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Bringing a Special Needs Child into Adulthood, a Father’s Story

Mackenzie Freeman

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With a big smile and average height, Eddie Giese seems like a regular middle-class dad who likes video games, fishing and loves his family. However, Eddie’s life is much different than other fathers with children. He married Stephanie, his high school sweetheart in 2006, and never anticipated the unconventional family they would build.

Soon after their marriage, Eddie was attending training classes and started the steps toward the certifications for adoption. As a newlywed, he was first reluctant since his career was taking off, but Stephanie was determined to adopt, and they did. During his classes, Eddie realized how much he also wanted to adopt a child. In 2008, they fostered and adopted Nicholas at the young age of just 18-months. Over the next couple of years, the couple had two biological children then Eddie pushed Stephanie to adopt two more children from traumatic backgrounds. This brought their family to vie children between the ages of 8 and 13.

Their child Nicholas, who is now entering the teenage world was diagnosed with Intellectually Disable Disorder with a General Mood Disorder and Sensory Processing Disorder. Doctors are unable to pinpoint whether the cause of his ailment is the result of autism or his traumatic background since the behaviors mimic one another. Regardless of the challenges Nicolas faces, Eddie supports and advocates for him while exuding patience and forgiveness.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has found that there are 437,000 children in foster care in the United States alone, on any given day. With the average age of eight, these children have been subjected to a world of trauma before even entering a foster home. Unfortunately, many children are further exposed to neglect or abuse in a system that is supposed to protect them. This statistic and common result constantly weigh on Eddie.

As Eddie has learned with his children, fatherhood is a balance between rule enforcement and love. He has been sharing an amazing bond with Nicholas by taking him fishing and doing common chores around the house. Eddie must next prepare Nicholas to become a man. According to Autism Speaks, parents must start preparing their children for adulthood around 14 years old. The first step Eddie showed Nicholas was how to use a razor.

Eddie admits that he was getting emotional during this father-son bonding moment and it was especially moving since Nicholas has an intellectual disability. Eddie attempted to go through the shaving process as slowly as possible and highlight best practices and what not to do with a razor.

Stephanie has been impressed with Eddie’s patience and drive with their entire family. She has appreciated his willingness to take equal responsibility for all daily tasks like diaper changes, cleaning the bathroom, taking out the garbage, and puke-related cleanup when the children were babies.

As Nicholas moves more into adulthood, Eddie is concerned with his ability to manage emotions and control impulses. While the lack of control is troublesome, they are confident that with positive parenting, they can overcome this challenge. They have already seen a great deal of progress within the past year which presents a great deal of hope that he can live independently in the future and have a positive impact on those around him. Nicholas has incredible musical abilities so this could be a great career path for his future.

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Shocking Moment Captured on Film as Mother and Son Leap into Gator Pit for Lost Wallet.

Mackenzie Freeman

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The city of Brainerd is nestled deep in Crow Wing County, Minnesota. Established in 1870, Brainerd is known as one of the largest cities in all of Northern Minnesota. Today’s story isn’t so much about the city of Brainerd as it is about two of the people within it. Recently, a mother and her young son made headlines around the country when they were captured on film leaping into the alligator pit at Safari North Wildlife Park in Brainerd, MN. What happened next was as harrowing as it was inexplicable. 

Safari North Wildlife Park is one of the most popular outdoor wildlife parks in the Midwest. This stunning park features family-friendly attractions, gorgeous animals, and wonderful sprawling enclosures.  From Snow Leopards and River Otters to the Vervet Monkey, there is always a spectacular animal to see. For the stars of our story, one animal stuck out in particular, the alligator.

When the viral video begins, we see a woman as well as her son standing outside of the alligator enclosure at the Safari North Wildlife Park. The massive pit is enclosed by a fence with only a pit of water in the center of the exhibit. Why were these two visitors in the wildly dangerous alligator pit? Well, that’s a story that seems almost impossible to understand. According to the mother, her wallet had dropped into the water of the enclosure. Rather than requesting assistance from a park employee, the mother jumped into the enclosure to fetch the wallet herself!

The fact that the mother leaped into the alligator pit was concerning in and of itself, especially for a wallet! To make matters even more dramatic and demonstrably worse, her young son quickly followed her! The young boy seemed determined to copy his mother to the horror of various onlookers. One concerned citizen yelled out to the family from a viewing balcony, “Don’t do that, you will get eaten!” 

The tension seemed to last forever as the mother and her son poked around the exhibit while looking for the lost wallet. To add to the tension of the moment, the mother was filmed throwing rocks at the alligators. At one point, the mother even used a stick to distract the gators to further her search for her lost alligator. While the film quickly went viral, this was completely unexpected according to the Safari North Wildlife Park. According to the staff at the facility, the video was the first time they were made aware of the incident.

If you think alligators aren’t dangerous, think again. Alligators are considered apex predators and they have been living on earth for millions of years. Considered ‘living fossils’, alligators are deceptively fast, enormously strong, and they grow their entire lives. In fact, the largest alligator of all time was found in Florida at the Everglades National Park. The alligator was measured in at 16 feet and five inches in length. We are all truly lucky that nobody was hurt during this video!

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Pregnant Women are Concerned With New York Hospital’s Banning Birth Partners

Mackenzie Freeman

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It is an unnerving time for everyone, especially pregnant couples. With the healthcare system being overwhelmed due to the Coronavirus, many couples are wondering how their birthing plans will be impacted. One New York healthcare network has decided to ban birth partners from the delivery room. This has become a controversial topic that is worrisome to women across the country that their hospital could also adopt this policy.

New York-Presbyterian recently announced that it is banning visitors including birth partners. This means countless women will experience the labor and delivery process without the support of their loved ones.

This also means fathers will not be able to see their newborns until the babies are released from the hospital. There are temporary exceptions to the rule for the imminent end of life and specific patient’s needs. This is not comforting to most mothers who will be bringing their child into the world under these stressful and strained conditions.

New York-Presbyterian is taking a significant step in protecting expecting pregnant couples due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Unfortunately, this move is not calming the fears of women. The policy is certainly jarring considering the World Health Organization determined that the role of birth partners is crucial.

Birthing partners provide informational support during childbirth and liaise gaps between women and clinical staff. Companions also provide practical support, like encouraging women to be mobile during labor, provide non-pharmacological pain relief like meditation and massage, and offer emotional support.

Companions are advocates for women, addressing her and her preferences. Labor companions can help women build their confidence through praise, reassurance, and having a supportive presence while allowing them to feel in control.

Chief of Obstetrics at Columbia University, Dena Goffman, MD, notes that New York-Presbyterian’s decision was difficult, well-considered, and not taken lightly. They decided to ensure all potential visitors, including partners, remain safe. The hospital group also decided to test all incoming pregnant women for COVID-19, regardless of their symptoms.

This decision came after doctors noticed numerous women without symptoms or atypical symptoms later testing positive for the virus. Unfortunately, many labor symptoms mimic some COVID-19 symptoms, so these women were not identified by the usual screening method, testing processes, and infection prevention and control. Therefore, the virus protection practices were never implemented thus exposing staff members.

By implementing this new policy of testing women in labor, doctors can isolate newborns who may have been exposed. This is a significant preventative measure to stop an outbreak within non-infected baby nurseries. With such a huge number of cases in New York, this is an important step.

Dr. Goffman further noted that the hospital network is investigating other options for allowing birth partners and loved ones to be included in this special moment. The most promising idea is using technology. The hospital recognizes the need for additional family support for moms and mom and baby pairs when at the hospital.

While the WHO’s position on child partners has remained the same, they believe all pregnant women, including those with confirmed viral infection, are entitled to high-quality care throughout the entire pregnancy.  

The new COVID-19 world is unknown, unpredictable, and scary with situations evolving by the minute. However, planning and flexibility allow women to have a normal birthing experience. Also, consult your medical team with any concerns or questions you may have about the pregnancy or COVID-19. Hopefully, technology will be able to play a bigger role for family and friends in the future so the mother and birthing partner can continue to have and provide support before, during, and after the pregnancy.

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A Millennial tries 5 Gen-Z Fads to figure out what it’s like to be a kid today

Lea Lomas

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Each generation of kids has its characteristics. There are some similarities but there are also some differences. For example, the last few generations of kids have been fans of video games, but the platform and type of video games might have changed. The millennial generation is people born between 1981 and 1996. The latest generation were the kids that came after that. It is called Gen-Z and it includes people born between 1997 and the current year.

The millennial generations were heavily influenced by television. Not only they did watch movies and cartoons on television but the video games of those times were also played on television. Even though television was important to the millennial kids, it did not seem as new technology seems to be for Gen-Z kids. To understand the psyche of what Gen-Z, a 28-year-old millennial tried 5 Fads of the current generation to see what it is like to be a kid in today’s world and see if there were any equivalent of these fads for millennial kids.

Minecraft

The Minecraft game has been a revolution in recent years. The game feels dizzy to play with all the moving camera angles. The game seemed to more complex than expected. There was also a lot of roaming around for no purpose at all. Millennial kids were used to games with a bit more purpose behind them. After one gets used to the game, there are some similarities in gameplay to The Sims. It is an open-ended world, where anything can happen. However, the camera angles were too much handle and the game had to be quit.

Unboxing Videos

There has been a growing trend of Gen-Z wanting to see videos of new toys being opened. For Millennial kids, there wasn’t any equivalent to anything for this. It was very disturbing to see others open their gifts that you didn’t have. The closest equivalent to this was Nickelodeon’s Toy Run, a show that had kids run and grab as many toys in a toy store they can before time ran out. Ryan’s world is a YouTube channel that has made millions of dollars in unboxing and toy review videos. Surely, with that sort of money, there is something in this fad that appeals to Gen-Z.

Fortnite

Another gaming sensation is Fortnite. It is essentially a survival game with a race. Sounded interesting, but it just didn’t appeal to the 28-year-old millennial as it has for millions of kids in today’s world. The game was just too boring. There just isn’t enough fun or adventure to keep playing this for hours. It is hard to see how this got to be one of the most played games of this generation.

VSCO

VSCO is a phone editing software. It was an early Instagram filter app so millennials should be more comfortable with this fad. Millennials are reasonably comfortable with technology, however, Gen-Z has skills of their own. For example, how the perfect selfie is a skill that has been mastered by Gen-Z. In any case, this trend is understandable for a millennial.

TikTok

TikTok, a Chinese video-sharing app has been a very popular social media platform. There was a similar application called Vine. Tiktok has been called as Vine 2.0. So a millennial can understand why TikTok has got so popular. Overall, TikTok was fun to use but there might some issues related to privacy that might be difficult to digest.

Going through these 5 fads have shown that each generation is going to have their own choice of fun activities. One generation cannot judge another generation on stuff they like or don’t like. That is why is it called a generation gap.

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