Story #4

And back to a Good story…

Story #4

Just call me Juice.

One of my younger buddies always has something to announce when he walks into FIT.  Usually he identifies what everyone else in the gym is doing.

Look at that man; he’s doing push-ups.  See that woman; she’s doing a pull-up.

Then he moves on to me.  Sometimes he’ll describe my job and other times he announces my birthday, but he always states who I am and describes what I’m wearing.  Two weeks ago it went a little something like this…

It’s Jennifer Anne Pleimann.  You’re wearing F-I-T on your jacket just like those people over there (he points out every trainer that has a FIT shirt on).  You always wear a jacket.  Why do you always wear a jacket Jennifer Anne Pleimann?

And before I have a chance to answer the last question…

P-L-E-I-M-A-N-N.  Pleimann.  Rhymes with CLYMAN.  Some call you Jen for short.  Jen is your nickname but Jennifer is your real name.

I then asked him if he wanted to know a little secret.  Of course he said yes, so I told him that my family has a nickname for me as well.

“They call me Juice.  I’m not sure my Dad even knows my real name anymore…or my brother-in-law for that matter.  And sometimes they even combine Juice and Jennifer into  ‘juicifer!'”

Juice.  J-U-I-C-E.  Juicifer Anne Pleimann.  Jen’s full name is Jennifer but her Dad calls her Juicifer (by now he’s jumping up and down with the excitement of his new information)

….

And two weeks later, the whole world knows my nickname or at least every person who walks by our group because he shouts it out numerous times throughout each session.  And recently every time I ask him to do something…

Whatever you say Juicifer!!

While I may never hear the end of my nickname, I am Thankful for moments like these because every time he says it, I can’t help but smile.


Story #3

It’s time for the Ugly.  I can only imagine what some of our sessions look like from the outside.  Every Monday after I finish a 12 hour day and back to back sessions of FITBuddies,  Scott asks me what kind a drink I’ll be having that night.  I get many comments from clients and trainers.  One client told her trainer that I define the word patient and am going to make a great mom some day.  While yes, after ten years of working with kids with Autism, I have a whole new perspective on what patience actually means, I still have my moments.  The Ugly stories I am going to share are my own personal “ugly” moments; the moments when I breakdown.

Story #3

A couple weeks ago, one of the buddies was having a very rough day.  Everything was upsetting him and finally he’d had enough.  He’d kicked us all, hit us, threw stuff our way and now he announced he was going to jump in the mailbox, never to return.  I guess I was kicked one too many times that day but instead of helping the situation I added to it and sarcastically said, “Hold that thought.  Let me go get some stamps first.  Where should we send you…China?”

I will have to say this did get him away from the mailbox but he wasn’t amused.  He walked over to me, grabbed my arms and said, “you are so rude.”

This has now become a big joke between all of us and whenever things get a little crazy, we pick a different country that we’re going to ship someone off to for the day.

I’m Thankful that he called me out on what he felt was an Ugly moment.  I am also Thankful for these ugly moments because they usually provide a good laugh after…

Story #2

Yesterday I told a good story; today it’s time for a bad one.  For the record, I don’t like calling it a bad story or moment but it is simply the trying, sometimes stressful moments that we encounter during a session.  My point in telling the “bad” stories is to inform, educate and explain how even the toughest moments are “good.”  And on some occasions, when it gets really “bad,” sometimes you just have to laugh.  So yes, you have my permission to laugh at some of the stories as well!

The Bad…

“I hated that dippin dot cake at your birthday”

“I didn’t have a dippin dot cake at my birthday!!”

“There’s no such thing as a dippin dot cake!”

“Jen, make him stop talking!!” (as he covers his ears)

“He’s lying, he’s lying, he’s lying”

“There is too a dippin dot cake!!!!! Tell them, Jen, there IS a dippin dot cake”

“I think I might explode if I hear another word about dippin dot cakes!!!”

This went on in a circle for about 15-20 minutes.  I had only been working with the boys (ages 8-11) for a couple weeks and we were definitely still in the building rapport/trust phase.  My two volunteers looked at me as the conversation started and I whispered to them, not to say a word.  At this point, interrupting and trying to break it up would have led to a greater breakdown.  I silently directed each kid to sit down on a separate curb and the rest of us sat quietly and listened to the exchange.  All we could do was smile when we heard the last comment because at that point, I think we were all about to explode!  And then all of a sudden the conversation stopped and they looked up at me almost in shock that I had not ended the conversation myself or sided with someone.  Then one said, “can we workout now?”  And it was over, end of story.

I am Thankful for these conversations because 1) they definitely put my patience to the test and 2) because it allows a social interaction (often non-existent in kids with ASD).  What is common is that that they get caught on one idea, thought, etc  (such as dippin dots cakes) and can’t move on.  When this happens, it sets up an opportunity to give them some options for re-directing themselves when these situations/conversations occur in the future.

But sometimes the Bad does not always end Good. Sometimes it just gets Ugly….


What Are You Thankful For?

With the holidays under way, November is traditionally the month that we reflect on what we are thankful for.  Most of us share sweet, kind, often tear-jerking stories regarding people, objects, situations and life’s simple moments that are special to us.  Those of you who know me, know that my buddies are definitely on my list of people I am thankful for and that I can tell story after story of special moments, conversations, etc that I have shared with each buddy.  What I don’t often talk about are the “bad” moments, the tough days, and every stressful situation that I encounter.  For the month of November, I am not only going to share the kind, sweet stories but also the ones that almost make me pull my hair out or as some say, contribute to my desire to drink a nice cocktail on a Monday after work.  I will then explain why I am thankful for not only the Good, but the Bad and even the Ugly.

Story # 1:  THE GOOD

I wish everyone could meet Spencer.  You can’t help but smile when he walks into FIT.  Maybe it’s simply because he’s smiling from ear to ear (that is, as long as he can locate me within a minute or two).  He is now not only a participant but a volunteer.  Spencer comes to our 3:30 group and helps with the younger crew.  It was quite a shock for Spencer his first couple sessions with the boys (ages 8-11 with ASD) as Spencer would never consider not listening to what I say.  He follows every rule, every instruction, and would never interrupt me when I’m talking.  I remember the first session he had with the boys and it was definitely what I like to call “controlled chaos.”  The boys were all screaming for three different reasons, running around like crazy and all of a sudden I heard Spencer yell (unheard of), “everyone stop, everyone stop, please listen to Jen!!”  He looked at me and said, “Jen, why aren’t they listening to you!?”

I am so thankful that Spencer is now also a volunteer.  He has come a long way and is becoming more and more mature in dealing with some tough situations but mostly, his constant smile throughout that hour helps all of us get through some of our “bad” days…

Thank YOU for your Support!

Thank you, thank you, thank you.  I can’t say it enough.  A big thank you for the overwhelming amount of support over the course of the last few months.  Whether you donated to TeamFITBuddies in the Best Buddies Challenge, offered support and encouragement to Jeremy as he learned to ride a bike or took on the somewhat bothersome task of voting daily in the Pepsi Refresh Contest, I appreciate it.  But mostly, thank you for putting up with me and the endless amounts of emails, phone calls, fundraisers, “extra” events that I seem to get myself involved in and so on.  I know there are an endless amount of  good causes/events/fundraisers out there and at some point you have to choose what to delete, ignore or let fade away.  And that is what I thank you the most for:  for not only NOT deleting emails, posts, etc but for passing them on and telling our story to your friends, family, and so on (most of you have also learned that I don’t stop so it’s probably better to spread the word in order to get me out of your hair:).  At any rate, most of you also know that for me it is not about the dollars raised or the votes accumulated, it’s about the awareness created and that has far exceeded my expectations the past few months.

It started with Jeremy as he learned to ride a bike.  He is still on cloud nine from all of the exposure he received from FIT, fellow riders, the Best Buddies staff, Eye on the Bay, and from the opportunity to give a speech at the opening ceremonies.  And then came October.  I can’t tell you the amount of emails I have received in the past month regarding the Pepsi Refresh Contest. Although I love the emails simply saying, “I’m voting everyday, why isn’t your count changing,” some of the best were from friends of friends who have a family member or close friend with Down Syndrome or Autism and truly understand the lack of programs available for these special individuals.  The contest was successful in that it helped spread the word, got people asking questions and created more opportunities for growth for FITBuddies.

October was a big month for FITBuddies and while we may not have won the contest, we are well on our way to growing, expanding and improving the health & wellness of more and more individuals with intellectual disabilities.  Thank you again for all your help and more updates coming soon…

One of our volunteers, Kim, helping the ladies with their push-ups

Vote for FITBuddies!!

Vote for FITBuddies in the Pepsi Refresh Contest and help us win $25,000 in grant money to help expand the program and provide scholarship money to participants!

Voting is easy! Please click on
http://www.refresheverything.com/buddiesinaction
(click on “vote”, create a log in, then click on vote again)

You can also TEXT 102861 to 73774

Voting last the whole month of OCTOBER and you can vote EVERY DAY!!!

Thank you in advance for your help and support!

The Purpose of the Course was to Increase Confidence…

Every organization that was present at Access to Adventure 2010 was asked to provide an activity highlighting their program that would attract participants of all ages and many abilities.  FITBuddies created an obstacle course with many variations that would allow for even the Xenias who constantly tell me “I can’t do it!” to finish wanting to do it over and over and over again…

Step 1:  Agility Drills-they could run, walk, skip, hop, etc through the ladder and either jump or step over the hurdles…

Step 2:  Balance!…we used a fire hose as our ‘balance beam’.  Everyone took this part very seriously and often wanted me to lead….

Step 3:  Run!

Step 4:  Bean Bag Toss-We had some VERY accurate throws and then those who just ran up to the bucket and dropped their bean bags in laughing and cheering for themselves…

After this participant finished the bean bag toss, he would grab my hand and ask, “again, again, again?”  I lost track of how many times we repeated the course together…

Buddies in ACTION is about increasing CONFIDENCE.

N is for Nutrition

N is for Nutrition.  If we are going to improve the Health & Wellness of this special population, we must also focus on nutrition.  Parents of individuals with special needs have many obstacles to overcome and battles to fight  (really all parents do!) and, more often than not, what their child eats becomes the least of their worries.  Buddies In Action would like to change this as what we eat (yes, all of us not just those with special needs) has a huge impact on how we feel, act, and function on a day-to-day basis.  Our goal is not to create more ‘work’ for the parents but to educate these individuals and make them responsible for their own nutrition in an easy and manageable manner. 

Buddies In Action is dedicated to helping individuals with Intellectual Disabilities take ACTION and improve all areas of their Health & Wellness.

Buddies In ACTION is about improving  one’s NUTRITION.

O is for Opportunity

O is for Opportunity. Buddies In Action is about creating Opportunities.  The opportunity to have access to the same Health & Wellness services as you and I; the opportunity to improve one’s Health and increase one’s quality of life; the opportunity for inclusion and acceptance; the opportunity to feel successful; the opportunity to be part of a fun and social environment and the list goes on and on.

Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities deserve the same opportunities as everyone else in the community.  We can truly help better the lives of these special Individuals by providing them with the opportunity to improve their health and well-being.

Buddies In ACTION is about creating OPPORTUNITIES.