In years past, a serious physical disability meant unemployment, isolation, and inactivity for many thousands of people.No longer. While the Americans with Disabilities Act has opened up the workplace and public facilities to people with disabilities, many organizations around the country have sprung up, offering access to sports programs both for wheelchair-bound individuals and amputees with artificial prosthetic devices. Disabled people are experiencing the joy of participating in Alpine and cross-country skiing, all kinds of water sports from swimming to sailing to scuba diving, and even more extreme sports such as mountain climbing and sky diving.The importance of both competitive and recreational sports for individuals with disabilities can’t be overestimated. Particularly for formerly able-bodied people who find themselves disabled, sports can serve as a tremendous motivation in the rehabilitation process and can help alleviate the depression, confusion, and loss of self-esteem that often accompanies a debilitating injury. For those born with a serious disability, sports can serve as an important way of connecting to the “abled” world.Competitive sports for the disabled are experiencing phenomenal success. The world-wide organization now known as the Paralympic Games was founded in Rome, Italy, in 1960, inspired by a 1948 competition organized in England for disabled World War II veterans. According to the Paralympic Games website, participating athletes compete in a variety of sports based on one of six disability-based classifications: amputee, cerebral palsy, spinal cord injuries, visual impairment, intellectual disability, and a general group including individual disabilities which do not fit into one of the other five categories.Both summer and winter sports competitions give disabled athletes the change to compete in a variety of sports; the list of summer sports includes 21 different competitive sports, ranging from archery and cycling to equestrian, powerlifting and judo. Five competitions designed specifically for wheelchair-bound athletes include basketball, dancing, fencing, rugby, and tennis. The list of winter sports is smaller, but no less challenging: athletes can compete in either Alpine or Nordic skiing, ice sledge hockey, and wheelchair curling.Children with physical disabilities have special challenges; they’re dealing with sometimes substantial limitations at the same time that they are meeting all the other demands of becoming competent, balanced, emotionally and mentally healthy human beings. The National Sports Center for the Disabled (NSCD) offers opportunities for children to take part in a wide range of sports activities, from skiing, ski racing, snowboarding and snowshoeing in the winter to rafting, horseback riding, and in-line skating in the summer.The Paralympics and NSCD are only two of many organizations founded to involve disabled individuals in sports. It’s evident, from the success and increasing popularity of these organizations, that both adults and children with disabilities benefit greatly from participating in adaptive sports activities, and that the benefit extends to all aspects of their lives.
Sports Provide a Welcome Outlet for the Disabled
Scholarships & Schools 101: Getting and Keeping References
You want to get into the best schools, and pay for your education, but to do both you need references. You begin applying for schools and scholarships, until you realize that you need to get 3 reference letters for each scholarship or application. What next?Finding RefereesIn order to find referees, you need to determine how many references you need. Do you need 18 reference letters? Do you need 7 online forms filled out? Do you simply need the contact information for 3 references?Once you have established how many references you will need, you can figure out how many people will meet that need. Often, to get 30 or more references, you will only need 3 or 4 people. Once your referee writes you the first letter, the hard work is done. It often doesn’t take too long to have your references tailored for each application.It is also important to establish what type of reference you need. Do you need to have all academic references from teachers and professors? Or can you have a few references from community sources? Take this into consideration when planning your references.Asking for ReferencesYou now need to ask for references. When you ask for a reference, be specific. Say, “Will you please be my reference for my application to X college? I need you to fill in an electronic application by November 12th.”Ask someone that you trust to give you a good reference, and someone that will be organized enough to complete the package properly. You don’t want your application to suffer because of another person’s mistakes.Reference PackagesYour referees are busy people. You need to make their lives easier by organizing as much of it as you can for them. You can do everything short of writing the letter itself.If you want them to do more than one reference for you, make it easy on them by giving them a sheet of paper with the references you need by when. Make sure that each one is clearly labeled with specific instructions (for instance: you might need some in duplicate and some in triplicate). If your reference is submitting the letter themselves, then give them a stamped, addressed envelope. If your reference is returning the letter to you, make sure that you pick up the envelope when you say you will. Be sure to have them sign across the seal!Your references want to write a good letter. Help them out by giving them a cheat sheet. On this sheet you should explain that you are jogging their memories. Write how long you have known them, what courses you have taken with them, and any accomplishments that you achieved with their help.Include your resume or curriculum vitae in your reference package. You want to keep everyone up-to-date on your accomplishments. You should also include any essays that you had to write for your scholarship or university application. This means that your referees will be able to make direct mention of your future plans and how well-suited you are to the program.Organizing your ReferencesYou need to keep master list of what applications are due when. You will want to have on this list who your references are for each subject. Check off each reference after you have received it or know that it has been sent.Give your references time to write the letter. You don’t want them to write a rushed letter. Give yourself time to finish the application. Letting them know early means that you can give them a deadline that is a few days before the actual deadline. This will ensure that all of your materials get where they need to be on time.Thanking your ReferencesEach person who writes you a reference should get a thank you card. This card will explain what you have chosen to do. Explain what school you are going to, what scholarships you have received, and acknowledge your referee’s part in the process. Even if you did not get what you applied for, let your reference know. For extra-helpful references, you might even consider getting a box of chocolates or flowers.Thanking your referees keeps them happy. If they are happy, then they will write you letters later when you need it. You never know when you will need another reference. And, who knows…one day you might be writing reference letters yourself!
Student Loans With Bad Credit: Some Factors to Think About
For most students, it is impossible to escape the need to secure funding to enter and complete a university education. With most students having no income and no credit history, they have to seek student loans with bad credit scores, thereby making the challenge of getting good loan terms more difficult.Students are given a bad credit rating only because there is no evidence yet to prove a good attitude towards managing finances and making loan repayments. However, the good news is that financial aid packages, especially those loans available from the US Department of Education, are available at low interest rates.Of course, there are options available when it comes to student loans, as well as factors to consider and look out for. Here is a brief rundown of some of the things applicants should be aware of.Advantages of Federal LoansThere is no doubt that federal sponsored or provided financial aid is the most popular form of funding for students. This is partly because of the ease with which students can qualify, and because when seeking student loans with bad credit, they are perfectly designed for the job. But there are some excellent advantages to get from them too.The challenge of finding loans that have low interest rates can be very difficult when turning to private lenders. But because these loans are provided through the US Department of Education, the terms are tailored to suit the particular pressures that students face. The rates, therefore, are lower than with private loans, and the repayment schedule is very flexible.The two common federal student loan programs are the Stafford and Perkins programs. They both boast low interest and flexible repayments, but the chief difference is that Stafford loans are designed for those coming straight from high school, while Perkins loans are to help students in serious financial difficulties.Alternative Loan OptionsIt is worth noting that just because the parents of students have excellent credit histories does not mean funding is not available. In fact, getting approval on student loans with bad credit are very much possible even if the parents have a much higher credit reputation. However, the borrower in this case are the parents, not the student.Known as a PLUS loan, the loan is granted through the US Department of Education student financing programs, like the Stafford and the Perkins programs, directly to the parents. This is because these programs assume that parents will provide some financial aid their children anyway. So there programs with low interest rates only cover a share of the funding, usually 50%.But PLUS loans are intended to cover the amount the parent is expected to pay when contributing to college costs, lifting the extra pressure that the family might find themselves under. So, it is not technically a student loan, but a parent loan.Qualifying for LoansMost students take out a mix of private and federal loans, though this can cause havoc when seeking student loans with bad credit. However, it is generally difficult not to get approval if all of the necessary boxes are ticked.Qualifying rests on a number of criteria, with the ability of pay the key factor. If the family of a student is financially assured, then funding may not be forthcoming. But the Stafford loan is available if at least half of the cost can be covered by parents.Low interest rates might not be enough to keep a student above water financially, which is when the Perkins loan is needed. Proving financial difficulty is necessary to secure this loan, but this can also be easily done when visiting the financial aid office on campus, and seeking student loan options.
0% Financing May Not Be the Best Deal
Nearly a decade ago, struggling auto makers began offering 0% financing deals for new car buyers.The goal of these programs were to sell cars and the auto makers hoped that 0% deals would do just that – and they were right.Car buyers (currently in the market or not) flocked into auto dealerships seeking these financing deals. And, while some qualified for them, most did not. Once the buyer was in the dealership, the hard sell began – making it nearly impossible for the consumer to leave without a new vehicle – regardless if they qualified for the 0% financing or not.Are these 0% financing deals really all that beneficial? Maybe? But, for the majority of auto buyers they really offer very little incentive – here’s why:Most 0% financing deals are for only 36 months (3 years). Which is OK if you can afford a very high payment. Example, Ford is offering a 36 month, 0% financing deal for their Focus product line. A standard Ford Focus is priced around $17,000. Financing this vehicle, assuming 5% down, puts a payment around $449 for 36 months at 0%.A high monthly payment for a low budget consumer. The only real benefit is that this vehicle buyer would pay no interest over the life of the loan (provided that the dealer or manufacturer has not built some level of financing into the price of the vehicle).However, Ford is also offering 2.9% financing for 60 months. The same vehicle (with the 5% down) at 2.9% for 60 months (5 years) sets the payment at about $290 per month.Much more affordable for consumer who seeking to purchase a vehicle of this nature (meaning that this is a lower priced car, with limited features, geared for the low income buyer – low income buyers who cannot afford $449 per month in car payments). But, $290 is much more affordable than $449 per month (a monthly cash flow difference of $159).The one problem with this financing deal is that at 2.9%, the borrower (car buyer) would have to pay interest for the 60 months loan. But, what does this interest really costs?A 17,000 vehicle, with 5% down, at 2.9% for 60 months equates too approximately $1,300 in financing (interest). If looked at over 60 months, this is about $21 per month.But, Ford is also offering, on this same vehicle up to $3,000 cash back (not applicable with the 0% financing deal). This cash back option would more than cover the cost of financing – in fact, this cash back option would essentially pay the borrower some $1,700 (in overall benefit) for financing the vehicle and not taking the 0% deal. That’s $1,700 to the buyer’s good ($3,000 cash back minus the $1,300 in financing costs equals $1,700).Interestingly enough, this auto buyer could essentially have their financing rate increase to 6.9% for the 60 months before the cash back of $3,000 losses its financial benefit.The bottom line here is that 0% financing can be a good deal provided that other options do not offer better benefits. Instead of just looking at the financing rate (where 0% is always better than anything else) one should consider all offers and choose the one that makes the most financial sense.All the above assumes that the purchaser would qualify for both the 0% financing and the 2.9%, 60 month financing options.