Tuesday, May 29, 2012

May is Better Hearing and Speech Month!

This is a bonus blog for this month…. because May is Better Hearing and Speech Month! My wonderful co-worker, Nicole Perman, has done an excellent job writing this article and I thought it was important to share with you.

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) has designated May as Better Hearing and Speech Month.  This is an annual event that provides opportunities to raise awareness about communication disorders and to promote treatment that can improve the quality of life for those who experience problems with speaking, understanding, or hearing. Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists around the country incorporate education into their professions to promote what we do as professionals.  The Speech-Language Pathologists at Beyond Boundaries are proud to promote Better Hearing and Speech Month at the clinic and outside of the clinic with their clients, families and co-service providers.  The halls at Beyond Boundaries are decorated with facts and information to promote our profession.  Clients have participated in activities to further the knowledge of their individual goals and to help spread the word about their favorite activities and what they have learned by participating in Speech-Language Therapy.  Parents are asked to give input of the differences they have seen in their children and the benefits of therapy. 

Did You Know?  Approximately 43,000,000 people in the U.S. have communication disorders (problems with speech, voice, language and/or hearing).
Did You Know?  Delayed speech development is one of the most common symptoms of developmental delay in children.  It occurs in 5-10% of all children. 
Did You Know?  Beyond Boundaries provides free speech-language-hearing screenings for all ages.  Contact a therapist or call 701-356-0062 to line up a free screening for yourself or a loved one today!

Nicole Perman, MS, CCC-SLP (Speech Language Pathologist)

Have a great rest of May!
Ashley Voigt

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Going the Distance….

My sister and I flew out to Washington D.C. for ALS National Advocacy Days on May 11th and the second we arrived we dropped our bags and started sight-seeing! We spent our entire afternoon looking at monuments and it was amazing! Then, my family that lives in D.C. picked us up and we went to their house and grilled out; it was a blast! I got to meet my baby cousin for the first time, which was a blessing. On Saturday, we continued to sight-see with my family and they took us to see the Discovery space shuttle and to our first vineyard. It was another beautiful day full of memories! Before my sister and I went to bed, we checked out the National ALS Facebook page. They posted a picture of me and had a little bio of me. So many people from all over the United States commented on my photo and thanked me for what I was doing. It was such a touching experience for me, because I didn’t know one person that thanked me.

Sunday was the day that ALS National Advocacy Days started. I got to speak at the opening ceremony and share a little bit about mine and my mom’s story. Once the opening ceremony was over, there were so many people that came up to me. It was amazing listening to everyone’s story. We then had a candle lighting ceremony in honor and remembrance of everyone who has or had ALS. It was a very emotional time for me and my sister. I think that it is hard to try to explain to someone what we have gone through, but everyone at that ceremony knew exactly what we were feeling. 

Monday was a very long and exciting day for my sister and I. All day we sat and listened to the lead researches and doctors that are working with ALS. We learned so much, more than we could have ever imagined. I got to meet a lot of people that are on the National ALS board and it was a great experience. Each of them was so grateful for what I was doing. It was a very long day, but I got so much insight to what was happening in the ALS community across the United States, and even across the world. I also had more emotional moments. It was so inspirational to see everyone who had ALS at this conference and see them fight. It gave me even more passion to fight ALS and to raise more awareness money so that a treatment is able to be found. Monday night was the last night we spent with our family, and we again had an amazing time! We went to Georgetown to eat and it was great! 
Tuesday was a very busy day! We attended the closing ceremony, and before you knew it we were off to Capitol Hill to talk to North Dakota’s senators and representative. I was very nervous, because it was the first time that I was lobbying on the Hill. I first went to Representative Rick Berg’s office, and met with one of his assistants. He was still flying in, but it was a great experience and she really listened to my story and why it was so important that the three bills I was lobbying for passed. Next was Senator John Hoeven’s office. I met with him, and he was such a heart-warming person. He listened to my story and even watched a video that I made about my mom. I hope to be sharing that video for everyone soon! My last stop was with Senator Kent Conrad. He was presenting a bill on the floor, and so I again met with his assistant. She was an absolutely amazing woman and knew a lot about ALS. She was my mom’s age, so I think that when she watched the video of my mom it really hit her. She was so grateful for what I was doing; everyone was. There were so many people that stopped me when I was walking on Capitol Hill and asked me questions. I was more than glad to advocate for the ALS Association and it was such a great time! My sister and I then had to rush to catch our flight home, but we enjoyed every second we had in Washington D.C. I know that I am a great advocate for ALS and I am so excited to continue with what I am doing. We are still waiting to hear if the bills are going to pass, but I should know more this week.

ALS Facts:
  • Only 20% of patients live past 5 years and 10% live past 10 years
  •  About 10% of ALS is Familial
  •  Sporadic ALS is the most common in the United States
  •  ALS is very difficult to diagnose due to the fact there is no specific test to see if you have ALS, it is often diagnosed by ruling out several other diseases
With Love,
Miss North Dakota International
Erica Lemna

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Happy May everyone!

I truly cannot believe May is quickly flying by with June fast approaching! As I start preparing for my graduation, time just doesn’t seem to want to slow down. That being said I know it’s been a while since you all have heard from me so I’m going to fill you in on what I’ve been up to. In April I had the privilege of personally organizing a lesson plan for the Eagles Head Start program. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Head Start, it is a federally funded program for children coming from low-income families. Students who attend a Head Start program partake in educational activities geared towards preparing them for kindergarten, and the kids usually range from 3-5 years old. As a member of my National Honor Society Leadership group, I volunteered to help head this project. The activities I planned centered on how to be heart healthy individuals! We started by asking all the kids if they knew where their hearts were. Answers ranged from in their head to in their stomachs. However there were some smarties who knew exactly where it was! Next we fashioned a popsicle stick with one happy paper heart and one sad paper heart. We then asked the kids what some of their favorite activities were. They answered anywhere from video games to playing tag in the yard. Using those activities as examples we then asked the kids if their hearts were “happy” or “sad” while they were doing those. While their favorite part was most definitely creating the happy and sad hearts, they caught on very fast to what activities elevated their heart rates. After we finished with our paper hearts we got to finger paint! We attempted to place hand prints in the shape of a heart on a canvas board (it turned out more like a circle) however the kiddies enjoyed it nonetheless. They were pleasantly surprised their teacher was allowing them to get their hands so messy! Finally we ended by standing in a big circle and dancing the hokey pokey together. Right after we finished we felt our pulse and all the kids proceeded to scream that their hearts were “very happy right now!” I had such a good time, and I know the rest of my classmates felt the same way. So many of those kids really knew how to leave an impression.

Next came the heart walk! Ashley, Erica, and I participated in the annual heart walk that was held at the Scheels Center towards the end of April. We had fun taking pictures in our red boa’s, participating in the walk itself, and most of all hearing the inspirational stories that drew people to the event.  The Go Red events we do are so much fun because we all three love spending the time together! We even had a ‘sister queen’ sleepover the night before!

Following those events things with school started to really pick up. As I began preparing for my AP exams it seemed all my free time was spent studying at Starbucks. As of today I am happy to say that I have 2 of my 3 AP exams behind me and my final one is tomorrow! I am so looking forward to being done with those and getting back to focusing on Nationals! It is a good thing I love being busy because in the upcoming weeks a whole lot is about to happen! Stay tuned to hear all about it!

Miss Teen ND International 2012

Monday, May 14, 2012

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library

In 1996, the famous Dolly Parton took a dream and turned it into a reality. She launched her Imagination Library for the children in her low-income community of Tennessee, after seeing her friends and relatives struggle to read. She saw how reading difficulties continued to negatively impact people throughout their lives. Currently the Imagination Library is in 48 states, the UK and Canada representing over 700,000 eligible children. Dolly Parton is truly the reality of what ONE person can do to empower others.

The concept of the Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library program is to get books into the hands of children to improve literacy. The only requirement is that the child be within age range and live in an approved area. If those requirements are met, a new book is mailed to each eligible child every month from when they are born until their 5th birthday. I feel so strongly about this program and how valuable it is for families to register to increase parent involvement and child literacy through the gift of reading. I was accepted to speak at the 2012 Parent Involvement and Technology Conference held in Fargo late April. Many attendees raised their hand when I asked who has not yet heard about the Imagination Library. Although this program has hit the international level, there are many individuals, even within my community, who are unaware of this amazing opportunity! As Mrs. North Dakota International, I am thrilled to volunteer for the program to bring more awareness and hopefully encourage more parent involvement. 

As soon as the month of May was here I was more eager than ever to volunteer for the Dolly Parton Imagination Library program. It sure didn’t take long. That first day of May I was able to help the wonderful United Way members and First Lady Betsy Dalrymple deliver May Day baskets filled with the Imagination Library books to daycares around the community. Since 2003, when the Cass/Clay Counties launched their own Imagination Library, they have given out over 750,000 books!!! What a monumental accomplishment and to think that there are many families that have not yet heard about this program encourages me even more to promote my platform.

Two days later I was asked to be a special guest at the RED Event in Grand Forks. The purpose of this event was to bring more awareness of the importance of reading and to kick off the Imagination Library within their community. There were over 350 in attendance for the event, approximately 180 families who pre-registered and a total of 144 children registered to reap the wonderful benefits of the Dolly Parton Imagination Library!

It was a very successful and rewarding couple of days. I was honored to be a part of both events and to help bring more awareness of the program. Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is an valuable program that every child should have access to and a great opportunity for parents to spend time with and read to their kids. By inspiring parents to read to their children we can help them: dream more, learn more, care more, and be more!

Ashley Voigt
Mrs. North Dakota International 2012

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

An Impact That Will Last Forever

I had my second Walk to Defeat ALS this weekend in Bismarck! It was great and to top it off the rain held off for the walk and it turned out to be a beautiful morning! Usually I participate in the walks with a team, but this time I was a volunteer. We arrived at Sertoma Park at 7:30 in the morning and starting hanging up signs, blowing up balloons, and getting everything organized for the walkers to arrive. It was a great experience to be on the other side as a volunteer; I got to see how much work goes into setting up for the ALS walks. Once the walkers started to arrive, I was in charge of getting the teams registered and registering new walkers for the day. There were so many people and the time flew by. Before I knew it, it was time for me to give my speech.

 I again shared a little bit of my mom’s and my story and made an impact on some people, but this time I impacted a family in a different way. After the walkers came back from walking and we started taking everything down and cleaning up, a man approached me. He explained to me that he lost his daughter from ALS and she was only 34, so when he heard me say my mom was 34 when she was diagnosed it really hit home for him. He then pulled out his phone, showed me a picture, and said, “and this is what she left behind.” The picture was of three beautiful children, twin boys who were 13 and a girl who was 11. At that moment, I can’t describe to you how I felt. I started talking with the man and I said I wish I could talk with the kids, and he happily said that they hadn’t left yet. I walked with him over to the rest of his family and introduced myself. We all started talking and I began to listen to their story and their journey with ALS. As a nursing student we learn how to communicate with patients in difficult situations, but nothing can prepare you for knowing how to talk to a child who has lost a parent. I grew up with a sick mom and had to step up at a very young age and take on responsibilities most kids do not take until they are in college, but I have never lost a parent. The kids that I met were the most strongest and beautiful children that someone could meet. They have gone through a situation that I have not had to go through, and I let them know just how amazing they were. I know that I have impacted people’s lives, but that family had an impact on me that will stick with me forever.

 When I was crowned Miss North Dakota International in December, I had a vision of what I wanted to do. One of my visions was to help out kids whose parents are affected by ALS. There are ALS support groups across the United States for families, but to my knowledge from my research that I have done, there is nothing set up across the United States for children. The children are allowed to go to support groups with their parents, but coming from personal experience, it can be very intimidating to attend them. It is very hard for children to talk about their emotions and I along with my siblings know exactly just how hard it is. It is especially hard when you are surrounded by adults. I wish so bad, that I knew there were other children affected the same way I was when I was young, and I know my brother and sister wish so as well. As a child, you think that you are the only one. This weekend, I was able to start this particular vision. I was there for those kids, and I plan to be there for them. I want them to know that they aren’t alone and that I know what it is like to have a mom diagnosed with ALS. Although my mom is still living, and their mom sadly passed, I want to still help them in any way that I can. 

This past weekend I also joined the Fargo/Moorhead ALS Walk Committee to plan the upcoming walk in August. I am so excited, and I can’t wait to get going on fundraising and organizing the event! So many doors have opened for me, and I can’t wait for more to continue to open!

The life expectancy for an ALS patient is 2-5 years, with 20% living past 5 years, and only 10% living past 10 years.

ALS stands for Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and is also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease

Love Always,
Erica Lemna
Miss North Dakota International

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

North Dakota the 2nd healthiest state in America!

For as long as we can remember, we have always been told to be healthy. In fact, I am sure we can all think of a time growing up when our parents told us “no” to certain sweets and pushed the fruits and veggies for a healthier intake. The idea of eating healthy is something that is getting more and more difficult to do. Every time I leave the grocery store lately I ask myself why is it that the cost of healthy foods can add up so quickly, yet I can run over to McDonalds and order a McDouble off the dollar menu?! But I do know…it’s about convenience and price that makes it much easier to eat unhealthy foods.  It is important to remember that living a healthy lifestyle is much more than eating the right foods. It involves taking charge of our lives physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. 

Last Saturday Olivia, Erica and I participated in the Fargo Red River Valley Heart Walk at the Scheels arena. We were also welcomed by my mom and two sisters who were, by the way, a blast to have at our booth helping out. We had a wonderful time volunteering, taking pictures, walking in honor of those who have/had heart disease and encouraging others to make healthy lifestyle choices. I learned a great fact on Saturday. North Dakota is the second healthiest state in America! Way to go North Dakota!!! And because I am raised as a Minnesota girl, I was excited to see that Minnesota is 3rd on the list! How exciting to think about?!  I encourage you to continue empowering yourself to take charge of your health. Take small steps every day, choose the stairs instead of an elevator, consume lots of water, park your car farther from the entrance, quit smoking, go for a walk, take smaller portions when you’re out to eat….whatever it is, I want to say keep it up to the people of North Dakota and Minnesota in living a healthy lifestyle!!

Ashley Voigt
Mrs. ND International 2012

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

April...A Great Month!

WOW! That is all I have to say for the month of April. I had such a great month! On the 20th I traveled down to Fargo to have a girl’s night with Mrs. ND, Ashley, and Miss Teen ND, Olivia. We spent the night catching up on how we were doing with our crazy schedules and life in general. We have such a close bond between us, and we are each other support systems. We can all relate to the craziness in our lives and so it is really nice to talk about it. I classify them as my sisters, and wish I could see them every day. We stayed at Olivia’s house, and the next morning we had the Heart Walk in Fargo. We all got up early in the morning and headed over to the Scheels Arena. We took photos with tons of people, and we encouraged women to sign up to receive information each month on heart disease. We even took part in the walk, and it was such a great event. 

After the event was over with, I drove back to Grand Forks for my sorority’s parents formal. It is my favorite dance of the year. It is a night that we share with our parents what we have been doing throughout the year, and a night that the seniors are recognized. Even though I have one more year of school left, this is my last year in my sorority Delta Gamma. Parents also write the seniors letters of advice, and the letter that my parents wrote me was wonderful. It was full of inspirational quotes and my favorite one they included was “God has 3 ways of answering things: He’ll say ‘yes’ and give you what you want, He’ll say ‘wait’ and give you something better, or He’ll say ‘no’ and give you the best!” Faith is a HUGE part of my life and this quote really meant a lot to me. The night was full of sad and happy memories, but my favorite part of the night was seeing my family. It was the first year that my mom came! In the past, it has always just been too hard for her to try to come. She always promised me that she would come my senior year and she did! My dad, grandma, sister, and brother came as well. Although they couldn’t stay because my mom was tired, I enjoyed every minute with them. Each year at our parent’s formal there is also a father-daughter dance, and it is something that has always meant a lot to me. My dad does so much for me, and it was great to have a special moment thanking him for everything that he has done for me. 

This brings me to last week, which was full of school work. Even though my finals aren’t for a couple weeks, most of my classes are finished already. Everything was due last week and so it was a pretty crazy week for me. I only have two more exams and so I have a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. I had a great semester! Even though school is almost done, I still have a lot going on. This last Saturday on April 28th, Grand Forks had their Walk to Defeat ALS. I was a team captain and recruited people to be on my team. We raised money and attended the walk. I was very fortunate and even got to speak at the event. I shared a little about my mom’s and my story, why ALS awareness is so important, and why we need support. I had a wonderful time speaking, and I even brought some tears to people’s eyes. So many people came up to me after the walk to talk about family members in their lives that were affected by ALS. I am just so happy to be able to help out the ALS Association, raise money, and inspire people. My mom is so thankful and happy for everything that I am doing, and it is because of her that I have passion to fight this disease with her. I may not physically have ALS, but I am fighting it just as hard as my mom by raising awareness, money, and telling our stories to inspire others. I plan on attending every walk I can in ND, MN, and SD. I am heading to Bismarck this next weekend May 4th for their Walk to Defeat ALS and next week my sister and I fly out to Washington D.C. for ALS Advocacy Days! I am so excited, so be watching for my upcoming blogs in the next couple weeks to hear all about it!

May is ALS Awareness month so each time I blog this month, I am going to give a couple facts about ALS at the end of my blogs starting with:

·         Every 90 minutes someone is diagnosed with ALS and every 90 minutes another person loses their battle with Lou Gehrig's Disease.

·         ALS can strike ANYONE, and there is NO cure for ALS

Love always,
Erica Lemna
Miss ND International