Amazing Amigos: Group provides social interaction for special needs adults

by Maggie O’Mara


Posted on January 12, 2014 at 10:52 PM

“click here for full article”

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.


From one teen to another: Saving a friends’ life means speaking up

by Dee Sarton


“click here for full article”

BOISE — Like a lot of young adults, Kaitlyn Carpenter has a tattoo, “It says ‘I’m the hero of this story.’ I got it my senior year because of everything I went through.”

This BSU freshman is a survivor, and now she’s helping others survive the very real danger of depression and suicidal thoughts.

“It’s extremely terrifying not to be able to trust your own mind,” said Carpenter.

Kaitlyn has dealt with depression since she was in high school. At first, she did what a lot of teens do, reached out to friends and often in the middle of the night with a text.

“It wasn’t until I went though treatment that I realized how dangerous it was to only rely on friends for support,” Carpenter said.

Now she shares her story and her warning to adolescents in schools and churches. Her biggest concern is that teens are texting in their darkest hour — a form of communication that is superficial and doesn’t convey the possible urgency of the moment.

“I would say the number one reason these kids who receive texts don’t say anything is because they feel an obligation to text them until they go to sleep then count that as a victory if they don’t hurt themselves and they feel an obligation not to say anything about it and keep it to themselves,” said Carpenter. “It’s a game that’s so dangerous, It’s becoming deadly and that’s something I want high school kids in particular to understand.”

Teaching young drivers good habits behind the wheel

by Bonnie Shelton


“click here for full article”

MERIDIAN — It’s National Teen Driver Safety Week and Idaho State troopers are doing what they can to promote safety by reaching out to the youngest drivers on Idaho’s roads.

ISP said they’re sending a strong message to new drivers through the “5 to Drive” campaign. It stresses five rules for staying safe on the road.

1. No cell phones while driving

2. No extra passengers

3. No speeding

4. No alcohol

5. No driving or riding without a seat belt

Officers told us limiting distractions is important for any driver, but especially one just learning the rules of the road.

“Distracted driving is one of the biggest things that we deal with. Cell phones, it seems like everybody has a cell phone. Sometimes, you really think teen drivers especially they’re more worried about who’s texting them than operating the vehicle that they’re in charge of,” said ISP Trooper Kenny Walker.

In 2012, there were 62,000 licensed drivers between the age of 15 and 19 on Idaho roads, according to the Idaho Department of Transportation. That makes up about six percent of total drivers in the state.

ITD officials say young drivers are also more likely to be involved in fatal or injury related crashes.

School Lunch Programs a Casualty of Government Shutdown Mess

“click here for full article”

“We don’t have any idea what may happen if the shutdown goes further or if it affects funding for November.”

While Idaho’s congressional delegation join their House and Senate peers in debating who is to blame for the shutdown of much of the U.S. government, the repercussions of the stalemate are inching closer and closer to home.

Here’s a question: What happens to kids from low-income homes who access free or reduced/cost school lunches?

Last year, more than 5 billion lunches were served to more than 31 million students in the U.S. through Federal School Nutrition Programs. Today, funding for the programs totals more than $16 billion in cash and commodity payments to schools.

Currently in the Boise School District, 11,442 students access free or reduced cost school meals.

During the 2012-13 school year, 127,691 Idaho school children participated in free or reduced lunch programs; 10,310 in the Meridian school district, 8,992 in Nampa and 5,108 in Caldwell.

“We’ve been told that any meal that we served in September would be federally reimbursed,” Dan Hollar, spokesman for the Boise Independent School District, told Boise Weekly. “Beyond that, it’s unknown.”

And it’s nearly impossible to get any answers.

“Many Food and Nutrition Service staff will be furloughed pending reinstatement of funding by Congress,” read an Oct. 1 letter from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to school districts. “These staff will not be available by phone or email, and cannot carry out work for the agency, until funding is restored.”

A Minnesota boy’s blue and orange wish comes true

by Justin Corr


Posted on September 26, 2013 at 6:39 PM

“click here for full article”

BOISE — It was a blue-carpet welcome Thursday at the Boise Airport as a young man’s wish came true.

A crowd of cheerleaders, media, and onlookers gathered at the arrival gate. After a 45-minute delay of his flight, the man of the hour, and really, the entire weekend, arrived.

“I saw through the doors, and I’m like, OMG!” said Shane Swanson.

As the 12-year-old from Bloomington, Minnesota came through the doors, cheerleaders and total strangers cheered and applauded.

Swanson has battled spinal bifida his entire life. “He’s had over 30 surgeries, 40 hospital stays. He has a currently broken leg right now,” said Shane’s mother Wendy.

But this weekend, all Shane is thinking about is his favorite team – Boise State. “Oh my gosh, I’m excited for basically everything!”

‘Everything’ is a VIP weekend. For the third-straight year, Make-A-Wish Idaho has partnered with Boise State University to bring a young Bronco fan from out-of-state to the blue.

“He’ll have a lot of intimate time with players and coaches. He’ll get to eat lunch with the team. A lot of surprises to come,” said Brenda Vogt, director of program services with Make-A-Wish Idaho. “Saturday, game day, he’ll have a personal tailgate just for him, and VIP seats.”

State warns consumers about health insurance scams


BOISE — The Idaho Health Insurance Exchange, or Your Health Idaho, is scheduled to go live in less than three weeks.

People still have a lot of questions and scammers are taking advantage of that.

You don’t have to buy insurance from the exchange if you’re already insured or if you want to buy from somewhere else.  It’s an option.

But, it’s also apparently an opportunity for scammers.

Bill Deal, the Director of the Idaho Department of Insurance, says Idahoans are being scammed.

“These scammers are out there popping up across the state,” Deal said.

He says there is still a lot of people confused about what the upcoming state health insurance exchange named Your Health Idaho, will look like. And scammers are preying on that.

A couple of the scams they’re seeing involves a phone solicitor trying to pressure you into purchasing a limited time offer, or claiming that you could go to jail for not having health insurance.

Idaho’s governor sets a five-year goal for implementing an education task force’s proposals.

“click here for full article”

Gov. Butch Otter signaled that his top spending priority springing from a new report will be getting back the operational revenue that school districts have lost since 2008.

“We’ve got to backfill some things,” Otter told the Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday. “There were some cuts we made between ’08 and ’10 that were necessary but unfortunate.”

House Speaker Scott Bedke, R-Oakley, welcomed Otter’s suggestion. Bedke was among a group of legislative leaders who met with Otter on Tuesday to discuss the recommendations of a task force the governor empaneled in December. The panel issued its report last week.

Bedke said he will urge the Legislature’s K-12 Educational System Interim Committee to “pick up where the task force left off” and smooth the way for lawmaking in the 2014 Legislature. That committee meets Sept. 12 and Oct. 2.

Girls donate money raised from bake sale to Beaver Creek firefighters

click here for full article

by Stephanie Zepelin

HAILEY, Idaho — The Beaver Creek fire has touched the lives of just about everyone in Blaine County, whether or not they were among the evacuees.

And it seems like everyone wants to show their support for the firefighters and help out.

On Thursday, three 13-year-olds showed their support when they presented a $1,200 check to incident command.

Emily and Leah Thayer and Dakota Hutton wanted to do something to show the fire crews their appreciation.

Originally, they wanted to make cookies for the firefighters, but decided to host a bake sale instead.

Idaho gets $20.3 million grant for health exchange

to be directed to original article click here
by Associated Press


Posted on August 8, 2013 at 8:49 AM

BOISE — The state of Idaho has just received a $20.3 million federal grant to help craft its own health insurance exchange.

Idaho Health Insurance Exchange Executive Director Amy Dowd announced the grant Wednesday. The money comes from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and will be used to help create the online marketplace where individuals and small business owners can go to buy health insurance coverage.

Dowd says the federal money will help the state meet upcoming deadlines for having the exchange operational.

Idaho is one of several states creating its own insurance exchange, which is a key component to the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

The exchanges are aimed at providing a transparent way for people who don’t currently have insurance to compare and purchase policies.