Catherine Riordan: Bringing the Simple Pleasures of the Outdoors to AllAge: 17Hometown: Solon, Ohio
The pleasure of a picnic on a beautiful day should be available to anyone, right? Sounds simple enough. But in northeast Ohio, Catherine noticed a group of people missing out. Due to the particular design of picnic tables and benches, handicapped and elderly individuals in wheelchairs couldn’t share in the fun. In fact, table and bench designs that would accommodate these people weren’t available at all. Catherine decided to fix this.
How Catherine Is Changing the World:
Catherine designed and built 4 elevated tables and 16 half-benches that split in the middle in order to accommodate any person in a wheelchair. Catherine also designed sensory boards that sit on wheelchair trays and have sensory stimulating items, like plastic flowers, attached to them.
Catherine worked with Hattie Larlham, a nonprofit organization that provides long-term care to people with disabilities in her area. With their helping hand, the designs were made available in two handicapped group homes in her neighborhood. To ensure that her designs were totally available without cost, Catherine obtained provisional patents.
On top of all that action, she showed her designs off at the Tolerance Fair, an annual event that raises public awareness and provides resources to people with disabilities. At the fair, Catherine chatted with over 100 people interested in her project!
Attention to detail and organizational skills were keys to this project’s success, Catherine noted. She nailed it! Her efforts truly show what a person can accomplish when they are committed to helping others. The grand finale of the project was a picnic for the residents, their families, and the staff. Catherine’s designs have been and continue to be well loved, with residents enjoying the opportunity to spend more time in the great outdoors.
This fall Catherine will enter her senior year of high school. She is also working on getting her designs up on Home Depot and Lowe’s “How To” pages so that everyone has their fair share of fun in the sun!
From the New York Times, August 28, 2014:
The World Health Organization warned on Thursday that the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, already the largest outbreak ever recorded, is going to get much worse over the next six months, the shortest window in which it might conceivably be brought under control. By then, the organization said, the virus could infect more than 20,000 people, almost seven times the current number of reported cases.
It is a frightening prospect that requires an urgent infusion of aid from public and private donors around the world. The situation as described by the health agency is so dire and the resources needed so daunting that it is hard to see how they can be supplied anytime soon.
The agency issued a road map listing tasks that must be carried out by countries with Ebola cases, nearby countries, the international community and nongovernmental organizations if the epidemic is to be contained.
A top official said the road map would require at least 750 international and 12,000 local health workers on the front lines delivering care. How can impoverished countries whose health workers are falling ill and dying or fleeing in fear possibly supply that many caregivers? If they cannot muster those workers, it seems inevitable that wealthier nations will need to step in with more personnel, but they, too, may have difficulty recruiting people.
The World Health Organization is belatedly catching up to a warning issued in June by Doctors Without Borders, a group that has been delivering care in some of the hardest hit areas, that said the epidemic was out of control. On Thursday, the health agency said that the reported death toll had risen to 1,552, from 3,069 cases of infection in four West African countries — Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria — and that the actual toll could be up to four times higher because many cases go undetected or unreported. That suggests there could already be up to 12,000 cases.
A top American official on the scene in West Africa said the situation is far worse than anticipated and raised concerns that, with each passing day, the virus might spread to additional countries. More than 40 percent of the total number of reported cases have occurred in the past three weeks. Most of those cases are concentrated in a few localities, offering hope that the outbreaks can be contained if more resources are sent to those places.
The road map could cost almost half-a-billion dollars over the next six months, not including broader support to provide food, sanitation and other necessities or to strengthen systems in afflicted countries that are so overwhelmed with Ebola cases that they can’t provide basic health services. Some local workers have shown immense courage in tending to the sick, but they need more protective gear, disinfectants, tents and body bags to prevent infection, which the health agency intends to deliver.
In a detailed timeline, the organization says its goal is to reverse the trend in new Ebola cases within three months and stop all residual transmission in six to nine months. It also hopes to stop any new transmissions in a country within eight weeks of a first case being identified. That seems achievable with a vigorous effort to trace and isolate anyone who has come into contact with an infected person although some contacts in a large country or city will probably be missed.
The World Health Organization emphasized the importance of preventing the spread of the virus to other nations by screening travelers at international airports, seaports and major land crossings to bar travel by people with illnesses that could be Ebola. Some airlines have canceled flights to the afflicted countries. But that is an overreaction, if good screening programs are established. It will be critical to keep air and shipping links operating to deliver medical supplies and other essential goods.
Read the article at NyTimes.com here.
Anna Krauss: A Voice for Those Who Can’t ListenAge: 18Hometown: Manorville, New YorkYears of Girl Scouting: 14
No matter the number of times a test proctor of the English Language Arts regent exams reads a passage aloud, Anna could not hear them. Anna is deaf, and, like all other students in the state, for her the listening portion of the exam was mandatory. The only additional accommodations afforded to students like Anna were extended time and a third or fourth reading of the passage.
For Anna and other deaf students, these accommodations were not so accommodating after all. Unable to hear, they were unable to listen. As Anna says, it turned what was simply one part of her identity into a disability. Lip reading and sign language couldn’t fill the gap. There was a much larger problem in need of fixing. So Anna decided to be the one to take on the task.
How Anna Is Changing the World:
The challenge was how to make the information equally accessible to all students. And the solution, Anna found, was simple: Allow deaf students to read the passage themselves.
With hundreds of emails, website submissions, and letters written, Anna got the attention of the state board of education, the governor’s office, and the senator’s office. It took three years of lobbying before a letter came from New York State Commissioner of Education John B. King Jr. affirming that the Test Access Accommodations Guidelines for students With Disabilities had been altered to provide written transcripts during the listening portion of the exam.
The joy Anna experienced completing her project came from knowing that she had prevented others from feeling that deafness is a barrier to success, a diploma, or realizing their dreams.
Anna will be studying biotechnology and molecular bioscience at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Someday, she hopes to be a teacher for the deaf. Until then, she is a proud advocate!