A place where we share inspirational stories and promote awareness – Learn how Easter Seals Wisconsin impacts you, your family, friends, neighbors, and community!
Did you know AmeriCorps connects over 70,000 Americans each year? We play a role in that too!
See how Camp Wawbeek impacted an AmeriCorps member last summer!
“Easter Seals Wisconsin Camps is so hard to describe to other people, for what we do here is not so easily put into words. All outsiders know about my summers is that I work a lot of hours and do ‘campy things’. As someone once said about camp, “From the outside looking in you can’t understand it, and from the inside looking out you can’t explain it”. That’s part of why when people ask me why I keep coming back, I don’t know what to say at first. Three years ago, when I applied to the AmeriCorps program at ESW Camps, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I had no idea how it would change my life, that it would change me. And yet, at the end of my third summer I find myself amazed at how much I’ve learned since the beginning of that first summer.
When I first got to camp I was nervous and terrified – I had never done anything like this before. I had no idea what to expect. Now, three summers later, I leave amazed and proud. The experiences I’ve had and the people I’ve met have had a huge impact on how I approach and view the world now. So many of the things I’ve seen at camp can only be experienced at ESW Camps. A great example of this was seeing one of our campers shoot a basketball standing up and using his walker for the first time in a very long time. Or something as simple as being able to provide an accessible shower for someone who is unable to get into their bathtub at home. Not everything we do seems monumental to outsiders, but the help we provide may mean everything to those that we serve. And that’s the reason I keep coming back to ESW Camps. If I have the chance to be a part of something so meaningful and the ability to make someone else’s life a little easier, even if only for a week, I’m going to take every chance I get.”
-Dani Polewko | senior at Cornell College studying art education
Did you know we play a role in farm-to-table?
See how ESW’s FARM program impacted Good Earth Farms:
Michael Hansen, who owns and operates a farm in central Wisconsin where he raises organic meats, has Degenerative Disc Disease and Spinal Stenosis. The conditions, which worsened significantly in 2006, cause severe back pain and have made many of the everyday tasks his operation requires difficult, painful or impossible to do. Doctors gave him a 25 pound lifting restriction and he cannot stand or sit in one place for any appreciable length of time or sustain jarring (as would be experienced on a tractor).“It took me a long time to admit and accept that I have a disability,” Michael says. “Everyday chores were becoming a real problem.”
Michael was determined to stay in farming if at all possible, and after hearing about the Easter Seals FARM Program through the Marshfield Farm Medicine Center, he contacted the agency to see if they could offer any advice that might make his daily chores manageable.
Jeff Kratochwill, the Lead Rural Rehabilitation Specialist for the FARM Program, contacted Michael and together they walked through a day on the farm, analyzing each task. Michael prepares and ships organic meat to customers all over the country. When full, the boxes can weigh 70 pounds, greatly exceeding Michael’s 25 pound lifting restriction. Jeff recommended using smaller boxes, bringing the weight of each into the acceptable range and installing a hydraulic lift cart along with a conveyor system that would reduce the strain on Michael’s back even further.
The tractor Michael was using presented a number of difficulties. Not only was the amount of jarring Michael experienced when operating it significant, the small operator’s station and the clutching and shifting mechanisms added to the stress on his back. To address these concerns, Jeff suggested a different tractor. The recommended model had a swiveling seat with impact-absorbing suspension, making it possible for Michael to monitor equipment being pulled without twisting his body in a way that aggravated his back. The more easily reached shifting and clutching mechanisms further reduced the strain on Michael’s back.
Jeff also suggested an automatic hitching device so that Michael could hitch and unhitch his equipment without having to climb on and off the tractor and perform the bending and lifting involved in the task. Jeff also offered advice on doing some chores in a slightly different manner and for making some smaller modifications to equipment. After the recommendations were approved by the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, modifications were made and equipment purchased.
“I’m still learning to use, make or adapt tools and technology so that I can get the work done,” says Michael. “Without the help and advice I got from the FARM Program, I wouldn’t be functioning at the level I am today. I’m very grateful to Easter Seals and the folks at DVR for helping me to stay on the farm and keeping my dream alive. ”