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Registration Is Open For Aaron's Acres Camp January 12, 2018

This summer, the Manheim Community Pool and Memorial Park, 504 E. Adele Ave., Manheim, will welcome participants from the Aaron's Acres summer camp program for the fourth year in a row.

Registration is open for 2018 Aaron's Acres summer camp sessions, which will run on weekdays. The camp has programs for children, adolescents, and adults ages 5 to 21 who are developmentally disabled.

The first session will run from Monday, June 18, to Friday, June 29, and session two will be held on Monday, July 9, to Friday, July 20, both with options of half-day hours from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and full-day hours of 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. A third session scheduled for Monday, July 23, to Friday, Aug. 3, will offer half-day hours only and is geared toward children ages 5 to 12.

Interested individuals may register at www.aaronsacres.org by Saturday, March 31. Scholarships are available.

Aaron's Acres executive director Risa Paskoff explained that having professional staff, including special education teachers and a nurse, as well as a 1-to-1 or 1-to-2 staff-to-child ratio, enables Aaron's Acres to accept any child, regardless of medical or behavioral challenges.

Activities will vary and will include swimming, games, music and animal therapy sessions, therapeutic horseback riding, arts and craft projects, and sports. Campers ages 13 to 21 will also have the chance to take part in community service projects through the Aaron's Acres Acts of Kindness Program (AAAOK).

Applications are also available at www.aaronsacres.org for individuals age 18 and up who are interested in being camp counselors and for high school students age 14 and up who would like to volunteer as buddies at camp. Buddies act as positive role models for campers under the supervision of the group leader.

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Team River Runner Makes Kayaking Possible For All January 12, 2018

In 2014, when John Butler was turning 14, his father, Bill Butler, looked for an activity they could do together. Bill had coached John in Upward basketball, but the youth had aged out of the program. While it might have seemed natural for the father-son duo to join a rec basketball league, they had one important consideration: Bill is a disabled veteran with mobility challenges. An athletic activity involving running and jumping was out.

Kayaking seemed like a possibility, however, so Bill launched his computer's search engine. He discovered the Southeast Pennsylvania chapter of Team River Runner (TRR), and he also discovered more than just kayaking. TRR is a nationwide nonprofit organization with more than 50 chapters. Through kayaking and canoeing, the organization offers health and healing for disabled veterans, nondisabled veterans and active-duty military personnel, disabled members of the community, and nonveteran volunteers.

Bill and John participated in the Southeast Pennsylvania chapter for a year, during which Bill was trained as an instructor certified by the American Canoe Association. He was then tapped by the organization's executive director to start a chapter, and the Susquehanna Valley chapter was born. Bill recruited his friend and fellow Army veteran Roy Hargrove to serve as the chapter's secretary.

"We offer camaraderie with people who have 'been there,' and we see the kids having fun together," said Sue Schaffer, outreach coordinator for the Susquehanna Valley chapter of TRR.

In the chapter's two years, participation has reached 165 people, a portion of whom are blind or have vision impairments. Jennifer Eaton, who works with young clients at VisionCorps and has low vision herself, contacted Bill in hopes that he would lead a kayak trip on the Conestoga River for Camp Cool, VisionCorps' summer camp. Instead, Bill taught the campers how to kayak, and Eaton became an avid paddler.

"I got hooked," Eaton said. "I've got the whole gear, and I'm a Level II instructor." Eaton created the Kids Are OuttaSight! (KAOS!) program, which has been implemented in TRR chapters across the country, and she now serves as the national director for the program.

TRR specializes in adapting equipment and procedures according to participants' abilities. That might involve securing a palsied hand to a paddle mounted on a pivot or using a kayak with a transfer board. It also takes the form of sighted guides providing verbal cues to paddlers so they can navigate safely downstream.

"Water is a great equalizer," Bill explained, noting that with the right equipment and proper training, practically anyone can enjoy kayaking or canoeing.

"We are a judgment-free zone from the disability perspective," Eaton said. "We're equals."

There is plenty of ribbing about military branches, however, and that just adds to the fun, Hargrove commented. TRR grew out of a physical therapy program at Walter Reed Military Hospital, and its primary participants are disabled veterans. TRR continues as a nontraditional recreational therapy program.

"We see vets for whom this world makes no sense to them, so we do a river run like we're doing a mission," Bill said. "I have done more than one PTSD counseling session downstream of the rapids."

The Susquehanna Valley chapter hosts training sessions in Millersville University's Pucillo Gymnasium during the fall and winter, and it hosts outdoor paddling at York County's Lake Williams and on other area waterways in the summer and when the weather otherwise permits. There is no charge to participate, as the organization operates through grants from the Department of Veterans Affairs and private contributions. Information about participation and making donations may be found at https://svtrr.org, and folks may contact Bill at 717-951-8948 or Bill.Butler@TeamRiverRunner.org for more information.

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Church Plans Cancer Support Group January 12, 2018

Hempfield United Methodist Church (HUMC), 3050 Marietta Ave., Lancaster, is offering "Living With Cancer," a new lunchtime support group that meets every other Tuesday from noon to 1:15 p.m. in Room 170. The group will continue to meet through May 8.

Participants may bring a bagged lunch and join cancer coach and counselor Brenda Coffin for this winter-spring support group. She serves as HUMC's minister of spiritual care and counseling and is also a cancer survivor.

The informal gatherings, which are educational, spiritual, and supportive in nature, will cover the mind, body, spiritual, and emotional aspects of facing and living with cancer. Personal testimonies from cancer survivors and group discussions are woven into the program. The public may to attend any or all sessions, which are geared toward those currently undergoing cancer treatment, those who serve in a supportive role as a cancer caregiver and friend, or those who are cancer survivors.

Future dates and topics will include Jan. 30, Preparing for Battle: Emotionally, Mentally, Socially, Relationaly; Feb. 13, Build A Healing Community / Caring Bridge; Feb. 27, Power of Prayer; March 13, Attitude Schmatitude: Mentally Fighting the Good Fight; March 27, Nutrition and Physical Exercise, with a guest speaker, recipes, and a food demonstration; April 10, Embracing Emotions; April 24, Visualization: "Peace Like A River" / Mindfulness; and May 8, Relationships: Toxic and Healthy.

For more information, readers may contact Coffin at 717-285-5156 or bcoffin@hempfieldumc.org.

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Epilepsy Support Group To Meet January 11, 2018

The Epilepsy Foundation Eastern Pennsylvania (EFEPA) has announced that a support group meeting will take place at Park City Center in the Community Meeting Room located in the Kohl's wing on Tuesday, Jan. 23, from 6 to 8 p.m.

The January meeting will kick off the two-part series "RNS or VNS - Which Epilepsy Treatment May Be for You?" A speaker from NeuroPace will discuss the RNS treatment for epilepsy and answer questions from attendees. On Tuesday, Feb. 27, a representative from LivaNova will discuss VNS treatment for epilepsy.

Meetings, which are held on the fourth Tuesday of each month, are free and open to the public. Registration is recommended for proper planning. For more information or to register, readers may contact Kerri Michnya at 717-449-1872 or kmichnya@efepa.org.

The EFEPA is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) health organization that is fighting to end epilepsy and overcome challenges created by seizures by focusing on education, support, and advocacy. The organization offers a range of free services and programs to improve the quality of life and empower those who are affected by epilepsy and their families in 18 Pennsylvania counties.

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Freezin' For A Reason! January 10, 2018

Polar Plunge Set For Feb. 3

Dover residents Bill and Karen Plappert can remember when two former Special Olympic coaches came up with the idea for a Polar Plunge in York County as a way to raise money for the Special Olympics York County (SOYC). "Our son, Michael, volunteered to do the plunge and help his fellow athletes by raising money," said Karen, who opted to volunteer with team registration with Bill. Folks of all ages came to the inaugural event to experience the thrill of plunging into the Susquehanna River in February.

The plunge turned out to be a big hit, Karen said, and it continues to grow. According to Karen, the event now provides a major portion of the amount needed to fund SOYC's annual budget. Michael's team, The Beach Boys and Friends, is composed of several of his fellow athletes, relatives, Special Olympics volunteers, and the pastor and members of Dover United Church of Christ, where the Plapperts attend.

Last year, The Beach Boys and Friends team raised nearly $11,000. Only the Blue Line Plungers - a group of current and retired law enforcement officers and their family members from throughout the county - edged out The Beach Boys with their financial contributions.

SOYC public relations coordinator Robyn Liggins-Smith - also a proud mom of a SOYC athlete - said that the Blue Line Plungers are always the first team in the river at the Polar Plunge and have supported the event since it began. "My son (and the) other athletes enjoy the plunge and all the activities that happen before the plunge," said Liggins-Smith. "Special Olympics has become a second family for many of us, and the Polar Plunge brings us all together."

The 10th annual York County Polar Plunge will take place on Saturday, Feb. 3, along the Susquehanna River at 124 N. Front St., Wrightsville. Registration and sign-in will open at 9:30 a.m., followed by opening ceremonies at 10 a.m. and a costume parade and contest at 10:45 a.m. Awards will be given for the best costume and most original costume. "Basically, they can wear whatever they want," said Liggins-Smith. "One year, we even had (someone wearing) a six-foot walrus (costume).

The chicken dance, set for 11:15 a.m., will be performed by all of the chicken plungers in attendance. "A chicken plunger is someone who supports the plunge but does not go into the water," explained Liggins-Smith.

Plungers will begin assembling in waves around 11:45 a.m., and the plunge will start at noon. SOYC athletes will lead each wave of participants to the river. Plungers may dip in just a toe or go all in for a total of three minutes. "When they come out (of the water), the smiles on their faces tell you why they do it," said Liggins-Smith.

The 2017 Polar Plunge, which raised a total of $91,000, had about 900 plungers and 500 chicken plungers. "The temperatures were a very warm 35 degrees," recalled Liggins-Smith. With temperatures reaching especially frigid lows this January, Liggins-Smith said that the Lake Clarke River Rescue team, which is stationed in the river at each Polar Plunge to ensure everyone's safety, will make the determination as to a potential cancellation. "If the river is frozen, we may have to postpone, but in the nine years we have had the plunge it has never been canceled," noted Liggins-Smith.

Heated tents will be set up for participants to change into dry clothes afterward. Coffee, hot chocolate, and water will also be available.

Folks may register to participate as an individual or a team at www.specialolympicsyorkcounty.org. A preregistration event will take place from 1 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 28, at 124 N. Front St., Wrightsville. Interested individuals may sign up then or turn in the money they have raised and pick up T-shirts, which are distributed to those who raise $25 or more.

SOYC, which provides training and competition opportunities free of charge to children and adults with intellectual disabilities, currently has 360 athletes participating in 15 sports programs.

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Widows Group To Offer Zumba January 4, 2018

Widow to Widow - Lancaster will meet on Saturday, Jan. 13, at 10 a.m. in the Heritage Room at Worship Center, 2384 New Holland Pike, Lancaster, for Zumba Gold with Chrissy. Zumba Gold is the edition of Zumba for seniors, who may choose a level of activity.

There is no charge, but an offering will be received. All widows are welcome. For more information, readers may contact Elaine Severein 717-468-5239.

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Memory Loss Support Group To Meet January 4, 2018

The Memory Loss Support Group for caregivers of persons with memory loss and other forms of dementia will meet on Tuesday, Jan. 30. The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. in the Warwick Room of The Heritage at Landis Homes, 1001 E. Oregon Road, Lititz.

Participants will view and discuss the film "A Thousand Tomorrows: Intimacy, Sexuality and Alzheimer's." Created by Terra Nova Films, the video will examine sensitive issues through candid interviews of caregivers and persons who have dementia. Landis Homes team members will facilitate discussion following the film.

The public is invited. The group is operating in partnership with the Alzheimer's Association - Greater Pennsylvania Chapter. For more information, readers may call 717-581-3939.

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Grove UMC To Offer GriefShare January 3, 2018

Grove United Methodust Church (UMC), 490 W. Boot Road, West Chester, will offer GriefShare, an educational support group for people age 18 and up who have lost a loved one due to death on Wednesdays, Jan. 17 to May 16, from 7 to 9 p.m. There will be no sessions on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 14, and on March 28 during Holy Week.

The program aims to provide encouragement and practical help. Topics for discussion include Is This Normal?, Challenges of Grief, Grief and Your Relationships and Guilt and Anger, among others.

Free child care will be provided. Registration is requested, and there is a fee to cover the book and materials. Scholarships are available. Readers may contact the church office at 610-696-2663 or email pastor Lin George at pastor.lin.george@gmail.com to register.

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Support Group To Meet December 28, 2017

The Memory Loss Support Group will meet on Monday, Jan. 8, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the third-floor conference room at Lancaster General Health Suburban Outpatient Pavilion, formerly the Health Campus, located on Harrisburg Pike in Lancaster. Lori Dearolf will share on "Dementia Simulation: Put Yourself in Their Shoes."

The Memory Loss Support Group meets on the second Monday of each month from 7 to 8:30 p.m. For information, readers may call Shelby Swartley at 717-544-3539.

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Support Group Meeting Posted December 27, 2017

The Epilepsy Foundation Lancaster County Support Group will meet in the Community Room at Park City Mall, Kohl's Wing, 142 Park City Center, Lancaster, on Tuesday, Jan. 23. The group will meet from 6 to 8 p.m.

Reservations are requested, by not required. For a complete list of support group dates, readers may visit www.efepa.org/support. For more information about this support group, readers may contact Kerri Michnya at kmichnya@efepa.org or 717-449-1872.

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Cancer Support Group To Meet December 27, 2017

WellSpan will host a cancer support group for people living with cancer and their caregivers. The next meeting will take place at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 16, at the WellSpan Ephrata Cancer Center, 460 N. Reading Road, Ephrata.

An oncology social worker leads the group, which shares information, offers support, and provides resources and strategies for living with cancer. For more information, readers may call 717-721-4835.

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Weight Loss Programs Set December 27, 2017

WellSpan Ephrata Community Hospital will offer a weight management program and a support group. All sessions are free and will be held at WellSpan Cocalico Health Center, 63 W. Church St., Stevens. To register or for more information, readers may call 717-721-8795.

Medical Management of Weight Loss will be held from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 4. It will provide an overview of an intensive, individualized weight management program where individuals work with a doctor and dietitian to help them achieve weight loss goals and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

The Bariatric Surgery Support Group will meet at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 11. The group is open to both pre-surgery and post-surgery patients.

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Reboot Combat Recovery Class Slated December 26, 2017

The James A. Danner VFW Post 537 in Etters will host a 12-week Reboot Combat Recovery course from 6 to 8 p.m. on Thursdays beginning Feb. 1 at VFW Post 537, 1095 Pines Road, Goldsboro. The course is free to combat veterans and spouses or significant others, and free child care and dinner will be provided.

The course was created to aid service members and their families as they work through their post-traumatic stress, whether from a recent conflict or one from the past. It aims to provide practical help in dealing with the aftereffects of combat while focusing on healing the spiritual and moral wounds of war.

Reboot offers a blend of clinical insight and faith-based support in the form of weekly classes that include topic-based instruction, class discussions, homework, group exercises, and a family-style meal. Reboot is led by volunteers and provides practical solutions for healing moral injuries.

VFW Post 537 held its first series of Reboot classes in 2017.

To register, readers may visit www.rebootrecovery.com. For more information, individuals may contact Charlie Yost at yost.ch@gmail.com or 724-630-4956.

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Bereavement Group To Meet December 26, 2017

The Masonic Village invites anyone who has lost a loved one to attend its monthly Bereavement Support Group on Thursday, Jan. 18. The group will meet from 10 to 11:30 a.m. in the large recreation room in Sycamore North, located on the first floor.

Refreshments will be served, and there is no cost to attend. For details, call Heidi Young at 717-367-1121, ext. 33576.

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Memory Loss Support Group To Meet December 14, 2017

The Memory Loss Support Group for Caregivers will meet on Tuesday, Jan. 2, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. in the Community Room at Mount Joy Mennonite Church, 320 Musser Road, Mount Joy.

The topic will be "What Is Frontal Temporal Memory Loss?"

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Gigi's Holds Holiday Event December 12, 2017

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Cancer Support Group To Meet December 12, 2017

The WellSpan Cancer Support Group will meet from 3 to 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 19, at the WellSpan Ephrata Cancer Center, 460 N. Reading Road, Ephrata. The public is invited to attend.

For more information, readers may call 717-721-4835.

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Support Group Plans Meeting December 1, 2017

Geisinger Holy Spirit Hospital, 503 N. 21st St., Camp Hill, will host an Atrial Fibrillation Support Group meeting on Thursday, Dec. 14, from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Geisinger Holy Spirit Atrial Fibrillation Center staff will discuss atrial fibrillation, how to stay on track with treatment, and therapies that can reduce symptoms and the risk of heart failure and stroke. A member of Geisinger Holy Spirit Behavioral Health Services's staff will teach coping strategies that can help improve quality of life.

The support group meeting will be held in the hospital's Auditorium C and D. Light refreshments will be provided.

Seating is limited, and readers are asked to call 717-724-6306 to reserve a seat.

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Support Groups Posted November 24, 2017

The Masonic Village, 1 Masonic Drive, Elizabethtown, will offer two support groups.

The Dementia Caregiver Support and Education Group will meet on Tuesday, Dec. 19. This meeting will include a potluck lunch. The group will meet from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. in the Masonic Village's Health Care Center Courtyard Conference Room. There is no cost to attend. Anyone who serves as a caregiver to a loved one is invited to attend. For directions and to register, readers may call 717-367-1121, ext. 33764.

Anyone who has lost a loved one is invited to attend the monthly Bereavement Support Group on Thursday, Dec. 21. The Bereavement Support Group will meet from 10 to 11:30 a.m. in the large recreation room in Sycamore North, located on the first floor. Refreshments will be available, and there is no cost to attend. For more information, contact Heidi Young at 717-367-1121, ext. 33576.

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Bringing Awareness And Connection November 16, 2017

Working out of their new two-room office at 15 W. Main St., Mount Joy, the organizers behind the Donegal Substance Abuse Alliance (DSAA) have big plans for 2018 and beyond.

The grassroots organization formed two years ago to help combat the heroin and opiate epidemic. The tragic catalyst for the group was the 2014 death of Anthony Perez, the 23-year-old son of founder Stacy Emminger, from a heroin overdose.

Her son, Emminger said, was an addict for 10 years. At the start of that ordeal, "I didn't know that there was any kind of support," the Mount Joy resident recalled. People were not talking about addiction, and she and Anthony's stepfather were embarrassed, hiding it from immediate family for several years.

After Anthony's death, Emminger, along with others experiencing similar situations, decided there should be more support for Mount Joy-area families dealing with the disease of addiction.

DSAA's original purpose was to "bring awareness to the town," said Emminger, who is chairman of DSAA's four-member board.

"There are tons of people that still don't believe we have a problem here," Emminger stated.

DSAA has evolved to also providing education and support to affected families and those in recovery from addiction. That includes help finding inpatient and outpatient treatment.

DSAA, a member of the Lancaster County Recovery Alliance, participates in community educational events, like health fairs and drug awareness programs. Emminger and her now ex-husband, Stephen Mercado, along with other board members, have spoken - and will continue speaking - to community groups.

DSAA also hosts a support group for family members and friends of addicts, including those who have lost someone to addiction. The group now meets on the fourth Thursday of the month from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the DSAA office.

The office, which opened in September, is stocked with flyers and pamphlets, including those educating parents on drug use warning signs and ones addressing teenagers. Area treatment centers and other organizations are also represented. Some materials are available in Spanish. Office hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Mondays and Fridays and noon to 8 p.m. on Wednesdays.

An added bonus is the personal contact with DSAA volunteers.

"A face-to-face connection in this particular situation is really important because you need to feel understood and it brings you some comfort that you're not alone in this," Emminger said.

Going forward, Emminger wants to offer training to anyone interested on the use of naloxone, a medication that can revive someone suffering an overdose. DSAA offered a training session last year done by Lancaster General Health. Depending on funding, Emminger also wants to have the product available to give out.

Emminger also wants the DSAA office to be used as a satellite location by treatment providers to do assessments and counseling. It could also be a place for certified recovery specialists (peers who also have been treated for addiction) to mentor those in recovery.

"You can recover, and you can go on to have a productive life," said Emminger.

Other plans call for DSAA to offer educational programs, including life skills classes to recovering addicts and self-care opportunities for family members. Emminger also wants to organize a ride program where volunteers would drive people to treatment appointments. She would also like to bring a prevention program done by Compass Mark to the Donegal School District.

Currently, she and Alexis Havener, the office manager and board secretary, are working on compiling what they believe would be the first comprehensive list of treatment facilities throughout the state.

In addition, DSAA will host a First Responders Open House at its office on Thursday, Dec. 7, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Refreshments will be served.

To do all this, DSAA, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, will seek monetary donations from individuals and corporations, do fundraising and seek grants. For more information on DSAA, including information on making a donation, readers may visit www.dsasquared.org or its Facebook page or call 717-492-4596.

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