Simple Acts Of Community Kindness Go A Long Way For Children With Disabilities

Childhood is a magical time. There are so many new things to be discovered, experienced, and explored, each helping to sculpt and develop the mind of an innocent, fresh-out-of-the-box new human. From the simple joy of parading around on a playground to major milestones like high school prom, a child’s life is rich with opportunities for both growth and fun alike. However, many children are unable to participate in such basic activities due to physical disabilities — approximately 5.4% of kids aged five to 17 have a disability of some kind. Fortunately, there are people out there willing to put in the hard work and dedication (both financial and physical) to ensure these children still have access to the same activities and experiences as their able-bodied peers. One family in Tennessee spent three years fundraising an all-inclusive playground after losing their daughter, Mary McAuley, to complications from cerebral palsy. Rachel McAuley, Mary’s mother, worked with several other community members and were finally able to open Mary’s Magical Place this past September. “If you have a child with special needs, you just want them to have all those opportunities as much as you can, so it’s wonderful,” said Carol Sudekum whose teenage daughter Jennifer also has cerebral palsy. “This is a wonderful thing,” she remarked as Jennifer giggled in joy. “You can see it on her face.” Mary’s Magical Place provides a fun, safe place for those with both physical and learning disabilities: “No matter if they were in wheelchairs, on the autism spectrum or able-bodied, there were no barriers.” Since playgrounds last between seven to 10 years if they’re properly maintained, the location is sure to bring delight to kids for years to come. However, the U.S. sees two million new wheelchair users every year, and inclusive playgrounds don’t quite serve all of their needs. Considering the fact that being a teenager is hard enough even when you’re fully physically and mentally capable, life is much more difficult for those with any kind of limitations. Prom is the pinnacle of the teenage experience: kids get the opportunity to have fun on their own for the first time, bonding with their friends and dressing to the nines for their first foray into adulthood. Although there are more than 130,000 limo services in existence in the U.S., not many of them are equipped to handle wheelchairs or special needs. Again, this is where community involvement comes in. Tiana Freeland, a senior at a Fresno high school, realized her special needs sisters were not going to be able to experience the thrill and ultimate teenage joy of prom — so she decided...

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Drug Companies Are Complicating Patents To Monopolize Products
Oct11

Drug Companies Are Complicating Patents To Monopolize Products

A former chairman of the opioid giant Purdue Pharma has been listed as an inventor on a new patent for a treatment of opioid addiction. Some in the pharmaceutical field are now questioning if this double-dipping in the formation and treatment of opioid addiction is an overstep of patent laws. David Herzberg is an associate professor at the University of Buffalo and a historian with a focus on the opioid epidemic and prescription drugs. Born from his knowledge of the industry, Herzberg fears that the new patent for the opioid treatment will make it difficult for poor addicts to afford treatment if it keeps the prices high. The new treatment doesn’t have a name yet, but is labeled Patent No. 9861628 and is in the form of a fast-dissolving wafer that contains buprenorphine. The patent is held by Rhodes Pharmaceuticals, a subsidiary of Purdue Pharma. According to their vice president and general counsel, James P. Doyle, no money has been made from the patent as they do not have a product that has been developed or approved yet. Doyle says that the buprenorphine-based patent was developed over a decade ago and that if they do develop a product under the patent in question, they will not gain profit through commercialization. The issue of profiting is an important one, as intellectual property laws are designed to give their owners the exclusive right to profit from a work in a set period of time. As that period of time dictating exclusive rights for drug companies is usually less than 10 years once a drug goes on the marketplace, the pharmaceutical industry has taken to creating a series of protective patents around products. To extend their monopoly over a certain drug, companies will layer in secondary patents with tactics called “product-hopping” or “evergreening.” According to patent law expert Lisa Larrimore Ouellette, this patent strategy gives the pharmaceutical industry a greater financial return than seen in any other industry. A drug company can win a new patent by making small tweaks that are enough to meet the standard of being new and non-obvious. Often, these changes are as minor as making a twice-a-day pill into a once-a-day pill. According to Dr. Robert Pearl, a professor at Stanford University, allowing a pharmaceutical company a monopoly on a certain drug can hurt patients. When a person has a particular disease with a single treatment in the form of a sole-source drug, the drug company that owns that drug’s patent can keep other providers out of the market and create exorbitant prices. The patient then falls into a hole of medical debt or they suffer without the treatment they need. In...

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Study Shows That Rural Workers Get Fewer Benefits To Provide Elder Care
Oct11

Study Shows That Rural Workers Get Fewer Benefits To Provide Elder Care

According to a study on workplace benefits for elder care, rural caregivers who care for elderly family members are less likely to receive benefits than urban employees who do the same. These helpful benefits include paid leave, flex time, and the option of telecommuting. Rural caregivers often have to balance that responsibility with their duties at their job while facing other challenges unique to rural communities. Geography is often an obstacle, as a caregiver’s workplace tends to be farther from where their loved one lives. Rural populations also tend to be older and with less population density in those areas, there tends to be fewer volunteers at any given moment. These volunteers provide about 90% of all long-term care that elders receive in the United States. Across the country, approximately 44 million Americans provide unpaid care for elderly loved ones. Although nursing homes and senior care facilities can offer full-time services for the elderly, more people are choosing to age in place. Seniors want to stay in their homes and to do so they’re making aging in place-related home modifications, with 62% of builders working on these projects. While these modifications can help seniors get around the home, many still need caregivers to check on them. Rural caregivers provide an average of 16 hours of care a week that can include tasks such as scheduling doctor appointments, shopping for groceries, and refilling medication prescriptions. These caregivers do this work unpaid and often without any assistance from their workplaces. The professional caregiving industry isn’t faring much better than the volunteer. Within the coming decades, researchers have projected a shortage of several hundred thousand home care workers. People are not joining the profession because the pay tends to be low with meager protections. The work of caring for others can also be exhausting, emotionally draining, and grueling. With little monetary reward, many do not see the profession as worthwhile. Regardless of interest in the profession, many families cannot afford home care services. It currently cost upwards of $40,000 a year to have full-time help and while Medicaid coverage varies by state, Medicare doesn’t cover any of the costs. These complications then put the responsibility of care on unpaid volunteers, but without proper support from their full-time jobs, the elderly may be left on their own more...

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Bike Share Programs Struggle To Overcome Roadblocks
Oct11

Bike Share Programs Struggle To Overcome Roadblocks

Bike share programs, popular in many cities across America, are struggling to overcome roadblocks. Many companies providing the bikes have begun pulling their product from cities as a result. Bike Share Providers Grinding Gears To Stay Profitable Many cities, such as NYC, have been seeing bike share providers pulling their products off sidewalks and streets. These companies are suspending pilot programs in certain neighborhoods, as well as pulling existing bicycle options. These companies seem to have a variety of reasons for the reduction in available services, but many cite reduced ridership and seasonal issues. Additionally, companies who offer dockless bike share, services that allow riders to leave their bikes wherever is convenient, have seemed to struggle with stolen and vandalized bikes as well. Companies Roll Out New Vehicle Options In spring 2017, 66.21 million people in the United States said that they had ridden a bicycle within the last twelve months. However, in recent months, the popularity of bicycles for transportation has dipped, paving the way for e-scooters. Many companies providing bikes for bike sharing programs have attempted to also begin providing e-scooters, though several have run into trouble with local ordinances limiting where e-scooters can be ridden. For example, Seattle has banned e-scooter share programs until a permit program can be created for scooters, citing danger to pedestrians and riders alike. In other cities, scooters have overtaken bikes in popularity in a significant way. St. Louis has seen a decrease in bikes involved in their local bike share program, whereas scooter numbers continue to rise. City officials claim that this isn’t particularly a problem for them, describing the situation as a simple shift in the market away from bikes and towards scooters. As e-scooters seem to be rising in popularity nationally, the future of bike share programs remains uncertain. Particularly with the colder months of the year fast approaching, bike share companies will need to decide their next moves; will they shift operations to focusing on the more popular e-scooter, or will they double down on bicycles? The answer could decide the future of this unique style of...

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Market Outlook: U.S. Outdoor Recreation Industry Thriving
Oct11

Market Outlook: U.S. Outdoor Recreation Industry Thriving

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, a 2016 survey found that 101.6 million Americans participate in hunting, fishing, and other wildlife-related activities, which amounts to roughly 40% of the entire U.S. population. As a whole, because of its sheer popularity, the U.S. outdoor recreation industry generates an annual $887 billion in consumer spending — more than half of which directly impacts the economy in a positive manner. According to Market Watch, a new government report shows that the outdoor recreation sector accounts for a total of $412 billion in economic activity, approximately $40 billion more than previous estimates reported. The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysts released data including public feedback in order to show more accurate assessments of how the industry stands with the rest of the economy. “The outdoor recreation economy impacts many industries,” said Tom Howells, associate director for industry accounts at the BEA. “Outdoor recreation was always captured in the BEA’s GDP reports. The issue is that outdoor recreation was spread out and hidden.” The original market reports show that the outdoor recreation sector accounted for 2% of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) — approximately $373.7 billion. While in fact, the sector represents 2.2% of the GDP. Additionally, since the overall economy has grown over the last two years, the outdoor recreation economy grew faster, as well, at a rate of 1.7%. The report also stated that compensation for the industry increased at a rate of 4.3%, as well, compared to compensation for the rest of the U.S. economy, which only grew at a rate of 2.7%. “We knew for a long time that we are a large industry which is growing very fast,” added Jessica Wahl, director of government affairs at the Outdoor Industry Association. “When the government finally says so too, we know that it matters.” Specifically, the fall season is a great time for outdoor recreation facilities, organizations, and small businesses. Though many people believe that the summer and even winter are great for people who love the outdoors thanks to the endless possibilities summer has and all the snowy fun that can be had in the winter, fall is actually a more popular time for some businesses that promote outdoor recreation. According to the Idaho State Journal, fall is when hunting permits begin arriving in the mail and when people start gearing up for deer season. “This is the time of year when things start to ramp up,” said Paul Payne, owner of Ross Coin and Gun. “When school starts and the weather starts getting colder, people starting thinking about hunting supplies.” For some sporting goods shops, fall accounts for as much as 30% of the store’s...

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