HOBBIES ARE GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH

Do you have a hobby? Hobbies can give meaning and purpose to your life in retirement. As Robert Putnam points out in his book, Bowling Alone, it’s easy to discount the importance of hobbies and social engagements. Putnam details the widespread decline in civic engagement, from PTA memberships to neighborhood potlucks and bowling leagues. Over a couple of generations, Americans have misplaced the concept of free time.

SPECIAL PLANS FOR YOUR SPECIAL PEOPLE

Lily is a beautiful, active and full of personality toddler who happens to have Down syndrome. Lily’s parents and I have been friends for years and I have the continuing pleasure of watching Lily and her siblings grow up. While Lily is becoming a physical therapy rock star and hitting all her milestones in a timely fashion, her parents have started planning for the future.

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WHY WE ENJOY OUR HOBBIES

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a hobby as “a pursuit outside one’s regular occupation, engaged in especially for relaxation.” Hobbies include anything from playing a musical instrument to gardening, bird watching or sewing. A hobby is a way of focusing on something you enjoy just for the sake of that enjoyment. It may also be a way to clear your mental palette. You could be stressed out by a situation at work or the challenges of raising children and need an escape.

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caregivers and professionals working with teens about some of the current alcohol and illegal drug trends affecting youth. Participants will learn about new technological advances that have made detection of drugs and alcohol much harder.


Relatives attending the conference span the caregiving spectrum. Although sometimes surrogate parents step in because a child’s biological parents are in jail, became mentally ill or died, the overwhelming cause is drug and alcohol abuse by the birth parents. Sometimes the only notice grandparents or other relatives get that they have another child to raise is a call from their local Department of Health and Human Services saying their daughter has delivered a baby. Routine testing reveals the mother has illegal drugs in her body. The hospital will not release the baby to her. Will the grandparents take the baby today?


Another frequent route to second-time parenting is when authorities remove a child from parents’ custody because of abuse and/or neglect. Grandparents feel they have no choice but to accept the child because the alternative is to send the child to foster care.


As in previous years, volunteer attorneys will be available for 30-minute legal consultations. The consultations are free but you must register. To request a consultation, fill out the Legal Consultation Request form on the back of the registration form and send it in with your registration. The limited number of time slots will be filled in the order received.


The GAP conference is planned and managed by a committee of volunteers. Co-chairs are Mary Jo Dendy, MSW, coordinator at the Sandersville/Meadowthorpe Family Resource Center, and Kristina Stambaugh, Director of Aging and Disability Services for the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government.


For more information about the conference or for a copy of the registration brochure, call the Extension Office at (859) 257-5582 or go to the conference website. Registration is $5 for grandparents/relative caregivers and $50 for professionals – social workers, lawyers, or others – who can earn continuing education units by attending. The fee includes a box lunch. You do not have to be a relative raising someone else’s children to attend.

When the first Grandparents as Parents (GAP) conference convened in Lexington 15 years ago, the pleasant facilities of the Fayette County Agricultural Extension office on Red Mile Place were roomy enough to accommodate the 100 or so people who attended.


Times have changed. The 2017 Bluegrass Regional Grandparents and Relatives as Parents Conference has outgrown several previous venues and continues to grow. The 15th annual GAP Conference will be held at the Clarion Hotel at 1950 Newtown Pike in Lexington on March 16. Registration begins at 8 a.m. and the last session ends at 3:30 p.m. Attendance is expected to exceed 400.


Joan Callander Dingle will bring the keynote address. “Refocus and Reconnect: Changing Childhoods, Restoring Hope, Enjoying Today” will help families parenting relatives’ children learn how to set boundaries (personal limits). Attendees will also learn how talking openly and honestly in age-appropriate conversations with children about birth parents will empower the stand-in parent and develop confidence and self-esteem in the children.


Dingle knows what she’s talking about. She is a mother, grandmother and great grandmother who adopted her grandson, Chad, now 24 years old. For more than 20 years, Dingle has been speaking to and training

ANNUAL GAP CONFERENCE CONTINUES TO GROW

 relative caregivers on both the local and national levels. She lives in Oregon and writes a monthly grand-parenting column for Portland Family Magazine. She is the author of Raising Children of Alcoholics & Drug Users and Second Time Around: Help for Grandparents Raising Their Children’s Kids.


An impressive array of workshops at the conference will cover many of the problems people raising children who are not their own face. Among the workshops is “Discipline and the Traumatized Child. ” The presentation addresses why parenting methods and strategies that are effective with birth children often do not work with children placed with relative parents after being traumatized and/or physically abused by the birth parents. Participants will learn five factors that help bring peace to their homes. The leader will be George Humlong, the Resource Parent Training Director who coordinates the Special Advocates for Education Program at the University of Kentucky. He and his wife became foster parents in 1992 and have taken care of numerous children.


Trooper Robert Purdy, an 11- year veteran of the Kentucky State Police, will lead a workshop called “Hiding in Plain Sight,” aimed at educating community leaders,

MARTHA EVANS SPARKS

Martha Evans Sparks is a Staff Writer for Living Well 60+ Magazine

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