Teaching Yoga to the Blind

By Kristin Thébaud  |  2017-05-11
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Samantha Adams, accompanied by her guide dog Lotto, teaches yoga classes to others who are visually impaired at Society for the Blind. -- Photos courtesy Kristin Thébaud

Sharing Balance and Peace with Others Who Are Visually Impaired

When Gold River resident Samantha Adams says anyone can do yoga, she really means anyone. Last summer, she taught chair yoga at nonprofit Society for the Blind in Sacramento to a visually impaired 94-year-old, his wife of 74 years and their 65-year-old daughter.

Adams laughs when she talks about the part of her yoga teacher training that is most challenging to teachers – learning how to do yoga blindfolded. Diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa (RP) at age 12 and declared legally blind at age 19, Adams had high partial vision until age 40. By the time she took the yoga teacher training, she was 47 and could only see light.

“One of the most challenging parts about teaching yoga is that people are so used to visual cues that they don’t know how to listen,” Adams said. “Teaching yoga at Society for the Blind is great because everyone is already used to relying on senses other than vision.”

Now at age 49, Adams has been a volunteer yoga teacher at Society for the Blind for more than a year, along with volunteer yoga teacher Kiara Winans. She and Winans now teach a focused style of yoga each month on Wednesdays at 11:45 a.m. at Society for the Blind, aimed at beginners. Adams’ guide dog Lotto participates in all of her classes, resting on his own yoga mat and coming to her side when she ends class with the word “namaste.”

“I love being able to share yoga,” Adams said. “Yoga has given me balance and peace. I can take all of the chaos of my life and set it aside for a little while.”

Her own yoga journey began when she moved to Sacramento from Canada to be with her fiancé, who also is visually impaired and received services at Society for the Blind years before.

“I just walked into a class at the gym and decided to try it,” she said. “I had no idea what I was doing, but it became a good way to cope with how my whole life had changed.”

At that point, Adams had left Canada and a career as a prosecutor with the federal government. She went from being a single mom working 60 hours a week to suddenly having a blended family with two teenage stepdaughters and no job. Not long after, her vision began to deteriorate rapidly.

“I had to stop fighting myself and stop trying to do things like a sighted person,” she said. “I learned that lesson in my head 25 years ago, but I didn’t fully know what it would be like until I was forced to put it into practice. It’s kind of like being pregnant and knowing you’re going to have to give birth, but then you actually have to do it. It’s actually easier now that I’m not thinking I see things when I don’t. It’s easier to not have my vision mixed up in there.”

Now teaching at Society for the Blind, Adams has had opportunities to teach weekly beginning yoga classes of different styles, including vinyasa flow and chair yoga, as well as workshops.

“My ultimate goal is for my students to become so comfortable with yoga that they can walk into a yoga studio to take classes and not feel intimidated,” Adams said. “For now, I’m watching my students here develop more body awareness and better physical balance. You can really feel the energy in the room.”

For more than 60 years, Society for the Blind in Sacramento has created innovative ways to empower individuals living with low vision or blindness to discover, develop and achieve their full potential. Society for the Blind has grown from a dedicated group of volunteers that included the Lions Clubs of America to a nationally recognized agency and the only comprehensive rehabilitative teaching center that provides services for a 27-county region of northern California. The nonprofit provides low-vision eye care, life and job skills training, mentorship, and access to tools to maintain independence for 6,000 youth, adults and seniors experiencing vision loss each year. For more information or to make a donation, visit www.SocietyfortheBlind.org.


CRUSH LIFE: Inspiration From the Field

Story and Photos by Ethan Van Horn (Age 13)  |  2017-05-25

Our Wounded Warriors can still take a big swing at life.

I have been playing America’s game ever since I was 3 years old. I love the smell of a stadium hot dog, fresh cut grass, and the sound of a ball when it hits the bat. Baseball is my sport. I enjoy it on and off the field, and I can truly say it is the most beautiful sport around. I’ve been blessed with the speed to run from home to first base in under 4.5 seconds; that’s 90 feet! While I feel lucky to have such talent, I must admit I rarely consider what it would be like not to have these abilities.

I recently had the opportunity to spend a day with the Wounded Warriors Amputee Softball Team who is made up of some incredibly brave people…true heroes! Not just because they served in the United States military, but because they are amazing, inspiring, and all around brave souls. These men and women were wounded in combat; some lost their arms, some lost their legs… but they never lost their will to succeed!

My dad has been active duty for over ten years now, and I have watched him deploy twice and come back home safely. I never once thought about my dad losing an arm or a leg. I admit feeling like he is indestructible, sort of assuming he would be okay. But the truth is, when a soldier goes to war they are risking their life: there is no guarantee they will be safe.

These warriors went to war just like my dad but they were injured, injured bad. I honestly didn’t know what I was getting into meeting this team. I had never met anyone who lost an arm or leg, and I was a little nervous at first. I kept thinking to myself “What if I offend them with my questions?” I sure didn’t want to do that.

But as I watched these men and women play ball, I realized we share a love of the game. Their bases may not be 90 feet apart, but who cares?! These athletes are doing exactly what I do when I lace up my cleats and hit the field: they are playing the best game around: baseball!

I sat down with two of the players, Cody and Josh, to ask them some questions about their past, and I as in awe by their stories. These athletes were just doing their job, the job they were trained to do, and then the unthinkable happened. They could have given up, but instead they found the courage and the drive to keep on going. They found a new cause to fight for, and refused to let anything get in their way.

Whether they believe it or not they are still heroes, every time they take the field or saddle up to the plate. These athletes get out on that ball field and run, dive for balls, scale the wall for that winning catch, and play their hearts out over and over again. I am sure they must be in pain from time to time, must occasionally stumble on their new legs, but they never give up. By refusing to drop their glove to the ground and quit a game, they send a powerful message about never giving up in life.

I will leave you with something one of the players, Nick, told me, something that will stick with me for the rest of my life. Nick is amazing, his story is so inspiring—this hero has been through more than most of us will ever go through in our lifetime, and he still carries a smile on his face and lives life to the fullest. I asked all the players to sign my jersey, and along with his signature Nick added something special: his personal motto.

I hope it will inspire you as it does me, “Crush Life!”

First printed in MILITARY KIDS' LIFE magazine. Reprinted by permission.


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Register for “Criminal Justice Shadow Day”

Source: Sacramento County Media  |  2017-05-24

Sacramento County high school students are encouraged to register for the 3rd Annual “Criminal Justice Shadow Day.” This unique program gives high school students an opportunity to job shadow professionals from various criminal justice agencies.

Based on the area of interest, students will be paired with prosecuting attorneys, defense attorneys, probation officers, law enforcement officers, investigators and judges to get a first-hand look at the criminal justice process and the different roles within the system. There will also be a presentation on crime scene investigations (CSI), evidence collection, and forensic science used to solve crimes.

This year’s Criminal Justice Shadow Day will be held from 8 a.m. - 2 p.m., Friday, June 16, at the Board of Supervisors’ Chambers in the Sacramento County Administration Building located at 700 H Street, Sacramento.

The program is open to current Sacramento County high school students (incoming 9th graders through 12th graders). Students will need to submit completed registration forms and a signed permission slip, which can be downloaded at www.sacda.org. The deadline to register is June 9, 2017.

Space is limited and on a first come, first served basis.

DA Anne Marie Schubert states, “Since its launch in 2015, close to 200 students from 56 schools across Sacramento County have participated in the Criminal Justice Shadow Day. The success of the program is a result of the partnerships we have with our criminal justice colleagues, and our shared commitment to engage with our youth and inspire them to pursue careers in the justice system.”

The Criminal Justice Shadow Day is one of several DA youth programs designed to increase understanding and build positive relationships between youth and members of the criminal justice system.

See more at: http://www.saccounty.net/news/latest-news


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Meet the Machines Draws Record Crowd

Source: Cordova Recreation and Park District  |  2017-05-24

“Can I drive it home?” Youngsters and their parents came out to enjoy all the machines and exhibits. 
-- Photos by Rick Sloan

Nearly 2500 excited and machine-interested people came out to Cordova Recreation and Park District’s Meet the Machines event on May 13, 2017 at the Mather Sports Center. This annual free community event grows every year, with this year’s attendance being the largest participation to-date.

“Meet the Machines provides a unique opportunity for kids to get up close and personal with vehicles they have seen or heard about,” said Patrick Larkin, CRPD District Administrator. “We hope this event helps to inspire imagination, creativity and future careers.”

Children of all ages spent the afternoon learning about and exploring more than 40 machines and vehicles, including fire trucks, police vehicles, emergency vehicles, boats, garbage trucks, tractors, segways, ambulances and a rideable, motorized chicken named Cluck Norris. Participants sat in the driver’s seat, honked the horns, played the sirens and spoke to the professionals who operate the vehicles. In addition, children enjoyed the Kids Zone filled with bounce houses, balloon animals and face painting, and meeting Tombstone from the hit ABC show Battlebots.

CRPD thanks all the organizations and community leaders who brought their vehicles and participated in this event.


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Vettes & Vets: The American Muscle Car Show

Source: T-Rock Communications  |  2017-05-24

The Vettes & Vets and American Muscle Car Show is being held Monday, May 29, 2017 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the California Automobile Museum, 2200 Front Street, Sacramento. 
-- Photo courtesy of the California Automobile Museum

Hit the road to the California Automobile Museum on Memorial Day for the 8th Annual Vettes & Vets and American Muscle Car Show sponsored by Performance Chevrolet. The popular annual event celebrates America’s love for the automobile while honoring our country’s brave veterans and active duty military. All car owners and enthusiasts are encouraged to enter their vehicles – especially Corvettes, American “muscle cars” and military vehicles – in the show that takes place in a parking lot behind the Museum. At noon, the amazing cars on display will be judged in a variety of categories including a best-in-division award for each generation of Corvette.

In addition to the eye-catching automobiles, attendees will be treated to a DJ spinning some classic summer tunes, military color guard and national anthem along with a barbecue lunch available for purchase.

Car show guests are encouraged to visit the California Automobile Museum that has a world-class and ever-changing collection of vintage and classic vehicles on display. Plus, this is a great opportunity to catch the last weekend of the special “To the Rescue: Fire Trucks and People that Saved Our Cities” exhibit. Lastly, military veterans and active duty military (and their families) will receive FREE museum admission all day on Memorial Day in recognition of their service.

The car show is FREE for spectators. To register a vehicle, pre-registration cost is $30 (includes free admission to the museum for driver and one guest). Museum admission is $10 for Adults, $9 for Vintage (ages 65+), $5 Youth (ages 6-18), FREE for children 5 and under. On 5/29, Veterans and Active Duty Military and their families get in FREE.

The Vettes & Vets and American Muscle Car Show is being held Monday, May 29, 2017 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. *Gates open at 8 a.m. for show vehicles at the California Automobile Museum, 2200 Front Street, Sacramento.

For More information: 916-442-6802 or www.calautomuseum.org


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Sacramento nonprofit Society for the Blind is one of 13 groups across the nation – and one of only three in California – that are competing in the United States Association of Blind Athletes’ and Anthem Blue Cross Foundation’s fifth annual National Fitness Challenge. Society for the Blind and its competitors will provide more than 300 blind and visually impaired youth and adults with an opportunity to increase their physical fitness levels and live healthier, more active lives. Other California participants are Junior Blind in Los Angeles and Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired in the Bay Area.

“We are pleased to again partner with USABA to help break down barriers, and leverage technology to help those with vision impairments enjoy the physical and emotional benefits of exercise,” said Brian Ternan, president of Anthem Blue Cross. “Together, we want to ensure that those with visual impairments are not denied the opportunity to lead an active life and have the opportunity to avoid the health risks that come from a sedentary lifestyle.”

Research has consistently shown that individuals who participate in regular physical activity to improve their health have higher energy levels, a lower risk of health-related diseases, improved psychological health, and lower rates of depression and anxiety. Because of the many barriers and misconceptions about their abilities, approximately 70 percent of the nearly 56,000 children and youth who are blind and visually impaired in the United States do not participate in even a limited physical education curriculum.

When the National Fitness Challenge kicked off in Sacramento this spring, participants who signed up with Society for the Blind had a number of physically challenging activities to look forward to. In efforts to increase participants’ levels and step counts, staff at Society for the Blind will be working with dance instructors, personal trainers, judo instructors and more. In addition to raising their overall physical activity, participants will also become more aware of opportunities in their community.

“Society for the Blind is honored and excited to again be a part of the National Fitness Challenge,” said Shari Roeseler, executive director. “This partnership with USABA and Anthem raises awareness and, more importantly, participation of people with vision loss in health and fitness activities. We look forward to friendly challenges among our fellow participating agencies as we increase the physical fitness and overall health and wellness of our participants.”

For more than 60 years, Society for the Blind has created innovative ways to empower individuals living with low vision or blindness to discover, develop and achieve their full potential. Society for the Blind has grown from a dedicated group of volunteers that included the Lions Clubs of America to a nationally recognized agency and the only comprehensive rehabilitative teaching center that provides services for a 27-county region of northern California. The nonprofit provides low-vision eye care, life and job skills training, mentorship, and access to tools to maintain independence for 6,000 youth, adults and seniors experiencing vision loss each year. For more information or to make a donation: www.SocietyfortheBlind.org.

Since its founding in 1976, USABA, a community-based organization of the United States Olympic Committee, has reached more than 100,000 blind individuals. The organization has emerged as more than just a world-class trainer of blind athletes, it has become a champion of the abilities of Americans who are legally blind with a mission to enhance the lives of blind and visually impaired people by providing the opportunity for participation in sports and physical activity. For more information: www.usaba.org, www.twitter.com/USABA or on Facebook as United States Association of Blind Athletes.

In addition to grant funding, Anthem Blue Cross Foundation will provide volunteers at events across the state during the nine-month program. Local employees will have the opportunity to meet participants and help them achieve their health and wellness goals.

Through charitable grant making, the Anthem Blue Cross Foundation LLC, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Association promotes Anthem Blue Cross’s inherent commitment to enhance the health and well-being of individuals and families in communities that the company serves. The foundation focuses its funding on strategic initiatives that address and provide innovative solutions to health care challenges, as well as promoting the Healthy Generations Program, a multi-generational initiative that targets specific disease states and medical conditions. These include: prenatal care in the first trimester, low birth weight babies, cardiac morbidity rates, long term activities that decrease obesity and increase physical activity, diabetes prevalence in adult populations, adult pneumococcal and influenza vaccinations and smoking cessation. The Foundation also coordinates the company’s year-round Associate Giving program and its parent foundation provides a 50 percent match of associates’ pledges.

®ANTHEM is a registered trademark of Anthem Insurance Companies, Inc. The Blue Cross names and symbol are registered marks of the Blue Cross Association. Anthem Blue Cross is the trade name of Blue Cross of California. Anthem Blue Cross and Anthem Blue Cross Life and Health Insurance Company are independent licensees of the Blue Cross Association. For more information: www.twitter.com/AskAnthem,  www.twitter.com/AnthemBC_News or www.facebook.com/AskAnthem.


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Cordova Creek Naturalization Project Recognized

Story and Photos Courtesy Sacramento County Media  |  2017-05-17

Cordova Creek Naturalization Project during construction and after.

An important project to improve the nature of urban runoff in the Cordova Creek area has been overseen for the past two years by the Department of Water Resources and Department of Regional Parks. The Cordova Creek Naturalization Project is designed to restore the creek, develop recreational use, and offer a nature study area.

This unique concept has caught the eye of Sacramento Environmental Commission, which awarded the project an award for demonstrating “outstanding environmental stewardship” on April 17. 

The Cordova Creek Naturalization Project gave the area a much-needed face-lift by removing an existing trapezoidal-shaped concrete channel, and replacing it with a natural winding channel that complements the current land use. It also offers a functioning, living stream that improves the environment.

This wasn’t an easy fix. Due to the size of the project, it was divided into two phases. The first phase began June 2015 with the second phase starting April 2016, and has transformed the creek into a natural riparian corridor. The new design includes reintroducing native trees, shrubs and groundcover along the stream banks, wetland areas and surrounding uplands. The Cordova Creek Naturalization Project augments 80 acres of recently restored riparian woodlands and native grasslands to the west, and the 50-acre Soil Born Farm and native plant nursery to the east. This includes a walking trail with interpretive signs to provide the public access from the Dedo Way River Access to the American River Parkway.

The Project was developed by a partner group, including Sacramento County Departments of Water Resources & Regional Parks, Water Forum, Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency, City of Rancho Cordova, Soil Born Farms and California Native Plant Society.

The public will get a chance to learn more about the project at a grand opening of the Cordova Creek Naturalization Project on May 21, 2017. See more at: www.saccounty.net/news/latest-news/Pages/Cordova-Creek-Naturalization-Project-Recognized.


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“Infrastructure Week,” Highlights $2.7 Million Water Projects

Source: Golden State Water Company Media  |  2017-05-17

In recognition of “Infrastructure Week” from May 15-19, 2017, Golden State Water Company (Golden State Water) is highlighting plans to invest more than $2.7 million for local water infrastructure projects in 2017. These investments are planned throughout the Arden Cordova service area, which includes portions of Rancho Cordova, Gold River and Arden Manor.

Golden State Water continually invests to maintain and improve the local water system to ensure delivery of reliable, quality water is not compromised. Local projects planned for 2017 include: Pipeline projects to replace and install more than 3,600 feet of water main throughout the service area; Water supply enhancements through facilities upgrades and implementation of technology at local well and water treatment plants; Upgrading local meters, services and safety equipment.

For a complete list of local infrastructure projects, customers are encouraged to visit www.gswater.com/arden-cordova.

“Golden State Water has invested approximately $700 million companywide for infrastructure improvements over the last decade, because proactive system maintenance is critical to protecting water service now and for future generations,” said Denise Kruger, Senior Vice President of Regulated Utilities for Golden State Water. “We continually invest to improve our water systems here locally and across all of our service territories.”

The American Society of Civil Engineers recently released its 2017 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, which assigned a “D” grade to the nation’s drinking water infrastructure. The report noted that upgrading existing water systems to meet drinking water infrastructure needs of a growing population may require at least $1 trillion over the next 25 years.

“As the nation’s aging water infrastructure continues to draw much attention, proactive system investments to protect water systems and avoid the costly and sometimes dangerous effects of deferring maintenance is now more important than ever,” said Kruger. “We appreciate the community’s patience as we work to complete these important projects.”

For additional information about Golden State Water’s local water service, customers are encouraged to call the 24-hour Customer Service Center at 800.999.4033, visit www.gswater.com or follow @GoldenStateH20 on Twitter.


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SMUD Launches “Shine” Community Sponsorship Program

Source: SMUD Media  |  2017-05-17

SMUD recently announced that it has launched Shine, a new community development program designed to improve and revitalize neighborhoods in the Sacramento region.

Shine awards will range from $5,000 to $100,000 and are very competitive. Any nonprofit organization —501(c)(3) or 501 (c)(6)— within SMUD’s service territory is eligible to apply.

Shine awards are available at three funding levels: Spark (up to $10,000), Amplifier (up to $50,000) and Transformer (up to $100,000). Applications will be accepted through June 26.

While SMUD will consider a broad variety of potential projects, it is primarily interested in proposals within the following areas: Neighborhood revitalization or clean up; STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math); Environmental, energy-efficiency, energy conservation or greenhouse gas reduction; General beautification.

“As a not-for-profit, community-owned organization, we work hard every day to improve the lives of our customers,” said SMUD CEO & General Manager Arlen Orchard. “The Shine program is a perfect extension of that commitment. By taking a collaborative approach and working directly with local nonprofits, we’re helping make improvements that neighborhood leaders believe will have the biggest impacts on residents in their communities.”

SMUD awarded three pilot Shine sponsorships over the past six months to test the feasibility and administration of the program. Those grants include: Lighting up the Kay and St. Rose of Lima Park (Applicant: Downtown Sacramento Partnership); Creating the College and Sports Academy of Del Paso Heights (Applicant: Mutual Assistance Network of Del Paso Heights); Renovating the Wellspring Women’s Center kitchen (Applicant: Wellspring Women’s Center).

“SMUD’s Shine award will provide an important spotlight on the great people and exciting opportunities in Del Paso Heights,” said Richard Dana, executive director of Mutual Assistance Network. “We see it as the start of something tremendous.”

A Shine program information session will be held on Wednesday, June 7 at 12 p.m. at the SMUD Customer Service Center at 6301 S St. in Sacramento.

To RSVP for an information session, or for additional questions, please email rsvp@smud.org.

For more information about the SMUD Shine program and to apply today, visit www.smud.org/Shine.

To learn more about the commitment of SMUD to this community and SMUD’s efforts to keep Sacramento bright for more than 70 years, visit www.smud.org/Bright.


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Bill Giving Tax Relief to Homeowners and Renters Passes First Hurdle

Source: Office of Assemblyman Matthew Harper  |  2017-05-17

On May 16th, Assemblyman Matthew Harper (R-Huntington Beach) and Assemblyman Phillip Chen (R- Diamond Bar) announced the passage of their “American Dream” bill which increases the existing homeowners’ exemption on their property tax from $7,000 to $25,000, giving relief to homeowners, renters and those aspiring to own a home.

“Homeowners and renters in California are paying some of the highest overall taxes in the nation,” Assemblyman Harper said. “It’s about time that the size of the homeowner’s property tax exemption kept up with the increases in cost of living. Also, I want to thank Orange County Assessor Claude Parrish for working with me to bring this bill forward.”

“High property taxes are making it impossible for too many Californians, who spent their lifetime living and working here, to stay”, said Assemblyman Phillip Chen. This bill would provide immediate relief for millions of homeowners with an emphasis on helping those whose taxes far exceed their ability to pay.”

The homeowner’s exemption hasn’t been increased in 40 years. Meanwhile, the cost of a median priced house has increased from $21,000 to over $450,000, and represents a home that only 30 percent of Californians can afford to purchase. California has a housing crisis and providing tax relief for homeowners and renters will unquestionably lead to enhanced economic stability,” said David Wolfe, Legislative Director with the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.

The “American Dream” bill will also adjust the renter’s credit by a corresponding amount.


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