with

Getting “Beyond the Box” With AblePlay

- for the Grateful Web

For professionals serving children with special needs, toys are your tools of your trade.  Much like a carpenter whose heart beats rapidly in a hardware store, therapists get that same feeling when they hear the click, ding and buzz of the toys as they enter a toy store.  A survey of therapist and other professionals serving children with special needs taken by the National Lekotek Center, a nonprofit dedicated to using toys and play as a way to fully include children into family and community life, found that 99% of therapy professionals felt toys were critically important or important to their work everyday with children with special needs.

With thousands of toys on store shelves, it can be overwhelming and difficult to identify those products that would be best for your client base.  To compound the challenge, new toys enter the market place with lightening speed.  We often turn on the TV or flip through the pages of a magazine to learn about the newest "hot" items.  So often, however, the best items for our kids are those that aren't promoted on TV or in ads.

So how exactly is a busy professional suppose to find the best products for children with special needs?   Many shop their local toys stores, including the big box retailers, and discount and stores stores.  Others peruse the internet, but both can be time consuming.   Over flowing caseloads, charting notes, counseling parents, consulting with other therapists, and dealing with insurance are just a few of the tasks that leave little time for doing what many want to do most.   Find the next great and fun item that will help their clients meet their goals and enjoy themselves while they work toward them.

This November, a new web-based resource was launched with the express purpose of providing professionals who serve children with special needs and their parents with the information they need to make the best toy choices.  The AblePlay Rating System, which can be found at www.ableplay.org, provides a snapshot of the toy's appropriateness for children with special needs by giving a star rating (1 the lowest to 5 the highest) in four disability categories – physical, communicative, sensory and cognitive.  It also provides an entire website with information on AblePlay™ rated toys.

The heart of the AblePlay™ Rating System are the comprehensive AblePlay™ Toy Reviews.  These reviews detail the "hows and whys" of each product, specifically for children with disabilities, and consists of details on product features, skill benefits, and creative play ideas, and includes a product photo and  link to an online retail site.

One of the great elements of the site is it is sorting features.  Individuals can search the toys by disability category, toy type (product category), age range, manufacturer, or product name.   With additional toys being added to the site regularly, individuals will always find new products to search.

It is clear that many therapists spend quite a bit of time assisting parents on making home-basesd play experiences rewarding and successful.  In a recent survey of therapy professionals, nearly 25% said that parents ask them daily for toy recommendations.   An additional 55% said they are asked at least weekly or monthly.  Each AblePlay™ Product review is designed to be printer friendly so it can be handed off to parents.  There is also a section on "Tips for Using AblePlay" which offers additional helpful ways to use the information.

With the hope of making the AblePlay website a dynamic and increasingly meaningful resource, a bulletin board for professionals called "Share Your Smarts" will soon provide a forum for therapists to share ideas, resources and tips on toy use.  Parents will also be able to communicate suggestions through the "Parents Helping Parents" bulletin board.   These features are accessible by joining the AblePlayers Club which is free and will also provide topical information toys and play for children with special needs.

AblePlay was conceived to assist parents and the professionals who work with them to sort through the thousands of items in the marketplace and get "beyond the box".    Without being able to play with a toy before you buy it, just looking at the packaging may hold few clues as to its appropriateness for children with special needs.   With time and money in short supply, making just the right match will be made much easier with AblePlay.

The AblePlay concept was created by the National Lekotek Center.  Since 1980, the National Lekotek Center provides play-based direct services, support and information to thousands of children with special needs and their families in resource and play centers in nine states.  For more information on AblePlay contact Diana Nielander at 773-276-5164 or dnielander@lekotek.org.  Or check out www.ableplay.org.

Mountain Jamming w/ The Allman Brothers Band

The first thing I see as I enter the top of Red Rocks is the full moon just barely sitting on the Colorado horizon. It's got that dusky, orange glow and an uncanny resemblance of, well, dare I say, a Georgia peach. It sat center-stage and shined like a beacon getting brighter and brighter the higher it went.

I'll Have The Widespread Panic With A Side Of Galactic

The Jazz Aspen Festival is more of a gumbo of American music than jazz musicians' guild these days, but who's complaining? With the aspen trees barely showing signs of an approaching Fall, hot days were lending themselves to much colder nights and the perfectly sized crowd seemed poised for a great weekend of music. The melancholy recognition of those suffering in the South was braided throughout the sets, yet the bands got down to business.

The first day of music was kicked off with Widespread Panic's close friend, Jerry Joseph, and followed by Johnny Clegg. The crowd was surprisingly light as Panic took to the stage around 6:15 on Thursday evening and launched into an extended Rebirtha with taunts and teases that segued nicely into Junior. Old Neighborhood and Good People seemed to be a nod to those suffering in New Orleans, which was appreciative, but slowed the set a bit. In an attempt to shift gears, the band began the familiar progression of the crowd-pleasing J.J. Cale cover, Ride Me High. Run For Your Life is an interesting Beatles choice for Panic, but they pull it off well and it proved to be a nice mid-set treat. I was excited to hear an older Pigeons as well as another J.J. Cale cover, Travelin' Light. A set closing Give ended a modest, slow-paced set as the sun also took a break behind the surrounding hills of Snowmass.

The second set started with a rockin' version of Disco as Dave Schools rolled the band into the well-accepted new tune, Second Skin. A personal highlight of the evening for myself had to be the Blind Faith cover Can't Find My Way Home. John Bell (JB) sounded great and reminded me of the original soulful singing of Winwood & Clapton. After a fairly standard Rock came the slow spacey jam in the key of D that could only mean one thing, Driving Song. Driving Song segued fairly abruptly into R.L. Burnside's Snake Drive, which I believe is the only second time its been played. I remember it being pretty straightforward rock with a freight train kind of feel. Snake Drive dissolved into a short and sweet Drums that inevitably led back into Driving Song. Knocking 'Round the Zoo really got the crowd excited as the set closed with a low-end thumping Imitation Leather Shows.

An emotional Old Joe encore was a bittersweet reminder of the passing of original guitarist, Mikey Houser, but quite nice to hear. An aptly played Bayou Lena with Wally Ingram helping Sonny on percussion would have left any Panic fan happy but they didn't stop there. They decided to end things with a short ripping version of the live favorite, Fishwater. All in all, Panic's first night was good but I couldn't help but feel the band was taking a warm-up lap of sorts. So, we shuffled on to our Magic Shuttle Bus to take us home and looked forward to another music-filled tomorrow.

GALACTIC – Friday Afternoon Set

The afternoon of Galactic's set could not have been more beautiful. The sun was shining, kids were running around and the token throwing of the football had all signs pointing to a great day of music. If you're familiar with Galactic's New Orleans style of music, you know their sound is big, festive and much like a parade of funk dancing down Bourbon Street. But, when Galactic took the stage on Friday afternoon, you could tell their hearts were heavy with thoughts of their friends, family and beloved city. Stanton Moore struggled through a few words about donations before the band tried to settle into their set. If ever there was a time for music to act as a healer, it was now. The band played well but the festive atmosphere of the guys seemed to be lacking, and rightfully so. They played the bayou-based Dirty Dozen Brass Band's Lickity Split and wished them and their families well. Something was telling me Galactic was going to wait until the late night show to throw down. The setlist was:

I: Garbage Truck, Crazyhorse Mongoose, Lickity Split, Double Wide->Go Go, BK Instrumental, Clock Intro->Clock Stopper, Groovy Lady, Blackbird Special, Black-Eyed Pea

WIDESPREAD PANIC – Friday Night

The New Orleans nods continued as Panic kicked off the second night with Talking Head's cover Papa Legba, a song about a voodoo god. Thin Air (Smells Like Mississippi) and Doreatha gave George McConnell a chance to give his quick licks on lead guitar. A standard Weight of the World led to another aptly played tune, Down, as the lyrics "take along some of your favorite things 'cause you're gonna need 'em" rang with realism. The feel good country rock of Papa Johnny Road got everyone dancing for the upcoming Diner and crowd-cheering Tallboy. The first set ended with yet another not-so-subtle tune tied to the disaster in New Orleans, Climb to Safety. A great set closer. It was both chilling and uplifting to hear Bell and the crowd sing, "we must grab each others collar, we must rise out of the water and you know as well as I do it's no fun to die alone."

A giant of a second set began with old time favorite Love Tractor and led into Bust It Big. The Chilly Water>Worry>Chilly Water sandwich was appropriately well received and I, for one, was glad to hear the slower, emotional I'm Not Alone. The set kept moving with a newer You Should Be Glad, then older Tie Your Shoes that segued into Jack, and eventually led into Hot Tuna's Bow-Legged Woman. Porch Song, a Widespread Panic concert staple, closed the set and the show proved to be pure rock as Panic can only play it.

To finish us off, the band played yet another three song encore. The always-danceable All Time Low plowed its way into a frenzy and gave way to War's Slippin' Into Darkness. The final tune, Action Man, was more of an exiting tune for me by this time. What can I say? I had to go see Galactic again.

GALACTIC – Friday Late Night Set

The Snowmass Conference Center is not your normal venue. A little surprised and a little late, (hey, cut me some slack-this is my eighth straight hour of music) I meandered into the bouncing crowd. Already I could tell things were much more livelier than earlier in the day. Maybe it was the absence of the afternoon heat or the smaller confines of the Conference Center, but the people were moving and the music was loud. The band seemed to be enjoying themselves a little more too which always is a good thing. A guest appearance from P-nut on the midi-sax on Hot Pants Road was nice as was the show ending mega-medley Tippi Toes->Funkybird->Tiger Roll->Space Headz. In a growing trend these days for Galactic, they chose to wind things down for their encore and played a crowd settling Quiet Please.

I: It Ain't What You Think, Forbidden Horn, Baker's dozen, Blues For Ben, Moil, Workin' In A Coal Mine, Chicken Pox, Live Wire
II: Daydreaming, Santa Cruz, Mario Groove, Hot Pants Road*, Calypso Minor, Hit The Wall, Tippi Toes->Funkybird->Tiger Roll->Space Headz
E: Quiet Please

All in all, the weekend was a success for myself and the bands I was lucky enough to catch. For such a relatively small festival, there were great musicians all over the area and music coming at you from all sides. But even if I didn't see all the acts, in the end it doesn't matter who's playing the music, as long as the music moves your feet.

Advertise with Us

The Grateful Web is an independent music news and networking site. We have over 20,000 unique visitors every month seeking information on bands, press releases, album reviews, concert reviews, environmental news, festivals, and more. Our target audience is live music fans 18-60 years old who are fans of Bluegrass, Blues, Electronica, Jazz, Funk, Fusion, Rock, Jambands, Psychedelic, Reggae, World and other related genres.

 

Visitors to our site can also easily submit our content to the most popular social networking & news sites such as Facebook, Digg, Google and more. By utilizing this concept, our stories have the advantage of reaching an even wider audience.  RSS Feeds are another way we keep our site engaging and current, which in turn has our readers coming back for more information on a regular basis.

 

The Grateful Web has our own in house proprietary social networking functionality, offer live webcasting, interviews album reviews, concert reviews, providing plenty of opportunities for your store, company, band, festival,  and venues an affordable and effective way to reach a niche market.

 

Custom Packages

Contact us to request a custom package fitting your budget that blends a variety of our marketing options.  The Grateful Web customizes each account, so please get in touch for more information.

I'm a Nice Jewish Girl With a Big Bad Tattoo

JD Salinger- for the Grateful Web

Time to stifle your shrieks and open your minds, dear readers, for you will find that this is a story outside of the parameters of Judaism.  A story not about desecrating The Body, but one of adorning it, rewarding it.  It is about a little needle and a whole lot of Bacitracin.  You've read the title; you know what I'm talking about.I was not raised in a home particularly concerned with religion.  Channukah was just like any other week and cheeseburgers weren't outlawed due to kashrut but for cholesterol content. In fact, it was barely a week ago that I even learned the word kashrut. But branding my body was taboo nonetheless, because, simply put, my mother "said so, that's why."  She said, "it's classless, Jennifer, and gratuitous and dangerous.  Nice Jewish girls just don't do it."  And so I nodded and asked her to pass the pork. But funny things happen to a body in college and mine began doing the things it wanted, because it wanted, and started raising its eyebrow at rules that had previously been left unquestioned.  It was then that I stumbled upon  Seymour:  An Introduction, by J.D. Salinger.  Perhaps you've read it.  If not, perhaps you should.  I won't reprint any parts or pieces due to potential copyright infringement (although if it meant meeting Salinger, off to court in shackles I would happily go!), but you must trust that the work touched me in a way I could hardly articulate.  It made my very limbs tingle and in closing the pages, I missed it like a friend who had moved far away.  And I wanted to carry it with me always. So......When I got to the tattoo parlor, I was doubtless.  My calls had been placed to the AIDS hotline for reassurance and I had a Hershey bar on hand for emergency endorphins.  I had also reread my beloved Seymour before leaving, so the epiphany was sitting fresh on my shoulders as I headed toward the needle.  Hardly a flinch later, I left...calm...with a small red bicycle painted daintily on my body.  I had a symbol of Seymour, literally, at my hip.In the past seven years since I had myself illustrated, I've confessed to mother and added a second tattoo to my shoulder blade Life is Elsewhere, by Milan Kundera....ah, our poor, doomed Jaromil).  I have also had to do a lot of explaining to friends, family, and numerous passersby who have happened to spy me in a tank top.  They wonder why I would hurt myself like that; they remind me that nice Jewish girls shouldn't spoil their skin.  What they don't understand is that by being tattooed, I was simply adopting as part of my body beautiful pictures, images that I hold dear.  It is not desecration, it is decoration, celebration.  It's putting a gold foil crown on the birthday girl's head.  And I don't believe anyone's god could find that wrong.  I know that mine finds it pretty.