By Thomas Reid, President Monroe County Council of the Blind
While we did not have a specific theme for this regional, there is an underlying subject that captures the sentiment of each presentation: taking care of ourselves and others.
One of the goals of each regional is to include something on the topic of advocacy. Often we try to get local and state representatives to address the organization. I was initially a little concerned that our agenda did not outwardly appear to have an advocacy focus. Although I am a strong promoter for planning, sometimes things just take shape and work out without really noticing. Occasionally it is worth sitting back and letting the lesson reveal itself.
On May 16, 2015 members of the Luzerne and Lehigh Valley chapters joined host chapter MCCB (Monroe County Council of the Blind) at our official meeting location: Pocono Medical Center in East Stroudsburg.
Following a very thought provoking presentation from President Tony Swartz, the agenda for our daylong event consisted of representatives from Vanda Pharmaceutical discussing the medical information behind Non 24 Hour Sleep Wake Disorder. This was followed by an interview of Joanne Rath from LVCB on her experience with Non 24.
We were then given very useful information on what we should know about preventing and or living with diabetes, especially good nutritional habits. This included useful ways to manage food portion sizes and the proper foods to consume. While many in the audience, yours truly included, protested some of the suggestions, we all appreciated the information.
We were then instructed in the process of administering CPR. Attendees were shown how Disco saves lives. The instructor demonstrated how to use the hit song “Staying Alive” from the movie “Saturday Night Fever” to keep time while administering chest compressions.
Immediately following lunch we heard from chapter presidents, walked through a sample of the PCB Convention experience and then listened to Caroline McFarlane talk about available options for accessible prescription information.
We ended the day with a workout– Zumba! Zumba is a fitness program that combines Latin and international music with dance moves. Zumba routines incorporate interval training – alternating fast and slow rhythms – and resistance training.
It was during this very fun presentation that I became aware of the additional lesson resulting from this meeting. The information was not just for our benefit. Just about all of the presenters had to step up to the challenge of making their respective topics accessible. The nutritionist used tactile methods for explaining various concepts like measuring a food portion based on your own hand or thumb in certain cases. She even included plastic examples of food demonstrating the appropriate portion size.
The CPR instructor is excited about developing a full certification course specifically for people with vision loss. She will work with MCCB and hopefully before the end of the year all of our interested members will be certified in CPR.
Finally the Zumba instructors were well prepared and ready to explain the different movements for those who were unfamiliar. They not only took their time, but quickly realized it was not as difficult as they originally anticipated.
By the time our event concluded, there was no doubt in my mind that the Northeast regional meeting was a means for effectively advocating and in a small way, breaking down the barriers of inaccessibility for people with vision loss.
Congratulations to all who coordinated and participated in this year’s regional!