Oxygen In. Pain & Surgery Out.

Oxygen In. Pain & Surgery Out.

As a high school senior, Val was in a car accident during the winter of 1992. Because she had no visible injuries at the scene, she refused going to the hospital. Unfortunately, the effects of the accident caught up with her quickly and kept her out of school for an entire week as she was unable to sit for long periods of time without severe back and neck pain. Thinking she was just sore, Val never went to see a doctor to get checked out and diagnosed for any possible complications caused by the accident.

After graduating college, Val spent 15 years working as a cosmetologist. Spending long hours on her feet day after day led to severe back pain once again. In 2012, after a busier than usual Christmas season at the salon, Val’s back pain became so intense that she could barely walk for two days. She could shuffle her feet, but couldn’t take steps without excruciating pain in her lower back.

At this point, Val went to see a chiropractor in hopes of determining what could be causing such intense pain. X-rays and tests performed by the chiropractor showed that Val had a host of problems with her back. She had several bone spurs in her lower back, middle back and neck. She also had a severe curve in her neck which suggested that at some point in her life, she had, in fact, experienced whiplash. The biggest problem was that Val had a tremendous amount of inflammation in her lower back as well as a spinal disk that was beginning to degenerate.

The spinal discs in the body act as a strong elastic pivot for each joint segment of the spine, providing stability and allowing a relatively wide range of motion in all directions in the lower back and neck. When a disc begins to degenerate, and lose its strength and pliability, it can cause a range of painful and potentially debilitating symptoms like Val was experiencing.

With the chiropractor’s x-rays and diagnosis in hand, Val went to see her primary care physician to get her opinion.  She agreed with the chiropractor’s diagnosis. Both the chiropractor and physician told Val that if she didn’t make some changes in her life, she would be looking at back surgery sooner than later in life. Wanting to avoid back surgery if at all possible, Val decided to do anything she could to avoid it. She started by cutting back her hours at the salon and then began looking into the possibility of finding a different job where she wouldn’t be on her feet as much.

After several appointments with her chiropractor she asked if he had ever heard of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy.  He told her that he had heard of it but admitted that he didn’t know much about it. Val explained to him the many benefits of HBOT treatments, including its ability to reduce inflammation and swelling. He said that from what he knew about it, it couldn’t hurt and encouraged her to go ahead and give it a try.

Val made the decision to begin daily HBOT treatments in the hopes that it would, at the very least, relieve enough pain to allow her to function. On her first day of treatment, Val was shocked to realize that as soon as the chamber was pressurized, she was no longer pain! She almost cried! It was such a relief to experience even a short break from the constant pain. When that first treatment was over and the chamber was depressurized, she could feel the pain begin to return. However, the relief from the pain she felt during that treatment gave her hope for a life free from back pain.

After five HBOT treatments, Val had an appointment with her chiropractor. She didn’t tell him that she had started treatments because she wanted to see if he noticed a difference. As he was working on her lower back he asked her if she had started hyperbaric treatments. She asked him to tell her why he was asking and then she would answer his question. He informed her that the inflammation he felt in her lower back was at least half of what it had been on her previous appointment. She then informed him that yes, she had just completed her first five treatments. He told her, “It’s working. Keep going!”

By the time Val completed a round of 40 HBOT treatments, she was experiencing virtually no pain. The chiropractor told her that the inflammation in her back was completely gone. She was able to begin walking, jogging and exercising again. She was even able to complete a half marathon in October 2015.

In 2016, Val got a followup x-ray of her lower back which showed no disk degeneration but did show Sacroiliitis (an inflammation of the sacroiliac joints where the lower spine and pelvis connect). Her doctor prescribed physical therapy. Val also decided to do additional HBOT treatments to help reduce the inflammation. With physical therapy and HBOT treatments, Val gained relief from Sacroilitiis. She is now able to maintain her back health with regular chiropractic treatments, stretching, and exercise. Most importantly, Val was able to avoid having a dreaded back surgery.

No matter what you’ve been told, there is hope… for this and many other conditions. HBOT is treatment without drugs… without surgery… without pain. 

Volunteer Opportunities Available

Volunteer Opportunities Available

Over the years, the name “Sara’s Garden” has often caused confusion regarding who we are and what we really do… the Yellow Pages continues to list us in their Lawn and Garden section and people still call us about purchasing flowers and seeds.

While we are most certainly not a garden center, one thing is true… over the years, our amazing staff and volunteers have had the privilege of working with the clients we serve by “pouring” into them all of their time and talents. They have experienced the joy and satisfaction of watching these clients “bloom” in their independence and abilities. They are indeed “gardeners” of a sort!

Today, volunteers continue to play an essential role to our organization all year long in helping our staff “plant” specialized, comprehensive client services that “harvest” life-changing results!

Volunteer opportunities at Sara’s Garden are not for adults or retirees alone. We are able to provide valuable service experiences for young adults and teens as well. Community service for teens is often a requirement for graduating high school and it’s a great way for students to build their resumes and skill sets. More importantly, volunteer work for high school students can often be a life-changing experience that allows teens to expand their horizons, provide vocational direction, and foster meaningful relationships.

Whether you choose to support Sara’s Garden financially by making a gift online, or sharing your time and talent through our volunteer opportunities, we are so grateful for your involvement in our work to support the amazing clients, students and families we serve. Individual volunteer opportunities include the following:

  • Participating in before and after school programs
  • Reading books and stories to students
  • Preparing classroom resource materials and instructional games
  • Playing games with students at recess
  • Fundraising event support

In addition to the many individual volunteer opportunities there are also group volunteer projects available as well.

If you wish to volunteer for Sara’s Garden and contribute to our mission, please don’t hesitate to contact us to learn how your talents could be used to help our students and clients “grow“.

Year End Campaign: Sensory Room Expansion

Year End Campaign: Sensory Room Expansion

The sensory room at New Horizons Academy is crucial to the success of our students. It is a place where our students can go to calm their bodies and then get back to the business of learning.

Our sensory room has been specially designed to create environments that provide an immersive sensory experience for children with various abilities and disorders in order to meet their individual and specific sensory diets.

We are constantly looking for ways to improve the valuable resources available to our students, including those in our sensory room. Over Christmas break, we hope to be able to update our sensory room in such a way that will allow us to provide both light and dark activities simultaneously. This exciting plan to divide the sensory room will allow us to put even more focus on the varying  and unique sensory needs of our students.

Our 2017 year-end campaign is aimed at raising funds for a new LED interactive ball pool and calm and play crash pit for the sensory room. We believe these resources would be tremendous additions to the area and will offer something special for all of our children. They would provide both the energizing tactile stimulation from the ball pool as well as the calming and comforting effect from the calm and play crash pit.

Sensory Room Expansion Campaign
$4,199.00 – LED Interactive Ball Pool
$1,800.00 – Clear Balls for LED Ball Pool (Qty. 4,000)
$2,019.00 – Multi-Sensory Calm and Play Crash Pit
$8,018.00 – Total Project Cost or Campaign Goal

This new ball pool and crash pit would be amazing resources to “unveil” to the students when they come back from Christmas break.

Would you consider making a year-end donation or pledge to help us provide these amazing resources to our students?

Registration Includes:

  • Scramble format (4-player teams)
  • Green and cart fees
  • Range balls
  • Goodie bag
  • Contests and prizes
  • Awards for top teams
  • Lunch Buffet
Schedule of Events
7:00 a.m.
Range Open
8:00 a.m.
Shotgun Scramble
1:00 p.m.
Lunch Buffet at NHA Career Center
2:00 p.m.

Sara’s Garden is a 501(c)(3) organization. Your charitable contribution is tax deductible under 501(c)(3) of the IRS code, to the extent allowed by law. A receipt will be sent to you after your donation has been received to use for tax purposes.

If you have any questions, please feel free to call (419) 335-SARA, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

How Bullying Shaped My Life

How Bullying Shaped My Life

Every October, schools and organizations across the country observe National Bullying Prevention Month. The goal is to encourage communities to work together to stop bullying and cyberbullying by increasing awareness of the prevalence and impact of bullying on children of all ages.

There is a very fine line between teasing and bullying. How do help children be aware of the difference and how it impacts those around them? Below is a story written by one of our students and submitted to the university she is taking college credit courses at explaining how bullying has shaped her life.

How Bullying Shaped My Life

Like a ferocious dog with a bone, my teacher, Snape*, yelled, “You are the most selfish person I have ever met, and you will never be happy in life!” As I burst into tears, the whole class stared in shock. I never understood why I was so different and socially awkward.  I just knew I was. I ran to the dark locker room in shame, feeling like a half-eaten sandwich at the bottom of the trash can. This was just the beginning of what would be a horrific three years of middle school at Durmstrang*. Bullying affected my life, the way I treat people, and the way I view myself.

In sixth grade, the whole class went to camp for three days and little did I know that this would be the worst camping experience of my life. I was in the same cabin as the girls who would torment me, but at the time, I thought they were my friends. Every day, I would wake up and not be sure if we were really friends. This uncertainty made me feel like I did not deserve friends. Upon returning from camp I went to my room and cried. Sometimes, the girls I thought were my friends would treat me right and I would fall right back into their trap. They would come up to me and say, ” I am so glad we are friends.” “Do you want to come to my house on Friday.” I would agree only to be made fun of for the evening. One day, Malfoy* decided I was only good enough for her if I had something to offer.  I usually had homemade cookies and brownies to share, but on this day, I didn’t. I was thrown aside like yesterday’s newspaper. The other girls were terrified of being targeted by her so they agreed with her and made me feel isolated and alone.

Another traumatic experience was the time I went to Goyle’s* house. We were talking and laughing. Suddenly, in the middle of a story, she said, “Hey Shirley, don’t get offended but you need to control your ADHD better.” I could not believe she would say something like that. I felt as though I wasn’t doing a good job at fitting in, even with my closest friends.

The behavior of my peers may seem hard to believe but, you haven’t heard anything yet. Imagine feeling socially awkward during conversations with friends and being turned against in a moment’s notice.  This happened the first time I got my period. I was participating in track practice when all of a sudden I thought, “Oh no! I need to go to the bathroom.” I waited in the bathroom until someone came in to check on me.  When someone finally came in I asked, “Hey, can you get me either a pad or tampon.?” The girl went and got me both and said, “Congratulations!”  After I finished getting cleaned up, I went into the gym and Malfoy announced to the whole track team including the boys, “Shirley just got her first period!”  This made me feel like a bumblebee on a cold winter night. I couldn’t understand why someone would do that.

All of this bullying made me fall into deep depression, and I frequently thought, “I want to die.” This feeling of hopelessness and despair went on for years. I remember crying to my mom about how I felt different and knew something was wrong with me. My mother would say, “Those girls don’t deserve you.” These feelings and thoughts led to many doctor’s appointments. When I was in seventh grade, I finally found the answer. I was diagnosed with Asperger’s, a form of Autism. After learning more about Asperger’s, I thought, “Finally, it makes sense. This is why I am so different.” I was angry and upset with God that he made me this way. If he loved me why couldn’t he make me normal? The icing on the cake came when my mom wanted me to go to a school for kids with disabilities. I was appalled because I wanted to be normal. We fought for a year, neither of us giving in. I continued to go to school where I was bullied and not receiving the accommodations I needed. And I was miserable! One day, I finally realized that I deserve to be happy and I had enough.

In eighth grade I started at New Horizons Academy (N.H.A.). As their mission statements say they “offer a holistic, all-encompassing educational path for kids with special needs”. The transition was rough because I didn’t keep in touch with anyone from Durmstrang. I was thrown into a new environment with no connections to my past. This journey to the unknown was very scary. With not knowing anybody at N.H.A., I felt less lonely than all my years at Durmstrang. I was with people like me, and my teachers were equipped to educate kids with disabilities.

At N.H.A., there is a no tolerance bullying policy and teachers that actually enforce it. At Durmstrang, teachers would say they would do something about it, and then nothing would ever happen. When Snape said those things to me, I told Principal Umbridge*, and he said he would take care of it. However, no action was ever taken against Snape. That made me feel like a Hawaiian pizza which is disgusting and wrong! In all seriousness, I felt like I was the one who was in trouble and that I was the one who was wrong and not the teacher who failed his job at being a positive role model. That made me feel like crap!

When I was younger, I wanted to be an actress/dolphin trainer/dress designer. I, now however, see that the correct career path for me is to be a special education teacher. I came to this realization when I was volunteering in the preschool classrooms. I chose to volunteer in those classrooms, because I have always had a passion for helping little kids. I never knew how good I was with special education kids. Unlike Snape, I am patient, kind, and understanding.  For example, one day while I was volunteering in the preschool class Collin* got upset and was hitting people and throwing things. I was afraid he might hurt someone, so I took all of the kids out of the classroom and calmed them down.  We played with the rubber cows, which you sit on and bounce around on. I was kind and understanding when it came to why Collin was throwing a fit, and I listened to how the kids felt. I wish that Snap had treated me with the same kindness and understanding at Durmstrang.

He may not have known it, but he left a lasting impression on me and how I treat others.  I know that I never want to be like him.  Some lessons you learn directly, and some lessons you learn through other people.  I learned many lessons at both Durmstrang and New Horizons Academy.  Some were positive, and some were negative, but both shaped me and made me who I am today.  I am an advocate for those in need, and I will always try to be better than I was the day before. Bullying was and is a huge influence in how I treat people and how I view myself.

*Names have been changed to protect the identity of the guilty.

Hope in the Midst of Life ~ October 2017

Hope in the Midst of Life ~ October 2017

“You’re Gonna Miss This”

It is so easy to get caught up in the details of the day.  The hustle and bustle of “getting there” and “doing this” and “getting that done” sure makes life challenging.  So when “I need this,” or “Please, can you help me?” … get thrown in, “challenging” starts to be “this might be crazy”.  Those of us who help others who can’t help themselves, also know things like “I HAVE to do this for ____”,  “He can’t do it, so I need to”  and “Who will do this if I don’t?” – come up in our heads with so much regularity we sometimes think we can’t do it all.  Life gets so busy!  Just remembering to buy toothpaste, and wash enough underwear for the week become significant accomplishments!  Not just getting through the week, but getting through the day, becomes the goal.  And then we wake up and start over.

An article appeared in my inbox today.  It listed “7 songs that are so happy you will cry” or something like that.  So I pulled them up, one at a time on You Tube.  I cried.  I cried in gratitude for the blessings.  I also cried in the grief of missing the times of those particular blessings.  And I cried because even though many days I tried to pause and stop time;  you know, to look around and take a deep breath and breathe in the moment to burn it forever in my memory… the sights and sounds and smells…  because I knew it was all going too fast.  Well I am here to tell you – that even though I did that – it went too fast. The details in my day… mostly the things I saw as problems; you know, the deadlines and lists and needs – got in my way of just being thrilled in each moment… and even thankful for the challenges.

As I write this – I am aware that this sounds cliché.  We all know time goes fast and yet so many times I have let the “busy” and the “necessary” keep me distracted from the faces in front of me.  But lately I see something more… I see people giving their focus to screens instead of faces.  I am not saying screens are bad.  They are a great way to communicate.  But screen time gets in the way of real – face time.

Not to recognize the challenges, and the things that need to be done, might mean that we are not responsible.  Oh but to be free enough from those lists and needs, to breathe life in and laugh with joy … and choose the fun thing on a regular basis!  The dishes will still be there and somehow the underwear will get washed… Oh the delight in that!  And perhaps I am alive even if I don’t read about it on Facebook. I am reminded of statistics I read recently.  It turns out that life is not about the big events – the grand vacation to distant lands, and the expensive dinner out.  The people who are the happiest – are focused on the little moments of each day.  They don’t miss the important little things because of lists; they LIVE in each moment.  What is more – they aren’t just bodily present while focused on a screen.  They are focused on the real eyes and hearts right in front of them.

I know this is easier said than done… But what would your life and your family be like, if you stopped the business?  What if you put your phone down and turned the TV off and you danced in the kitchen with your spouse, or your child?  (In whatever way that you dance when nobody else is watching.)  What if you began to sing like nobody was listening… you know, from your heart?  What if you stopped long enough to listen until those you love had shared all they keep inside because nobody has had the time to hear?  What if your life wasn’t about posting on a screen… but celebrating and laughing with those beside you who need not only your physical presence but your attention so desperately?

What if you could live today, right now, in a way that caused you to not only breathe life in and burn the memory into your heart forever, but let you feel the warmth of your loved ones’ presence?  AND what if you could PLAY?  You know – actually have FUN!  Remember the last time you laughed so hard your sides ached and you nearly wet your pants?

Yes, we have to be responsible, especially if we are helping those who can’t help themselves.  But what if we could focus on them and not the lists, or screens?

You might take some time to pull some songs up.  Listen, and put aside the lists for a while… and then put the screen down and LIVE… because believe it not – “You are going to miss this.”  Make this day the memory you want it to be.

  • “You’re Gonna Miss This” by Trace Adkins
  • “You Raise Me Up” by Josh Groban
  • “Live Like You Were Dying” by Tim McGraw
  • “Home” by Phillip Phillips
  • “100 Years” by Five for Fighting
  • “Blessed” by Martina McBride
  • “I Hope You Dance” by Lee Ann Womack
  • … and so many others.

Janet Miller  MA LPCC


2017-18 NHA Yearbook Sponsorship

2017-18 NHA Yearbook Sponsorship

We are so thankful to our sponsors for making this past year’s yearbook project possible.

Our goal is to once again provide our students and their parents with this very special memento. We hope to raise funds through sponsors in order to keep the costs of the yearbooks as low as possible, so that more students and their families will be able to afford one.

We invite you to consider being a sponsor of this very special project!

We also gladly accept general donations for those not interested in being recognized as sponsors.

COST: $150.00

This level of sponsorship includes a 3.75″ x 4.25″ (approx.) color advertisement in the yearbook, recognition on our website and recognition on social media with a link to your business’ social media page or website.

COST: $90.00

This level of sponsorship includes a business card sized color advertisement in the yearbook and recognition on our website.

COST: $30.00

This level of sponsorship includes your business or name listed in the yearbook and website.

  • Advertisements must be received by March 1, 2017.
  • Ads can be emailed in .jpg/.jpeg format to jessiew@sarasgarden.org.
  • Ads may be dropped off at Sara’s Garden or New Horizons Academy.

Sara’s Garden is a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization and your donation is tax-deductible within the guidelines of U.S. law. To claim a donation as a deduction on your U.S. taxes, please keep your email donation receipt as your official record. We’ll send it to you upon successful completion of your donation.