‘Walking school’ shows amputees a new life without wheelchairs

INDIANAPOLIS — After a moped exploded six years ago, Christopher Allen McCoy was in a coma for four months. He woke up in a hospital, missing both of his legs and his right hand.

“I was so scared,” said McCoy, 32. “I hated myself.”

McCoy sat in his wheelchair for three years after waking up, unsure of what he now could be. Amputees are often scared to use prosthetics because they do not have enough support or training to learn how to use them, leading them to give up and use a wheelchair.

For McCoy, that fear ended when he started following famous athletes with upper- and lower-extremity prosthetics. Two of his role models, Paralympic gold medalists Dennis Oehler and Todd Schaffhauser, invited McCoy to try out their Amputee Walking School in Indiana.

The ups, downs and what’s new for Indiana Black Expo Summer Celebration

The Indiana Black Expo Summer Celebration has been around for decades, but organizers continually look for new ways to make the event stand out.

It’s not always easy, organizers said. But it’s always rewarding.

“The reason why we’ve lasted so long is based upon strong collaboration that we have with partners, with the government, with the city of Indianapolis and with the state,” said Tanya Bell, president and CEO of Indiana Black Expo.

This year’s 11-day Summer Celebration, underway through July 16, has new sponsors, new programs aimed at higher education access and retention for black youth and — for the first time in the event’s 47 years — free admission to the many exhibits, conferences and workshops at the Indiana Convention Center.

DoubleMap innovates transportation system for the blind

After losing his eyesight, Christopher Baskins knew he would depend on public transportation for the rest of his life.

But Baskins, 34, remembers how he used to get lost at nighttime when the public buses he used wouldn’t call out his stop.

“It’s always my worst nightmare to get off and start venturing off into a neighborhood that you think is yours, and you find out it’s not,” Baskins said.

Baskins moved to Bloomington in 2009 and later enrolled in Indiana University, hoping that a smaller town’s transportation system would help him work and study at the same time. Two years later, IU partnered with DoubleMap, an Indianapolis-based company that provides transit software to universities, hospitals, corporations and airports.

The contract included fitting buses with automatic voice annunciations of every bus stop to make sure that visually-impaired riders like Baskins would never get lost on their way home.

Today, DoubleMap has expanded its markets across 35 states nationwide and three continents, acquiring about 200 customers so far.

“It speaks to you,” Baskins said. “I can be more independent, I don’t have to bother anybody, I can mind my own business like anybody else on the bus.”

Indiana college joins growing list of schools no longer requiring SAT for admission

For years, high school juniors and seniors have fretted over taking the hourslong SAT, a rite of passage long considered a prerequisite for getting into college.

Now, an increasing number of schools are eliminating that anxiety by no longer considering standardized test scores from the SAT or ACT when evaluating students for admission.

For the 2018-19 school year, Hanover College in Southern Indiana will join nearly one thousand public and private accredited institutions across the nation that have opted for a “test optional” or “test flexible” admissions policy.

Hanover will be Indiana’s ninth higher education institution with such a policy. Other schools include Vincennes University, Earlham College and Martin University.

“We do not see a strong correlation between standardized test scores and a student’s ability to persist in the class,” said Jon Riester, Hanover’s vice president for enrollment management.

Despite unprecedented momentum, Texas rejects marijuana legislative reform

AUSTIN — Marijuana reform advocates say there was unprecedented, bipartisan support for their efforts in this year’s legislative session, but it still wasn’t enough to change state law.

House Bill 2107, authored by state Rep. Eddie Lucio III, D-Brownsville, would have given safe access to medical cannabis for qualifying patients with certain debilitating medical conditions under strict conditions listed in the bill. Although it earned 77 Democratic and Republican co-authors after its committee hearing, the bill never made it to the House floor for a vote.

“We are going to see a lot more families leave the state of Texas over the next 18 months with children who have neurological disorders. They will move to other states where they can get treatment,” said Rep. Jason Isaac, a Republican from Dripping Springs and one of the co-authors.