to the ground. But good fortune stepped in and they were offered a home in Georgia, which they made handicapped-accessible using the insurance money from their previous home.

Camille is now 68 years old – and even though she lost Michael to an aggressive cancer last year, she still has a mighty spirit for taking care of the children alongside a large team of volunteers.

How does she stay so motivated? Camille gives credit to divine inspiration.

“I think sometimes you’re just cut out to do it or you’re not” she says. “I do know that I’m doing God’s work—he plans the day and I just carry it out. He motivates me along the way.”

“I usually wear a mustard seed pinned to my shirt, and when I’m feeling drained and need a push, I touch it and he gives me the the energy and determination I need to make it through the hard times and the adversity.”

Even more striking than the years of intensive parenting and hospice care, is the fact that Camille had never taken time for a vacation until very recently.

She and Mike had planned to go on a cruise for their 40th wedding anniversary, taking their “first vacation ever,” but because of his diagnosis they had to cancel. This year she finally was able to relax on a seven-day trip.

Despite all the hardships, Camille continues to care for the Geraldi family with compassion, love, and unwavering selflessness.

70,000 Students With Disabilities Secluded, Restrained in School

Christina A. Samuels

One out of every 100 special education students was restrained by school personnel or secluded in school from his or her peers in the 2013-14 school year, presumably to quell behavior that teachers considered disruptive or dangerous.

That means nearly 70,000 special education students were restrained or secluded in that school year, the most recent for which data are available. For most students, this happened more than once: States reported more than 200,000 such incidents, so on average, a special education student was restrained or secluded about three times.

These statistics, based on an analysis by the Education Week Research Center of data collected by the U.S. Department of Education’s office for civil rights, represent the best national snapshot of these controversial practices.

The numbers are also, almost surely, dramatically understated.

Many large districts, including New York City and Chicago, were among the nearly 80 percent of districts that reported no special education students being restrained or secluded.

Advocacy groups and news organizations have investigated restraint and seclusion incidents in individual states and have found large undercounts. This is true even in states such as Indiana and Maine that have their own reporting requirements separate from the federal collection of civil rights data.

The shaky record keeping has serious consequences for students, who are traumatized or injured at unknown rates; teachers, who say they aren’t getting the help they need to deal with troubled students; and advocates and policymakers, who say they want to end inappropriate use of these practices.

The data also show how challenging it is to regulate restraint and seclusion through policy. Whether students are restrained or secluded appears to have more to do with the culture of the school or district they attend than with any state rules or regulations meant to restrict the practice. Researchers at the University of New Hampshire, examining previous collections of restraint and seclusion data, found that the vast majority of the variance in reported restraint and seclusion rates is found among districts in the same state, all presumably governed by the same policies.

READ THE FULL STORY FROM EDWEEK

Cheney High Grad Seeks to Raise Awareness of Cerebral Palsy

Adriana Loya

Via KWCH.com

Like a proud parent, Gay Gower talks about her grandson’s accomplishments.

“For his use of technology with his chair, he received Infinitech outstanding technology achievement,” she said.

But that’s not all. Her grandson Dustin Gower has also been featured in his high school newspaper multiple times.

“He made some artwork and he donated that as part of their community school service day,” Gay said.

The recognition means so much for the family because Dustin is a unique 17-year-old.

“He has cerebral palsy,” Gay said. “He was born prematurely and it’s been in effect since then. It was diagnosed when he was nine months old.”

But, his diagnosis has not stopped Dustin. With the use of special buttons and handles, Dustin is able to move himself around on his wheelchair by using only his hand, chin and mouth.

“Just because you don’t have use in a certain limb, it doesn’t mean you can’t use another one,” Dustin said.

READ THE FULL STORY HERE

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