Harmony Playground: Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

On April 25, 2019 the Knox County Chamber of Commerce held the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for Harmony Playground, the new fully inclusive playground in Mount Vernon. Harmony Playground has been a wonderful collaborative project with the Knox County Board of Developmental Disabilities, Crossfit 1808, the Knox County Health Department Creating Healthy Communities and many other wonderful team members that brought together this amazing playground for all families in Knox County and beyond.

Carol Grubaugh, with the Chamber of Commerce led the ceremony and we heard wonderful remarks from Katie Fiorilli, Crossfit 1808 & Caroline’s Classic; Tami Ruhl, Knox County Health Department Creating Healthy Communities; Steve Oster, Knox County Board of Developmental Disabilities; and Mayor Dick Mavis, City of Mount Vernon. Thank you to Jamie and Levi Sanders for cutting the ribbon!

Thank you to everyone who helped make this project a reality, and thank you to everyone who came out to the ribbon cutting ceremony!

harmony playground ribbon-19.JPG
harmony playground ribbon-20.JPG
harmony playground ribbon-21.JPG
harmony playground ribbon-22.JPG
harmony playground ribbon-23.JPG
harmony playground ribbon-24.JPG
harmony playground ribbon-25.JPG
harmony playground ribbon-26.JPG
harmony playground ribbon-36.JPG
harmony playground ribbon-39.JPG
harmony playground ribbon-46.JPG
harmony playground ribbon-47.JPG
harmony playground ribbon-54.JPG

Generous donors who made this project a reality are:

Knox County Board of Developmental Disabilities

The Ariel Foundation

Diversified Products & Services

Richard & Arline Landers Foundation


Crossfit 1808 Caroline’s Classic

United Way of Knox County

Kiwanis Club of Mount Vernon

The Energy Cooperative Operation Round Up Foundation, Inc.

The Ramser Family

Licking/Knox Goodwill Industries, Inc.

Knox County Health Department Creating Healthy Communities


Women United

First-Knox National Bank, Division of Park National Bank

Elks Care, Elks Share - Mount Vernon Elks #140

Celestine Watkins

Siemens Energy Systems, Inc.

Mount Vernon Rotary Foundation

City of Mount Vernon

Knox County Foundation

Foundation Parks Conservancy

Concepts in Community Living, Inc.

Margo de Camp

Steve Oster

Kim & Pam Rose

Ian & Charlotte Watson

Creative Foundations, Inc.

Gordy & Fran Yance


Delta Kappa Gamma of Knox County

Knox Community Hospital

Chip & Katie Wilson

Marc & Jen Odenweller

Geotechnical Consultants, Inc.

The Marlow Family

Deb Romas & Associates

Dr. Robert & Patricia Ronk

Riverside Recovery Services - Where Recovery Brings Hope

Amy Albery

Elena N. Brechler

Craig Black - Tricia Moore - Andrew & Anna Breen

Team “Neverquit” - AFC

Adam Daniels - Ben Durbin - Natalee Johnson - Trista Butler

Brock M. Evans

Lara K. Farmer

Built By Unity

Hanna Ford

Matthew Gibson

The Hickman Family

John & Kristin Hofferberth

Matthew Kelling

Always Forward CrossFit

Tara Lamb

Alex Lambert

Melissa Leonard

Ron & Natalie Lucas & Family

Dan & Rebekah Mullins

Emily Nussbaum

Alicia Olson

Evan Palmer

Kathy Patton

Chad & Tami Ruhl

Holden Richards

The Ruffner Family

In Memory of Dorothy “Dottie” Marchal

Megan West

Neal Bell - Justin Satin - Loriann Fuhrer - Kris Whiting

Nichole Williams

“N8” Woodford

Dick & Peggy Mavis

Flappers Bar & Grille - Norm & Erron Porter - Steve Oster

Benjamin Peter Ollis

Lucy Peterson

Barbara Jordan

Anonymous

Easterseals Central & Southeast Ohio

ViaQuest, Inc.

Gantt Homes Inc. & The HIVE

Teresa Bemiller

Joe & Miranda Conkle

Nick & Katie Fiorilli

Rhonda & Chuck Gherman

Steve & Kathy Greenich

Mike & Karen Hagans

Jaclynn Mahle

Joe & Sally Nelson

Donald & Nancy Omahan

Friends of Kelly Shoemaker

In Memory of Ashton Cordray

Moms of Mount Vernon Giving Back

Rx: Nature

April is Autism Awareness Month. We appreciate the opportunity to share our story with you. Our lives have been changed for the better once we discovered the healing power of spending regular time in Nature!

A_first backpacking_web.jpg

My name is Jill. I have enjoyed being a stay-at-home, homeschooling mama of a large family. Even as a child, I was frequently outdoors, soaking up sunshine, noticing beauty, and finding an inner peace. Once we had a family, I often packed the kids into the car and escaped to a playground or a park or into the woods for an hour here or there. Like many families, our kids have had a variety of challenges. Most of them are now launched into successful adulthood. They are scattered around the country, pursuing lives they enjoy.

B_J baby outdoors_WEB.jpg

 Life has held extra joys and greater challenges with our youngest daughter. Anna has an alphabet soup of diagnoses, including severe anxiety and autism. Her energy, curiosity, creativity, and imagination are amazing! On the opposite side, her mood swings, crippling anxiety, hyper-focus and insatiable need for social contact (even to the point of danger) are overwhelming…for all of us! Meds, therapy, and the freedoms of homeschooling help, but life has still been chaotic. (Many of you know this roller-coaster. Please tell me you too have times you just wish you could get off the merry-go-round and get out of the amusement park…)

Like me, Anna craves being outdoors. Even as a toddler, she spent hours and hours playing in the backyard no matter how bad the weather seemed to be. For the few middle-school years she was in a public school, we won an accommodation in her IEP that when she was overwhelmed, a counselor or an aide would walk outside with her for a few minutes to help her calm down again. We quickly realized the freedom to learn while being outside is a huge benefit of homeschooling.

C_A outside_Chaco Canyon_WEB.jpg

Our family reached a pivot point a few years ago. My wonderful hubby saw that I was burned out. He suggested I take a month to wander the country by myself, camping along the way. I immediately responded that I wanted to buy backpacking gear and go on “the trail.” Realizing he couldn’t juggle Anna’s needs plus a full-time job and that we had no one else to help Anna for that long period of time, we agreed that she would need to come with me on my new adventure.

 

In fall of 2015, when Anna was just 13 years old, she and I haunted the outdoors store, gathered the necessary gear, and planned our adventure. Hubby drove us to Maryland, and we said our good-byes. Anna and I took our first steps on the Appalachian Trail and kept walking in the woods for the next 6+ weeks!

D_Starting Signpost_WEB.jpg

Backpacking was a radical change from suburban or small-town living! We carried everything we needed on our backs. We walked 5-10 miles of dirt trail each day, travelling up and down mountain after mountain. We heated water with a tiny stove and ate rehydrated rice and tuna meals each night. We slept in 3-sided lean-to shelters or in our tent and woke up the next day to do the same all over again. We filtered water from streams to drink, and only showered every 3-5 days when we got to a town for resupply. It was hard. It was crazy. And we LOVED it!

 

Eventually, I recognized that there was an extra benefit of extended time in the woods. At home it was typical for Anna to have 2-3 major meltdowns each week. However, after weeks of living outdoors, I realized Anna had only had one partial anxiety attack and no mood-swings. In addition to being immersed in nature, while we were on the trail, Anna was an equal with all the other hikers. She was fully competent with no “disabilities” holding her back. Social anxiety and dangerous lack of personal-safety were no longer problems to be dealt with. We discovered Rx: Nature was a miraculous “cure” for Anna’s struggles!

E_A Relaxing in woods_WEB.jpg

In the past 3.5 years, Anna and I have returned to the Appalachian Trail again and again. At this point, we are proud to have walked 500 miles in the back woods and in the mountains! (And we have not yet reached the 25% point of completing the entire AT which runs from Georgia to Maine. Isn’t that CRAZY?!) We both relish the peace and the beauty of spending extended time in nature.

 

After returning from our first backpacking adventure, I did further reading. I discovered there is extensive scientific research validating the health benefits of Nature. Many folks find that when they spend regular time outdoors, their moods are better regulated, and they have far fewer anxiety meltdowns. In addition, Rx: Nature helps improve mental clarity and focus, increases immune system responsiveness, and lowers generalized stress. (Woohoo! We found a genuinely effective way to get off the “roller-coaster” for youngest daughter. It’s a relief to find something that actually helps…and better yet is enjoyable for all of us!)

F_sunset_ThomasKnob_WEB.jpg

Love,

Jill (& Anna)


If you want to follow along with Anna & Jill’s adventures, feel free to go to their website:

http://thebigepic.com/

Lego Club: Farm Animals

On March 28th, we had another great turnout for Lego Club: Farm Animals. It’s always such a pleasure to watch how everyone works together to create such amazing creations!

Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month Luncheon 2019

As March comes to a close, it’s so wonderful to take some time to reflect on how amazing Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month is. We have been honored to be able to speak to Ohio State Legislators, have a fun evening dancing the night away, had a few Sensory Sensitive Movie showings, two Lego Club events, hosted our annual coloring and essay contest with all public schools in Knox County, and we had an amazing luncheon where we were able to honor so many great community leaders who make Knox County so amazing to live, work and thrive in.

At our DD Month Luncheon we discussed how technology can assist people who have developmental disabilities be more independent and have fuller lives. We were also able to honor 6 different people/groups who make Knox County so amazing.

Local Hero Award: Terri Pribonic, New Hope Industries

Employer Award: Justin Newell, Kenyon College Athletics

Community Partner Award: Public Library of Knox County and Mount Vernon

Community Partner Award: Premiere Theatre 7

Dedication Award: Tiffany Cagnon, Midwest Community

Individual Spotlight Award: Jocelyn Gilardi

Thank you for making Knox County so great!

Special Olympics State Skills Tournament [basketball]

Athletes from Knox County traveled to Hilliard Darby High School on March 23rd to compete with other athletes from across the state of Ohio in the Special Olympics Basketball Skills Competition! All of our athletes won ribbons and medals and had a great time competing!

Lego Club: Sandwiches, Burgers, Subs & More!

We love getting to watch creativity and imagination take over as people come together to build amazing creations at Lego Club. On 3/14 we had a great turn out and had some pretty stellar pieces made! The theme was “Sandwiches, Burgers, Subs & More!” (a theme that was submitted by a kiddo!! Great thinking!) and the pieces that were created were extraordinary!

If you have a great idea for a theme, feel free to email it to Brody Boggs (bboggs@knoxdd.com) and he’ll try to add it to the calendar!

DD Awareness & Advocacy Day

“The Developmental Disability (DD) Advocacy and Awareness Day is an annual event that has taken place for over a decade at The Ohio Statehouse in March which is DD Awareness Month. The purpose of this event is to educate and empower people with developmental disabilities, their family members and other community allies to come together on a single day to advocate policy issues which impact the lives of people with developmental disabilities.”

Knox County had several self-advocates attend this event and were able to advocate for people with disabilities in our communities. Great job, everyone!

https://ddohio.wordpress.com/about/

Boots & Belles : DD Awareness Month Kickoff Dance

For the past few years, we have held our annual Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month Kickoff Dance— This year our theme was “Boots & Belles”. We collected donations for Riverside Recovery Services- they enjoyed spending the evening with us, collecting donations and helping us tear down decorations at the end of the evening. Thank you everyone who made this night a success!

Please enjoy some of our photos! If you have any you’d like to share, feel free to send them our way!