Opportunity for SOU to learn life lesson

Opportunity for SOU to learn life lesson

To SOU President Mary Cullinan:

We read with interest about the decision of Southern Oregon University to force a young student with Down syndrome to drop a ceramics class due to her purported intellectual inability to engage with the academic material. The actions of your university have attracted attention across the country and internationally. How much better would it have been to highlight the achievements of the student on your campus and demonstrate that all students can learn from each other? Imagine your university, under your leadership, as a model for educational opportunities for people with disabilities.

Our son with Down syndrome has many friends, both in special education and regular education classes. So often we have been told by the families of his peers that their own children are learning incredible life lessons from their interactions with our son. The exposure of our son to academic opportunities in many different settings means so much to him socially, academically, and therapeutically.

Though I will never meet them, I am proud of the other students on your campus for demonstrating and expressing their outrage at the action taken by the university.

I can point to countless art shows and exhibits that include art created by people with disabilities.

Our own son had one of his pieces of art shown at a city-wide exhibit for all students! Let us all hope that our world will find a place for the talents of everyone.

Best wishes to you for insight in future opportunities for inclusion and support of people with disabilities. May you learn through your own life lessons.

Vilma Luna

Austin, Texas

Thanks to elves in Shoebox project

Whatever would we do without our Holiday Shoebox "elves" at ACCESS Inc.? Whether you were a shoebox shopper, a shoebox stuffer, a shoebox wrapper or deliverer, we would not have had such a fabulous program this year without you! Please know how grateful we are for each and every one of you. Because of you, more than 465 holiday shoeboxes were filled and delivered to local seniors and shut-ins to help brighten their holidays.

If you had the opportunity to be a deliverer, hopefully you were able to interact with some of the recipients and know how truly thankful they were to receive a shoebox. We've received some great cards and phone calls thanking us for their special gift.

Again, thank you for supporting our seniors and people with disabilities. You brought tears of joy and truly brightened the lives of many through giving to the ACCESS Holiday Shoebox Program!

Ellen Gray and Barbara Bieg

ACCESS Inc. Supportive Service, Senior Outreach Program

City recognizes conservation work

In a letter published Jan. 6, Hilde Baughman laments that the city does not present a Conservationist of the Year Award. As a matter of fact, the city's Conservation Commission decided last fall to present such an award.

In fact, on Earth Day, April 23, awards will be presented in four categories — Conservationist of the Year, Youth Conservationist of the Year, Business Conservationist of the Year and Non-Profit Organization Conservationist of the Year.

Nomination forms are available on the city's website. We encourage city residents to participate by conserving our resources and to nominate persons, businesses and nonprofit organizations that are doing outstanding conservation work.

David Runkel, a commissioner working on this project

Ashland

Gypsy Soul shared

the gift of music

During the holiday season, we strive to find meaning in the acts of giving and receiving. The two Gypsy Soul benefit concerts for WinterSpring Center Transforming Grief and Loss this December were rich examples of both! Roman Morykit and Cilette Swan, talented Gypsy Soul musicians, shared the gift of heart-moving music with the audience and the gift of much-needed funds to WinterSpring Center. I attended the concerts on Friday and Saturday and left each night feeling blessed to receive music that resonated with my heart and soul. It was truly an uplifting holiday experience!

The funds WinterSpring receives from these concerts ensures that more children, teens and adults will receive needed support services during the aftermath of devastating loss. Thank you, Roman and Cilette, for enriching our lives with your beautiful music and for your contribution to the health and well-being of our local community! Thanks also go to Eric Allen, Angel DeShane and all the volunteers who helped make these two concerts big successes! Our gratitude is endless.

Sue Carroll

executive director, WinterSpring Center Transforming Grief and Loss