Monday, June 30, 2008

Win a Free Trip to the 2008 Maui Writers Conference!

Want to attend the 2008 Maui Writers Conference on someone else's dime?

Check out for details.

It's a great event, no matter who pays for it! This year, the conference is going on the road to Honolulu.
Breakthrough Parenting for Children with Special Needs: Raising the Bar of Expectations

Friday, June 27, 2008

Minute Vacations-July 2008

Judy's Minute Vacation for July 2008
Summer Sunset at the Magnificent Mackinac Bridge
Mackinaw City, Michigan

Aren't you awed by nature's amazing beauty and magic?
Breakthrough Parenting for Children with Special Needs: Raising the Bar of Expectations

I'm a Big Fan of...! July 2008

Here's my July 2008 Gush:


There's little I love as much as a great book with enough free moments to savor it from cover to cover.

Unfortunately, my current choice was so good that I finished in less than day! The Road Back to Yourself: The Second Journey by Joan Anderson is the latest in a series of her books about women facing transition, especially those in mid life and women coming of age.

Love this author, but she can't write fast enough to keep up with my demand for her insights!

Up next: I'm going to reread one of my Julia Cameron favs: Some Say that God is No Laughing Matter: An Artist's Observations and Objections on the Spiritual Path.

No matter how often I read this author, I always come away with inspiration, renewed energy and redirection.

Read On!
Breakthrough Parenting for Children with Special Needs: Raising the Bar of Expectations

DID YOU KNOW? July 2008


...that children with intellectual disabilities (formerly known as mental retardation), are bullied four times as often as other kids in school? That's inexcusable!

Talk with your child about bullying, and if it's a reality for them, take action to stop it now. If necessary, be your child's voice. All kids deserve a safe environment in which to learn and grow.

Source: A terrific new publication entitled: Picture This: Intellectual Disabilities produced by the Entertainment Industries Council, Inc.,, in partnership with Special Olympics,
Breakthrough Parenting for Children with Special Needs: Raising the Bar of Expectations

Judy Winter's FAV Quote of the Month- July 2008

"An invasion of armies can be resisted.
But not an idea whose time has come."
-Victor Hugo
Breakthrough Parenting for Children with Special Needs: Raising the Bar of Expectations

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Presenting Faces of Ability at RicStar's Camp 2008!

There are times when a picture is indeed worth a thousand words. In this case, I present you with fourteen-thousand words that help capture the magic of the 6th Annual Eric 'RicStar' Winter Music Therapy Camp held last weekend at MSU's Community Music School, including one of a tiny and very cute certified camp therapy dog. What a remarkable weekend it was! It's amazing what happens when people focus on individual abilities... For more about RicStar's Camp, visit or

Also, here's a link to a good camp article in MSU's newspaper, The State News:


...and Happy Father's Day to all those terrific dads out there!!
Breakthrough Parenting for Children with Special Needs: Raising the Bar of Expectations

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

RicStar's Camp Rocks!

For a number of reasons, I'm running way behind on my blogging efforts. I still have lots of good things to share/comment on from several recent events. But those ramblings will have to wait another week or two.

Right now, I need to talk about the pet project near and dear to my heart!

This week is all about my son's terrific camp: the 6th Annual MSU Eric 'RicStar' Winter Music Therapy Camp, of which I am co founder and co chair (copyrighted camp photos above by Eric's big sister, Jenna Winter). Part of the Community Music School, the outreach arm of the MSU College of Music, this amazing camp honors my son's terrific musical legacy, and his life, in the best way possible- by opening its doors and welcoming nearly 100 individuals of all ages with a wide range of special needs and immersing them in music.

Music meant everything to Eric, so this effort has proved a great way to honor his memory, while giving individuals with special needs a rare opportunity to experience firsthand the power of the arts and music therapy, something of which I am a huge fan (you can read my past post on music therapy on this blog). Research supports the power of music therapy to create positive changes in the lives of those with special needs.

RicStar's Camp is a fun-filled, three days of music making and movement, where the focus is on individual ability. Everyone is equal once they walk through our doors. Camp is already full again this year, but if you'd like to know more, visit my website: and click on RicStar's Camp, where you can also view the camp dvd.

Perhaps, you'll be inspired to begin a camp in your own hometown!

If you want to attend RicStar's Camp in 2009, I strongly suggest you sign up early!!! Scholarships are available to those showing need. We work very hard all year long to make sure that attending camp is possible for all. If you'd like to know more about supporting our scholarship efforts or volunteering visit:

More about this year's wonderful event after the fact...
Breakthrough Parenting for Children with Special Needs: Raising the Bar of Expectations

Michigan Go Run! 2008 calls Women to Take their Rightful Places in Office

Two weekends ago, I faced a tough decision— see the much-anticipated Sex and the City movie and discover if Carrie and Big tied the knot, or become part of the first Michigan Go Run Political Leadership Training 2008, to which I’d already been accepted. I hoped to become more politically savvy in my work as author, national speaker and advocate on special needs issues.

Many families are unaware of how policy/funding issues impact their children. Parents have little time to tackle system-wide advocacy while addressing tremendous daily demands. I have time, passion and skills to advocate for them, so I put on cute-but-comfortable shoes, passed up popcorn and Manolo Blaniks, and joined 124 other women for training.

Michigan Go Run’s! slogan is Go Run. Go Lead. Go Girl! It’s an effort of The White House Project, a non-partisan, non-profit organization based in New York City that trains, supports and empowers women of diverse means to run for office. “When you ADD WOMEN, you change everything,” the website proclaims. Accomplished founder and President, Marie Wilson, was on-site overseeing her charges. The author’s credentials include co-creator of national ‘Take Our Daughters to Work Day’.

Most attending were well informed, championing causes as diverse as our backgrounds. Several are running for office this year; others plan to join them soon. Key training included media, fundraising, and campaigns. At times, the experience was a bit like a church revival, an intoxicating blend of too little sleep, too much caffeine and high energy from a unified force serving notice. If we bottled the energy, passion, and vision of those present, I think we might fuel our cars and turn our state around.

Highlights included:

Public servants were panelists/speakers, including State Representatives Joan Bauer, Barb Byrum, and others who openly shared rewards/challenges of political life, term limits, and the working to resolve the state’s budget crisis.

The number of women of color in attendance was impressive, their vocal commitment to change, contagious.

I was deeply moved by a young college student who told of growing up in a tough Chicago’s South Side neighborhood, where she learned early that education was her ticket out. She’s now passionate about impacting change that helps ensure equal access and affordable education and heath care for inner-city youth.

Several twenty something women expressed frustration over negative perceptions of their generation, fueled in part by overtly sexualized, narcissistic media messages, including by MTV. These women want more. Audrey works for the Grand Rapids Obama campaign and plans to run for office.

Melannie, a spirited young Michiganian employed by Sotheby’s in NYC, volunteers for the Younger Women’s Task Force ( a grassroots movement that organizes young women to tackle issues. Once the job market improves, Melannie may return to Michigan and run for office.

This valuable weekend training left me with a shiney new Certificate of Accomplishment, an 'invitation' to run for office, and some great new friends from across the country. It also left me inspired, energized and refocused on my calling as a storyteller/advocate who through journalistic/speaking skills creates needed awareness, while challenging policy makers to implement needed change for social justice.

Recent times have been tough, but if Michigan Go Run! is any indication, our future is in great hands—the hands of Michigan’s remarkable, capable women.

To find out more about The White House Project, visit
Breakthrough Parenting for Children with Special Needs: Raising the Bar of Expectations

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Do You Ever Wonder Why...? June 2008


...People who complain the loudest seem to do absolutely nothing to make the world a better place?

Do you ever wonder what worldwide problems we could solve if people took all that negative energy and turned it into positive action that addresses serious issues at hand? Hmmmm...

Just rambling...
Breakthrough Parenting for Children with Special Needs: Raising the Bar of Expectations

Honoring Robert Kennedy 2008

How can it be that today marks the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Robert Kennedy, a remarkable leader who offered such promise for curing our nation's ills?

Where has that time gone? What exactly do we have to show for it?

In some ways, it's as if time stood still after that fateful day four decades ago when a single horrendous act stalled forward progress on solving the serious challenges facing our country, including those impacting human rights.

When Bobby Kennedy died at age 42, many in this country could barely go through the motions of daily living, driven to their knees by the staggering loss of so many great leaders in short order, including John Kennedy and Martin Luther King. It was a tough reality in our history from which many in this nation have since struggled to fully comprehend and recover.

Forty years of stunned silence and grieving and the resulting lack of political interest has created a country now seriously off course, one desperate for true leadership. The meteoric rise of Barack Obama and this week's historical claim to the Democratic Party's nomination, is especially timely. The inclusion of Caroline Kennedy on Obama's search team is now another boost connecting past and present, a soothing balm for deep wounds from another time that have never fully healed.

Robert Kennedy remains one of my heroes. Working tirelessly to carve his own legacy while standing in the shadow of his larger-than-life brother, John, Bobby Kennedy took on tough issues of civil rights and social injustice. He boldy acted on his outrage and fought for change in ways few ever have. Like Martin Luther King, Kennedy paid the ultimate price, a sign of a true leader, one willing to fight to the death to do what is right and just for the people he/she serves, regardless of personal cost. That kind of leadership is rare.

In today's San Jose Mercury News (Robert Kennedy: A life cut short, a lasting legacy), Jerry Abramson, former leader of Students for Kennedy says of Robert Kennedy, "He challenged our complacency. He was a good listener and never spoke down to people. He was a remarkable leader."

There is now a reawakening, an excitement in the air that hasn't been felt in far too long. Ethel Kennedy says of her husband and Obama, "they were cut from the same cloth. they reached out to people and inspired them."

Robert Kennedy will be forever missed, never forgotten.

Dare we hope for that much again?

For more information on the life/work of Robert F. Kennedy and how you can continue his vision of social justice, visit: the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial website:
Breakthrough Parenting for Children with Special Needs: Raising the Bar of Expectations