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Monday, December 29, 2014

NFB of Colorado Getting Healthy


NFB of Colorado Getting Healthy
Join the Movement
By Kevan Worley

The state of Colorado has the lowest rate of obesity in the nation. There are many state programs and non-profits working on initiatives and policies to keep it that way, and lower it even still. People who are blind are a cross-section of society. We too must care about quality of life, improving health, and lowering healthcare costs. There are some indicators which suggest that obesity reduces employment opportunities for people who are blind. The fact is that obesity and associated health consequences are significantly higher among people who are blind. Our unemployment rate continues to be alarming. When confronted with the challenge of making sure that the blind of Colorado can truly live the life we want, the NFB takes action. Fitness is an important part of the equation.

As many of you know, our affiliate organized our Sports and Recreation Division at the state convention in October. As Maureen Bass Master, President of the Division, wrote on this blog in early November, “this division will be dedicated to bringing wellness, activity, and fun to our members. We have many exciting goals to accomplish during this upcoming year and are working to plan quarterly activities on a chapter level, as well as being a resource for members to plug into existing groups such as, eye cycle, goal ball, yoga, and acclees.” The Division is off and running. It is already planning to visit local chapters in early 2015. Division leaders will be talking about the challenges around lack of exercise and providing encouragement. They will be seeking input from our members to understand how the Division should engage around sports, leisure activities, and wellness. The Division has already begun planning a dynamic action-oriented seminar tentatively scheduled for May 2nd at the Colorado Center for the Blind.

It is often the case that blind people are not aware of options and strategies to get out, get moving, and get fit. This new division will help inform, inspire, and create solutions for greater integration at the gym, on the track, in the pool, at the club, on the move. The division will create a climate of equality of opportunity, and health and wellness through physical activity. The division can also affect government policies, which affect us in the areas of health, access to recreation facilities, and even vocational rehabilitation or independent living programs to enhance access to better diet, wellness programs, and life options leading to employment. If a blind person has been told all of her life to sit and wait, there is a negative health consequence. If she has been expected to wait for the buffet plate to be brought, the impact on her health is negative. If the expectation is that the blind child should not help pull the weeds, engage in the family’s touch football game, or even vacuum the floor, it is not just a lack of travel skills or low self-esteem that occur, it is often obesity and other negative health consequences. The Sports and Rec Division has an important role to play to ensure that we can live the life we want. Over this past year, the Federation has enjoyed many successes. We can add the establishment of our new Sports and Rec Division to the list. This is, after all “the organized blind movement!” 

2014 Presidential Report


NFBCO SECURING THE LIVES WE WANT
A Presidential Report
Presented by Scott C. LaBarre
Saturday, November 1, 2014
Denver Marriott South

INTRODUCTION
Together with love, hope, and determination, we, the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado, transform our dreams into reality.  We know that blindness is not the characteristic that defines you or your future. Every day we raise the expectations of blind people, because low expectations create obstacles between blind people and our dreams. You can live the life you want; blindness is not what holds you back. 
These words represent our new message, our new promise to one another and to all who come to know us.  Although it has been cast in different words, our fundamental message has not changed since our founding nationally in 1940 and 1955 here in Colorado.  We are determined to live the lives we want and our work in the last year has been focused solely on this objective.  It is my pleasure, privilege, and honor to report our substantial achievements.  Nevertheless, significant barriers to living the life we want, a life of first class citizenship, still remain, and we must, therefore, remain true to our cause and strengthen our effort. 
CCB
For as long as I have taken this podium and reported to you, I have said in many different ways that the single most important program that we operate is our Colorado Center for the Blind.  As you heard vividly demonstrated earlier today, the Center’s programs are the dramatic, daily application of our philosophy.  We teach our students and all who come in touch with us that blindness does not prevent you from living the life you want.  Members of our Federation are undoubtedly familiar with the central programs that we run and have run since 1988 such as our adult, independence training program and our various summer programs for blind teenagers and college students.  For the last several years, we have operated Confidence camp for elementary students and this past year we expanded that program from two to three weeks.  We are significantly expanding our programs for blind seniors and providing sessions for family and friends on how to help their loved ones adjust to blindness in a positive manner.  We are training other service providers who offer programs for blind seniors.  We serve blind youth year round through our FAST Program, Fun Activities and Skills Training.  In the coming year, we plan to take many of our training programs on the road and spread our philosophy and skills all throughout Colorado while recruiting new members to our affiliate.  The Center is part of our family and we can always count on students and staff participating in our chapters and divisions and showing up at our various affiliate events.  We may have different corporate bodies but we are of one mind and soul.  The heart of the Federation beats strongly at the CCB and this only occurs because of the tremendous leadership we have.  Diane McGeorge had the vision and guts to get us started on the right path over twenty-six years ago.  As our Executive Director since 1999, Julie Deden has led the Center to greater heights and accomplishments through her creative and dynamic leadership.  And, of course, we could not do any of this without our tremendous staff and students.  Let’s hear one giant Federation roar for our, Colorado Center for the Blind!
RINGING THE BELL IN COLORADO
For the fourth year now, we operated a BELL Camp.  BELL stands for Braille Enrichment through Literacy and Learning.  In fact, we ran two programs, one here in the metro area and the other in Colorado Springs.  This two week summer camp offers blind children, ages five through twelve, an emersion into braille instruction and several other independence skills such as cane travel and daily living, not to mention a bunch of fun activities like horseback riding, swimming, going out for pizza, and scavenger hunts.  Once again, Diane McGeorge and Michelle Chacon led a wonderful team who gave our BELL kids a tremendous summer education.  At the beginning of camp, many of the children let their parents do just about everything for them.  By the end, the kids are insisting that their parents let them take care of themselves.  As we announced earlier today, next year, we plan to combine the confidence and BELL camps which will allow us to reach even more blind youth throughout the state.  The BELL rings loudly and sweetly in Colorado.

KAREN NORTON

Last year, I reported to you that in late 2012, Karen Norton from Fort Collins had to visit Walden, Colorado for her work and she had reserved an upgraded room at the North Park Inn.  Karen happens to use a guide dog to aid her independent travel.  When she entered the hotel, the owner challenged her by saying “didn’t you see the sign?  It says no pets.”  The owner refused to give her the upgraded room because of the “pet policy” and tried to assign her to another, less desirable room which also happened to be a smoking room, something which she very much did not want.  Karen tried to explain that it is the law of this state that blind persons are allowed to bring their guide dogs anywhere they go.  The owner told her to leave and when she refused, he called the Jackson County Sherriff.  Instead of enforcing Colorado Law, the officer who responded ordered Karen to leave or she would be arrested and her dog impounded.  On Karen’s behalf, we filed a charge of discrimination with the Colorado Civil Rights Division for violations of the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act and the Americans With Disabilities Act.  On December 17, 2013, the Director of the Civil Rights Division issued a ruling that probable cause existed to establish a denial of full and equal enjoyment of a place of public accommodation based on disability.  After this finding, North Park Inn and Suites was keen to settle the case and settle we did.  The North Park Inn and Suites has changed its policy to admit fully anyone using a guide dog and has proclaimed that policy publicly through its website; has written a letter of apology; paid Karen Norton monetary damages; and has paid all our attorney fees.  Our founder, Dr. tenBroek stated long ago that we have a right to live in the world.  Part of that right includes our right to travel freely through the land whether using cane or dog.  We protected this right for Karen Norton and we will enforce it for all!

NFBCO ON THE LEGISLATIVE FRONT

Speaking of laws, we have been active on the legislative front in the last year.  Since 2004, we have been successful in securing an appropriation from the Colorado General Assembly to help fund NFB-Newsline®.  This wonderful service allows us to access daily and other periodicals with essentially the same ease of use as the sighted.  By using the computer, email, iPhone, and yes, even the old fashion telephone; we can access nearly 400 newspapers and magazines, weather alerts, Federation literature, and more.  During the 2014 legislative session, we asked for and received an increase to NFB-Newsline® funding of $10,000.00 which will help us reach even more blind and low vision Coloradans so that they can take advantage of the vast amount of information available on Newsline®.

We also played a critical role in two other pieces of legislation.  We helped the Colorado Cross Disability Coalition pass Senate Bill 118 that strengthens the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act by aligning Colorado’s disability discrimination standards with the Americans with Disabilities Act, increased civil penalties for violation of the act from $50 per incident to $3500.00, and assuring that successful claimants can recover their attorney fees.  Additionally, we participated in legislation addressing transportation network companies, companies like Uber and Lift.  The legislation officially permits these companies to operate in Colorado and brings them under the regulatory umbrella of the Public Utilities Commission.  We made certain that this legislation included provisions making it clear that these companies cannot discriminate against passengers based on their disability.   

On the national level, we have been advocating for a number of new laws before Congress.  Earlier today, you heard about our efforts with regard to TEACH, the Technology, Education and Accessibility in College and Higher Education Act.  If passed, this new law would authorize the creation of guidelines that higher education institutions could use to guaranty that all electronic educational materials were accessible in a nonvisual manner.  From the Colorado Congressional delegation, we have been successful in persuading Senator Michael Bennet to become one of the early cosponsors of TEACH in the U.S. Senate and Representative Michael Coffman has signed on in the House of Representatives.  We will not rest until we pass TEACH and thereby afford blind college and university students to access course materials with the same ease as their sighted peers.   

We remain staunch advocates of fair wages for workers with disabilities.  As most of you know, it is still legal for employers to pay workers with disabilities below the minimum wage.  We are the only class of people for which this is legal.  The Federation, with the help of Congressman Greg Harper of Mississippi, has introduced House Bill 831 which would eliminate the law that allows this hideous practice to exist.  From Colorado, Congresswoman Dianna DeGette and Congressmen Ed Perlmutter have cosponsored H.R. 831 but we need to get our entire delegation on the bill.  We simply cannot stand by and permit such blatant discrimination.  People with disabilities will have the right to earn the same wage as those who are not disabled.  This will be so because of the National Federation of the Blind.

DVR

A year ago, I talked to you about the Colorado Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) which is under the Colorado Department of Human Services.  Long ago, Congress passed the Rehabilitation Act which provides 80 percent of the funding to help blind and other individuals with disabilities to achieve competitive employment, with states being responsible for coming up with the remaining twenty percent.  You can think of the relationship between DVR and the client as a contract.  In fact, the relationship is governed by something called the individual plan for employment.  If you, the client, do what you are supposed to do, then DVR is supposed to provide the funding and assistance necessary to acquire education and the assistive technology with the ultimate goal of securing a job.  With respect to the disabled of Colorado, DVR has been flagrantly breaching its contract with us.  I told you last year that hundreds of individuals were on a waiting list and could not even open their cases with DVR.  That number is now several thousand.  I also told you that part of DVR’s lack of efficacy stemmed from the fact that it is so low in the Department of Human Services food chain that priority is not attached to its mission of helping us escape unemployment and therefore poverty.  This remains true.  The only shimmer of hope that I was able to reference a year ago was that DVR had just hired a new director, Joelle Brouner, a woman with a disability, commitment, and energy with ambitious goals.  Well, the Department has shoved her aside and demoted her. Without further adieux, I think it is fair to say that this system is irreparably and completely broken and must be jettisoned!  In the coming year, we will work with other concerned organizations, like the Colorado Cross Disability Coalition, to affect major reform.  We will go to the Colorado General Assembly and demand a complete restructure of the rehabilitation system here in Colorado.  DVR probably needs to be moved to a different department and given a much higher profile.  It must have more specialized services so that it can meet the needs of individuals with varying disabilities much more effectively, and it goes without saying that this waiting list must be eliminated.  We will make DVR live up to its end of the bargain.  We will insist upon our right to have a real opportunity to secure meaningful employment and escape the bonds of poverty.  This will happen because of us, the National Federation of the Blind!

COLORADO SCHOOL FOR THE DEAF AND BLIND

Unlike the DVR situation, our relationship with the Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind (CSDB) has gotten much brighter.  Last year, I expressed our dismay with the school and its lack of participation and partnership with us.  This year, I am happy to report that things between the school and us are much better.  Last December, a number of us met with Carol Hilty, superintendent of the school where we laid out all of our concerns clearly and with great force.  She responded positively and committed the school to a much higher level of partnership with us.  She has kept her word.  Since that time, our mentorship program has expanded greatly.  We now go to the school and teach a 7th period philosophy class and we stay after working on assisted daily living skills such as cooking and cleaning. We do so with our own Marty Rahn who has been hired as the Daily Living Skills instructor for the school. We have had 12 or more participants each visit. We have also participated in professional training sessions for the school’s staff.  We have also welcomed CSDB’s new principal, Chris Cockrill, and he has been working with us enthusiastically to expose CSDB students to Federation philosophy.  Our future partnership with CSDB looks very promising indeed.
THE BLIND COLORADAN

You all know the old adage.  If a tree falls in the forest but no one is there to observe it, did it really make any noise.  The same is true for us.  If we don’t get out the word about the great work we do, we won’t reach new people and educate the public.  To that end, we started publishing the Blind Coloradan.  It took the form of a traditional newsletter and under Kevan Worley’s leadership; it grew each issue reaching a point where we put out a fifty page publication each quarter.  However, our research led us to the conclusion that people were not reading it and taking advantage of the information presented.  That is why we have transformed the Blind Coloradan into a blog, http://theblindcoloradan.blogspot.com.  Since its creation in late July, We have published 24 posts with nearly 2000 views. Not only do we have readers from Colorado and all across the United States, individuals from France, Russia, Poland, Canada, Germany, Italy, Norway, Greece, and Indonesia have been enjoying our posts.  In addition to providing written articles, we have the ability to post videos, audio recordings, and still pictures.  In three short months, we have spread the Federation’s message to far more people than we had reached before.

BUILDING THE FEDERATION AND CHAPTER DEVELOPMENT

Over the years, I have participated in many philosophical discussions where we kick around concepts such as what is the Federation’s most important mission.  These discussions inevitably lead to everything from more public education, more training centers, more educational programs for blind youth, and more law suits to protect our rights, and the like.  All of these are important, but for me, our key mission is to build the Federation We do this through chapter development, recruiting and strengthening our membership from the grass roots up.  Here in Colorado, we are actively building the Federation both nationally and locally.

As we near the celebration of our 75th anniversary as a national organization, we have organized the 75 Days of Action Committee which is very capably co-chaired by Kevan Worley with Jessica Beecham and I having the pleasure of serving on the steering committee.  Jeanette Fortin, Maureen Nietfeld, and Melissa Fishburn have also served on the broader committee.  With significant help from Colorado, we have created dozens of new chapters and strengthen existing ones nationwide.  As part of this effort, Kevan and Jessica have spent time in California helping to form a new chapter in San Diego and organized a “Discover You” Seminar in San Francisco which attracted over a hundred new people to the Federation.  Some have wondered openly why I would authorize some of Colorado’s prized resources to work so actively in other states, but I do not view our mission so territorially.  We must build the Federation from Key West, Florida, to Bangor, Maine, to Greeley, Colorado, to Seattle, Washington, and to San Diego, California.  We are one family with one mission.

There is no doubt that here in Colorado, our chapters and divisions represent the backbone from which we build all else.  It is impossible for me to mention everything that we have accomplished in the last year, but the following snippets will give you some flavor.

In January, we formed the Grand Valley Chapter with Nathan Hecker being elected as its president.  Grand Valley, are you in the room?  The chapter has been growing and conducted its first fundraiser raising several hundred dollars. 

At this convention we are forming a Sports and Recreation Division which has already put on a great activity yesterday and will encourage us all to get a lot more physically active and more healthy.  Plans are in the works to create a diabetic action division and reestablish chapters in Durango and Canon City.

Under the capable leadership of Melissa Green, the Colorado Association of Guide Dog Users has been on the move.  In March, this division sponsored a seminar for guide dog users which attracted over fifty folks with participants hearing from guide dog programs, veterinarians, orientation and mobility instructors, and guide dog users themselves.  The Division has also started a newsletter called the Water Dish.

Antonio Rozier has led the Colorado Association of Blind Students to new heights this year.  In March, Colorado put on the second Western States Student Seminar. With nearly 30 participants from Nevada, Arizona, California, Colorado, Kansas, Georgia, Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska and Oklahoma, Dr. Marc Maurer, our immediate past president nationally, served as our keynote speaker.  Participants had the opportunity to tour the Colorado Center for the blind, brainstorm accessibility solutions, participate in hands on activities including chemistry, astronomy, and art.  Students also had the opportunity to use the light rail and local Colorado transit system to check out the 16th Street Mall and enjoy a fun night of bowling downtown.

Our Senior Division with Diane McGeorge at the helm has been growing significantly.  The division helps run our senior support groups and assists with our residential program called Seniors in Charge.  The Division now publishes a newsletter which we also call Seniors in Charge.

Michael Massey, President of the Pueblo Chapter, reports that we held a chapter building event in Pueblo as part of the 75 Days of Action Campaign and the chapter helped out at this year’s Colorado State Fair, spreading our Federation message to the public at large.

Under Jeanette Fortin’s outstanding stewardship, our Colorado Springs Chapter continues to grow by conducting a number of chapter building events.  Most recently, the Chapter participated in the Emma Crawford Memorial Coffin Race which provided a unique opportunity to spread our word.  The Springs Chapter informs me that the event wasn’t a dead end.

Under Maryann Migliorelli’s seasoned leadership, our Boulder Valley chapter has started a collaboration with BDT Stage, formerly Boulders Dinner Theatre to provide audio description for shows during the past and current seasons.  Our chapter members have started mentoring each other in travel and public transportation and have started a technology segment at their meetings where they answer questions about how to use items such as iPhones, Library of Congress players, and other gadgets of interest to our members.

Under Gary Van Dorn’s outstanding leadership, the Mile High chapter has been doing fundraising in conjunction with the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. It has been a great way to enjoy the arts and let people in the community know that blind people enjoy theatre too!  Speaking of the arts, the Mile High Chapter was all jazzed up at its summer picnic.  With burgers, hot dogs, and a live jazz performance.  A great time was had by all and they made a little money too.  The Mile high chapter has also had a substantial presence at RTD Board meetings and the chapters meet the blind event involved having a huge presence at the October 28, RTD board meeting.

Our newly elected Poudre Valley Chapter President, Valerie Utter, wants us to know that the Federation is growing in Fort Collins and surrounding areas.  The Chapter rocked it out with 7 bands and raised some money to get their bank account started. The chapter is also gearing up to take some major action to improve accessibility of public transit in Ft. Collins.

Tom Anderson now serves as our Denver Chapter president and assures us that the Chapter is very active indeed.  It continues to have a great presence in the community as demonstrated by Littleton’s Western Welcome Week where the chapter ran a booth, spreading our message to the public.  The Denver Chapter had another fantastic summer picnic featuring a bouncy house for all the kids, big and small.  The Chapter enjoyed an evening at Lady Luck Casino while raising money for the chapter which in turn allowed the chapter to sponsor a middle school student to attend the CCB summer program.

Wayne Marshall runs our Aurora Chapter and it continue to conduct several public events where our message about blindness is featured.  The Chapter has also established a close working relationship with the Lions which will help us in the future to expand the reach of our programs.     

Cody Bair effectively leads our Greeley Chapter and he has noted several significant activities.  In the past year the chapter hosted a successful fund raising luncheon at which numerous members of the general public attended and learned about the National Federation of the Blind. Additionally, they have been working closely with Greeley Evans Transit to ensure that various aspects of their transit system are accessible to blind individuals such as route guides and newly implemented electronic fare machines.
Everett Romero has presided over the Colorado Parents of Blind Children.  It continues to publish the E-connector offering important information about blindness to parents.  The division has also participated in a number of events to spread the Federation’s message.
The Colorado Association of Blind Merchants, led by Brad Basta, has worked with the Colorado Business Enterprises Program to improve economic opportunity for blind business owners.  The Division has also sponsored a number of events where blind vendors can network and share tips. 
Michelle Chacon serves as the dynamic president of our North Metro Chapter and her chapter has been very busy.  They have conducted several fundraisers including a terrific wine tasting at Spero Winery and shared half the proceeds with the affiliate.  The Chapter sent several people to national convention and assisted twenty-two people to be with us here this weekend.
Penn Street has been leading the at Large Chapter.  That chapter has helped us reach areas of the state which would otherwise be hard to touch.  It has also helped us create new in person chapters, the Poudre Valley Chapter being a prime example.
There is no doubt that our chapters and divisions are extremely active and helping to build and grow our Federation.  You will hear more from them directly tomorrow but for now, let’s give our chapters and divisions a huge round of applause!

IMPACT OF NFBCO NATIONALLY, MEMBERS HONORED

As you can tell from this weekend’s agenda and this report, our affiliate has a large footprint on the national organization.  Our leadership is deep and our involvement substantial.  There are just too many individuals involved at a national level to list.  However, I wish to point out a significant honor achieved by one of our outstanding leaders.  At this year’s national convention, the Federation bestowed the Blind Educator of the Year Award on Michelle Chacon for her outstanding service to the community, her profession, and to the Federation.  While presenting the award to her, David Tikki from Boston who chaired the award committee collected some quotes about Michelle’s impact.  They are: “consummate professional, natural teacher, builds positive and effective relationships, believes in blind people, has expectations for blind people, will work closely with families, and she will always take the extra step.”  Michelle, you are one of our stars; we love you; and we congratulate you on this honor!

It is always difficult to talk about oneself but I do so now because it is only with your love and support that I have been able to accomplish anything.  Our Federation family granted me a great honor when I received the Jacob Bolotin Award at convention for my work in establishing the Marrakech Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Individuals Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired, and Otherwise Print Disabled, an international agreement that should put many more accessible books into the hands of blind people worldwide.  Dr. Bolotin, as far as we know, was the first blind medical doctor in the United States and he practiced medicine and demonstrated that the blind can live the lives they want in the early part of the last century, about two decades before the Federation was even born.  When I received the award, I quoted from Dr. Bolotin’s very own words as reported from a Chicago newspaper in the 1920’s and you will see how  he would have fit right in with our Federation family and our message.  When talking about being a blind doctor, he said, "Well, is there anything so remarkable about it? Because a man has no eyes is it any sign that he hasn't any brains? That is the trouble with the world and the blind man. All the blind man asks is fair play. Give him an equal chance without prejudice, and he generally manages to hold his own with his more fortunate colleagues."

THANK YOU’S AND CONCLUSION

For the award and for my life, I am so incredibly thankful.  I could not live the life I want and serve as your president without my family.  As I have said before, there are two major parts to my family the LaBarre’s and all of you.  Without the love and support of Anahit, Alexander, and Emily, there is no way I could serve in this role.  It is my honor to privilege to serve with our outstanding officers and board of directors and I salute and thank you for your terrific service.  Without our staff, Lisa Bonderson, Lorinda Riddle, and Jessica Beecham, we could not manage this amazing organization.  Finally, I thank all of you for your love and support.  It is our membership who truly helps us achieve our dreams. 

In closing, I reflect upon the words of our brand value proposition because I believe them to be true for all of us.  I am filled with hope, energy, and love by participating in the National Federation of the Blind because my expectations are raised, my contributions make a difference to me and to others, and I can celebrate the realization of my dreams with my Federation family.  In Colorado and elsewhere, you and I are truly changing what it means to be blind by living the lives we want.  We know that a life with blindness need not be one of tragedy.  First-class citizenship is no longer just a fanciful dream. It shall become our reality. We have touched the flame of freedom and it has ignited our hearts and minds. Let us join those hearts, minds, and our collective action together and march the rest of the way to true freedom.   This is our mission.  This is our Federation and this is my report to you!

Friday, December 19, 2014

It's Scholarship Time

Are you a blind college student who is taking full time classes or taking part time classes and working full time? If so, the National Federation of the Blind and the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado want to hear from you. Each year we give away 30 National scholarships ranging from $3,000 to $12,000. in Colorado we give away $15,000 in scholarships. 

Check it out and send in your application!

Deadlines:
National Federation of the Blind: March 31
National Federation of the Blind of Colorado: April 15

 www.nfb.org/scholarships




Small Changes


Small Changes
by
George McDermith

        I have always had an inclination towards books and long conversations over large cups of coffee, it's just the way I am. Thus until about two years ago I never really thought overly much about my physical health. As a blind person who lost his vision during his mid teen years I initially bought into the idea that blindness entailed that I could not be as physically active as others, and after I got my head screwed on straight about my blindness I just didn't have much inclination towards physical activity.

        All that changed for me after I started going through a rough spot in my life personally. I took a long hard look at where I was and where I wanted to be, and one thing I determined was that I wanted to be fit. The way I phrased it was that I didn't need to be a Greek god, but neither did I wish to be the next Yokosuka. Being able to get to a level of fitness to participate in athletic competitions is wonderful, but I didn't want my life to revolve around that. I subsequently started making small changes to my diet and what I did with my day,
and was amazed at how those small changes gradually built upon one another into a lifestyle change for the better. In the course of working on my exercise routine I was on the hunt for things that would entertain me. I wanted something that would stimulate, as well as be a good workout, and I found my answer in two very different sports.

        Tandem Cycling:

        At first I gave this a shot because there was already a group in Denver http://www.eyecyclecolorado.org, and then I stuck with it because I fell in love with it. Whether it's a short ride on a cool spring morning, a century (100 miles) in the dead middle of summer, or a quick winter ride to get the blood pumping, I always find the time on a bike to be uplifting. My captains, the person who is on the front of the bike, are great folks, and the social aspect has helped me hop on and stick with a ride when I wasn't overly keen on going. What was a once a couple of weeks thing has become an every single chance I can get thing. If you have never felt the wind in your hair as you are blasting down a hill at 40 MPH I highly recommend you
give it a go.

        Goalball:

        Some might call this the sport for the insane, and I would respond that I resemble that remark, but laying that aside it is my opinion that this is the closest thing the blind have currently to football. (Did I mention I *love* the Broncos?) I love the physicality of the sport, and the ability to give my all in something that is not for the faint of heart causes me to want to continue to hone my skills.

        Whatever your desire might be for fitness, whether to lose a few pounds or perhaps become a Greek god or goddess, I recommend trying as many things as possible to find out what works best for you. What causes you to light up at the possibility of doing it again? Perhaps it's swimming, or hiking, or going for a walk. Whatever it is stick with it, and make small changes for the better, they add up.