Special-needs kids find results through aquatic therapy

, KTVB 10:27 p.m.
MST January 12, 2016

BOISE – Lullaby Waters is not your typical occupational therapy clinic. It focuses on the healing power of water, and children with special needs are seeing real results from this unique form of therapy.

“We call it the lullaby effect,” said Nicole Nickell, an occupational therapist. “We wanted it to embody what we were going for and that was that peaceful, easy feeling.”

Nickell is passionate about helping children with special needs, but getting her idea off the ground was a big undertaking. The first challenge came in finding a landlord that would accept the installation of a pool. Nickell found a spot in a building on Broadway Avenue.

“We had the pool installed,” she said. “It’s state of the art – an endless pool.”

Now six months after opening, the indoor aquatic therapy center is a dream come true for Nickell.

“It’s been a big venture,” she said. “But I would say that it’s already worth it.”

Her clients agree.

“I was expecting a hospital setting with a big waiting room, but when I came here it was very intimate and relaxed and just what we were looking for,” said Isabella Hale, whose baby daughter, Leona, loves getting in the water. “It’s definitely one of her favorite therapies. A time when she can smile and play in the water because she is free.”

Nickell says the serenity provided by aquatic therapy is second to none, especially for children with special needs.

“Leona has cerebral palsy and she has very high muscle tone, so we’ve been working with Leona to try to help her relax and find that peace, that calm, decrease her pain,” said Nickell.

Buhl woman competes in national Miss Amazing pageant

Maggie O’Mara, KTVB 11:15 a.m. MDT August 6, 2015

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BOISE – Brandi Hosman of Buhl has overcome so much in her young life. She has survived two horrific car accidents, two comas, and she had to relearn everything after a severe brain injury.

This past spring, she was crowned 2015 Senior Miss at the Idaho Miss Amazing pageant. It’s a pageant that celebrates girls and women with disabilities. And last week, she competed in the national pageant in Los Angeles with the other title holders from Idaho.

The path to Los Angeles has been a long one for the 29-year-old, who was severely injured in a crash back in June 2002. She was just 16 years old and was behind the wheel.

“There was a truck pulling a horse trailer behind me and hit me,” she said. “My memory goes blank after that.”

It was a parent’s worst nightmare.

“We got a phone call,” recalled Brandi’s mom, Farah Hosman. “This friend said ‘it’s actually pretty bad, you need to come quick.'”

Brandi was airlifted to a Boise hospital.

“Her coma score was so low, they gave her a five-percent chance of survival,” said Farah, who refused to give up on her daughter. “Finally, I had to get the mother bear in me to come out. I just felt like I needed to treat her like she was going to live because nobody else was.”

With a lot of therapy and her family’s love, Brandi started coming back.

“I had a very good attitude I guess,” she said. “Because I knew early on that I would regain all of what I had lost. I had a lot of help from on high as well, you know? So I am so grateful.”

Boise State opens Veterans Lounge on campus

Kim Fields, KTVB 5:47 p.m. MST March 2, 2015
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BOISE — An exciting endeavor is happening at Boise State University. It is all about veterans and the university’s commitment to the men and women who serve our country.

We all know that Boise State is known for its football program, but did you know that Boise State has been named a “Military Friendly School” by GI Jobs Magazine for six straight years. Now the university is increasing its commitment to veterans.

With an official cut of the ribbon, Boise State University’s Veteran Services Center unveiled a new, on-campus Veterans Lounge — a special place for veterans and their families.

The Veterans Services Center has already been assisting the university’s veterans with various programs like benefit claims and opportunities in the community. Now the new veterans lounge will be a place for veterans on campus to simply hang out — with game tables, TV and a kitchen area.

Boise State leaders say the new space represents the university’s dedication to growing and supporting the educational endeavors of veterans.
“We’re very happy for this moment because it means that it’s a space for our veterans to socialize, but more importantly it’s a space for our veterans to form a greater community here at Boise State,” said Dr. Christian Wuthrich, Dean of Students.

“Our goal is to make sure that you find the success you need in that next stage of life and that you share with us all your experiences all the richness that you can bring to us because you make us better by your presence,” said Dr. Lisa Harris, Vice President of Student Affairs.

R.K. Williams, Coordinator of Veteran Services, and Dr. Harris had a little fun with today’s opening by playing the first game of pool on the new pool table.

Jayden’s Journey: Nampa boy becomes MDA state ambassador

Maggie O’Mara,

KTVB 12:59 p.m. MST January 28, 2015

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NAMPA — A 7-year-old Nampa boy is overcoming a debilitating disease to take on an inspiring journey as the new MDA State Ambassador. He has some big plans to make a difference in our state.

Jayden Long was diagnosed with mitochondrial myopathy – a form of muscular dystrophy – when he was just three.

It causes him to become easily fatigued, his lungs are weak, and he’s losing some muscle function. But that’s not holding him back.

The second-grader at Centennial Elementary School has been tapped to the be the 2015 state ambassador for the Muscular Dystrophy Association in Idaho. The night he was formally announced as ambassador was a special and emotional night for his family, especially his mom.

“Jayden is a superhero in his own right,” said Shellie Long. “He’s been dealt a horrible deck of cards, and he doesn’t complain and he never asks ‘why me?'”

The MDA means a lot to them.

“When my son was first diagnosed, which is a very hard thing to deal with, they were there for the support, they were there for the education,” said Shellie.

Jayden has an incredible, but busy, year ahead of him.

“His biggest honor is he gets to speak at the state firefighters convention,” said Shellie.

Our firefighters collect donations every year for the MDA by filling the boot, and that helps pay for research and programs like the MDA summer camp for kids. Jayden wanted to give back to those firefighters.

“On Christmas Eve I got the idea of bringing little fruit trays and treats to the firefighters to say thanks,” he said.

Jayden’s mom knows her son’s struggle well. She was also diagnosed with the same form of muscular dystrophy. Tragically, her other son died at just 77 days old from pneumonia, a likely complication of mitochondrial myopathy.

“Jaxon had passed away in his sleep … to say the least it’s the hardest thing you ever go through ever,” said Shellie.

“I barely got to even know him,” said Jayden about his little brother. “He had the same disease as I do.”

You can see why this honor is so important to Jayden and his family. He plans to work hard to spread awareness and raise money for the MDA.

Medicaid payment woes plague Idaho mental health service providers

A contractor the state hired to manage payments issues checks worth pennies

By EMILIE RITTER SAUNDERS and AUDREY DUTTON

BOISE STATE PUBLIC RADIO, adutton@idahostatesman.comAugust 25, 2014

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The state’s effort to rein in Medicaid costs has created deep friction between small businesses that deliver behavioral-health services to Medicaid patients and a new contractor hired to manage them.

Service providers across Idaho have raised complaints over the last 11 months that the contractor, Optum Idaho, a unit of United Behavioral Health, has created red tape and cut services needed by at-risk patients.

Now providers in the Treasure Valley have raised another complaint: Optum isn’t paying them promptly, putting their businesses’ survival and employees’ jobs at risk.

Optum says it has fixed a glitch that resulted in tiny claims payments to the companies, which provide counseling and other behavioral health services to low-income and disabled adults and children on Medicaid.

Optum says it erroneously sent small checks totaling amounts like $.05, $.07, or $.11 starting Aug. 1 to providers who care for Medicaid patients who need behavioral-health treatment.

“(We) apologize for any inconvenience caused by this temporary error, and we invite any provider with concerns or questions to call Optum Idaho,” Optum said in a statement.

But some providers say the problem actually began last September, when Optum took over management of Idaho’s Medicaid behavioral health system.

Two of the Treasure Valley’s largest mental health care providers for Medicaid patients say these tiny payments have recurred throughout Optum’s first 11 months in Idaho.

Read more here: http://www.idahostatesman.com/2014/08/25/3340115/payment-woes-plague-mental-services.html?sp=%2F99%2F1687%2F&ihp=1#storylink=cpy

Miles for Meghan: Students buy adaptive bike for classmate

by Maggie O’Mara

KTVB.COM

Posted on May 11, 2014 at 11:16 PM

Updated Monday, May 12 at 7:10 AM

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EAGLE — Students at Eagle Middle School are going the extra mile to help out one of their classmates — they’ve raised more than $3,300 to help buy a special bicycle for her.

We first brought you Meghan Wildman’s inspirational story last June. The 13-year-old was paralyzed in a car accident last year. At the time, Meghan’s dance teacher made her dream to dance again possible, helping her to learn to dance in a wheelchair.

In addition to dancing, Meghan also loved bike riding, but hasn’t been able to since her accident. Her friends at school decided to change that.

Seventy-eight National Honors Society students organized Miles for Meghan – a rally to raise the money to buy her an adaptive hand cycle.

In the last year, Meghan has been doing a lot of physical therapy to get stronger.

“It was a really hard year, really hard,” said Meghan’s mom, Trina Holley Wagoner. “We’ve actually taken a turn toward hope.”

Hope that Meghan will walk again with the help of braces.

Her family is overwhelmed by the show of support from Eagle Middle School.

 

Susan G. Komen gives 250k for cancer screening and assistance

by Andrea Lutz

KTVB.COM

Posted on March 24, 2014 at 7:25 PM

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BOISE– There continues to be a need in Idaho to get women screened for breast cancer, and Race for the Cure is right around the corner in May.

Money raised from that event as well as others is given to Idaho hospitals and clinics for breast cancer screening and financial assistance to patients.

This year Susan G. Komen Idaho is dispersing $250,000 in grants on April 1.

Mission Manager Jody Weak said that money is used in any and every way possible.

“We are granting to various hospitals clinics other non profits that are helping people with free mammograms, diagnostics services, patient assistance,” Weak explains. “It will help people pay for things like utility bills, travel to and from treatment, things like that.”

According to Weak fundraising is down from the previous year, and that is a problem.

“Idaho is last in the nation for women getting screening mammograms,” said Weak.  “It’s something that we are not proud of. It’s a number we really want to change.”

That alarming statistic is something Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center is among those trying to change as well.

Saint Al’s will get $52,000 of the Komen grant money, and $20,000 of it will go toward funding their mobile mammography buses.

“We are putting it to our greatest need,” explains Sharma Benard with the Saint Al’s Breast Cancer Center.

There are now two pink buses in their fleet. Several times a week they travel to rural areas of Idaho and Oregon bringing preventative care to women who might not otherwise get the chance to be screened.

“We want to catch it when it’s small so early detection is the best prevention,” said Benard. “They never say stop having mammograms. As you get older, your chances increase.”

Developer brings opportunities, optimism to downtown Boise

by Justin Corr

KTVB.COM

Posted on February 9, 2014 at 6:13 PM

Updated Sunday, Feb 9 at 6:13 PM

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BOISE — The face of downtown Boise is changing quickly. There’s finally a building at 8th and Main, the convention center is expanding, and there’s talk about a new transportation hub.

The developer at the center of all that, is Gardner Company.

“Three years ago, if a genie appeared and granted me three wishes, among the top of them would’ve been, fill the hole in the ground and expand the convention center,” said Boise Mayor David Bieter. “Well, I didn’t really need a genie. What I needed was Gardner Company and Tommy Ahlquist.”

Tommy Ahlquist is Gardner’s Chief Operating Officer.

“I just think that people weren’t ready for something to come so quickly on the heels of 8th and Main,” Alquist said.

But now, Boise’s city and business leaders are ready and excited.

“In the ten years I’ve been here, there have never been more opportunities and great things cooking all at once, than there are now,” said Bieter.

While Gardner has a number of projects around the state, they also have more in the works for downtown Boise. They want to create a transportation hub, possibly under the U.S. Bank Building, which they recently purchased.

“People are like, ‘Why does it have to be underground?,'” said Alquist. “But, when you start seeing the bigger vision, where you have this underground downtown hub, that’s going to connect us across the river to Boise State and to the airport. Then, you put a convention center on top of it, and all this extra retail and office, and really transform again this downtown area to be the hub of all the activity that will build around it. Then, it makes all the sense in the world.”

Amazing Amigos: Group provides social interaction for special needs adults

by Maggie O’Mara

KTVB.COM

Posted on January 12, 2014 at 10:52 PM

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BOISE — Adults with special needs often don’t get many opportunities to get out and make new friends. But that’s all changing in the Treasure Valley, thanks to a special group called the Amazing Amigos.

“One of our parents started activities at their house,” said Clint Swaim. “We’d meet Fridays and play games.”

Swain sent KTVB an email, telling us about The Amazing Amigos – a social group for adults with special needs.

Freddie Gallas is one of the organizers of the group and hosted the gatherings until the group got too big.

“It was in our house for a while, we had a huge basement, we outgrew the basement even.”

Crossroads Community Church in Nampa then generously offered the Amigos some space to meet.

“We have adults that when they first started coming would barely talk to anyone, and now they have buddies they hang with,” said Gallas.

When the Amigos started, there were just a few people in the group, but word spread fast. Now they have more than 40 members.

“We have people who drive from Boise, we have people from Caldwell,” said Gallas. “That tells me right there, the word is getting out about us.”

They meet every Friday for lunch and activities.

“My mom decided the group is totally good for me to get out and see everybody, meet new friends,” said Amazing Amigo Meghan.

“We get out and have fun and it gives us a chance to meet people like us,” said Amazing Amigo Jared.

Camouflage Christmas will benefit veterans

Operation “Camouflage Christmas” takes place Dec. 18 at 11 a.m. when members of the Idaho Air Guard, Idaho Army Guard plus Navy and Marine Reserve units from Gowen Field convoy to the Idaho State Veterans Home – Boise, 320 Collins Road, to deliver Christmas gifts to veteran residents.

Volunteers will place nearly 500 gifts around the Christmas tree in the home’s dining room.  Men and women from all branches of service will pay visits to veterans before returning to their duties at the base or with their civilian employers.  Many of the service members will return to help the veterans open their gifts at the Christmas party on Dec. 20, starting at 2 p.m.