Individuals living with ALS may lose their ability to speak, or find that the act of speaking becomes exhausting as the disease progresses. Devices that augment human speech help sustain a connection between those with ALS and their families, friends, and health-care providers. With several applications available for download that convert text to speech, the iPad can be an important tool for individuals living with ALS, providing them with a means of communicating verbally and helping them participate in family life and personal medical decisions. The iPad is easier to obtain than other communication devices for those with ALS, which often require prescriptions and the approval of insurance companies.
Janette Fennell was locked in her own trunk with her husband—forced there at gunpoint—thinking only about her child. Their 9-month-old had been in the vehicle with them before the carjacking, but now they didn't know where he was and what kind of danger he was in. After escaping, she was fortunate enough to be reunited with their son, and she found her life's purpose. In the years following, she led a successful campaign to institute internal trunk-release mechanisms in all vehicles manufactured in the US. But this victory was just the beginning.
During the campaign, parents had contacted her to help with other incidents: cars being knocked into gear and children being left in overheated vehicles. So Janette made it her mission to inform the public about nontraffic motor-vehicle accidents and to help protect children from the dangers of automobiles. Today her organization, KidsAndCars.org, works to prevent more than 200 annual child deaths caused by such tragedies as backovers, heat stroke, and power-window strangulations. And KidsAndCars.org goes beyond advocacy too—it also collects data on fatalities and helps survivors deal with their grief through volunteer support systems.
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Reach Out and Read Kansas City supports early literacy development in children from low-income families by distributing books during medical examinations. Every year children from birth to 5 years old visit pediatric doctors for vaccinations and checkups. Doctors partnering with Reach Out and Read Kansas City talk to families about the importance of reading aloud to children and give them an age-appropriate book to take home. Volunteers also distribute pamphlets and gently used books in waiting rooms for children to read and take and, when possible, read aloud to children while they wait to model techniques for parents. Reach Out and Read Kansas City gives books to more than 28,000 children every year though partnerships with 49 area clinics. The books mostly go to underserved families and come in 25 languages to reach a wide variety of communities.
Started by a group of driven University of Kansas medical students, JayDoc exists to provide health care for the uninsured and underinsured residents of Greater Kansas City and support medical students with opportunities to apply their learning. The clinic mitigates the cultural, financial, and linguistic barriers that often prevent people from receiving quality health care by providing a mix of no-cost preventive and urgent care with onsite interpreters. The staff of volunteering licensed physicians and medical students provides primary care and prescription medications, prenatal care, and HIV screening, with a special emphasis on nonemergency urgent care, diabetes, and women's health care. The team offers its experience to every patient who arrives at the clinic and does not ask for insurance or citizenship status. Patients may also be connected to other resources such as dental care and free legal advice provided by LawHawks from the University of Kansas School of Law after meeting with a social-services volunteer.
Formed by a group of young professionals who wanted to leave a positive mark on their city, SocialHeart raises funds and awareness for Kansas City’s local nonprofit organizations. After two years of careful event planning and volunteering, the group held its first events in 2012, each based on its belief that raising money for a good cause should be fun. To that end, the team coordinates elaborate events throughout the year, such as themed costume parties, date auctions, pub crawls, and brewery tours—all of which benefit local nonprofit groups and clowns looking to socialize without being recognized. SocialHeart also provides social media, marketing support, graphic design, and website or technical support for organizations’ events, as well as organized volunteers for nonprofit events if needed.
Since 2010, Sleepyhead Beds' team of volunteers has collected new or gently used beds and bedding to give to children in need—working with the belief that all children deserve a good night’s sleep. The volunteers pick up donated mattresses, and then transport them to the organization's warehouse for sterilization before delivering the beds to the children. In 2011, Sleepyhead Beds delivered approximately 1,800 beds to Kansas City–area children.