NF Center Heads to FuNFest!

img_1260The 6th annual FuNFest was held a month earlier this year.  The date was moved up by the hosts, Amanda and Brian Walk, in the hopes of a sunny, fall Saturday afternoon. Their decision was a smart one as the fundraiser went off without a hitch on Saturday, September 10th, 2016, near Gatch Lake in Vandalia, IL. Even thunderstorms for 24 hours before the event couldn’t stop them from moving forward. The Washington University NF Center staff and some local families took “The Big Red Bus” to FuNFest to join in the fun! The NF Center sponsored a wind chime making activity which strengthened fine motor skills while creating a lasting memento of the day.  The activity was a big hit among kids of all ages!


FuNFest is a family-friendly festival designed to create awareness about NF1 and to raise funds for NF1 research. The event includes games, bounce houses, music, a live auction, silent auction bidding, and the infamous “Cow Patty Bingo!” All proceeds raised at FuNFest are donated to the St. Louis Children’s Hospital Foundation/Washington University NF Center to fund laboratory research.


NF1 is a common genetic disorder, occurring in about one in every 2,500 births.  This complex genetic disorder can affect almost every organ system in the body, causing a predisposition for tumors to grow on nerves in the brain and throughout the body. While there is no cure for NF1, researchers and clinicians are working tirelessly to understand more about the origins of this disorder and solutions for improving life with NF1.

We had a great day with the Walk family, their friends, family and community!  We want to thank the Walks for all the effort they put into hosting this well planned and much-anticipated event.  And, we especially want to thank them for inviting the Washington University NF Center and our families to join them.  Already, we look forward to the seventh annual FuNFest in September of 2017!

Nicole’s Nook: Chromebooks as a Learning Tool


School has started, and I hope you all are enjoying the start of another school year! Beyond the usual piles of notebooks, binders, pencils and markers, many paperless options are also being recommended to help your child complete school assignments. A lot of schools have opted for Chromebooks and access to Google Docs and Google Classroom for their students and staff.

I will be the first to admit that exploring the Chromebook has been uncharted territory for me. However, this technology is becoming prevalent in so many schools that taking a closer look at its features and options are a necessity.

If you have access to a Chromebook, let me walk you through some of the accessibility features:

Go to the lower right corner and click on the hand icon, Select Accessibility. This can enable:

  • ChromeVox (screen reader, spoken feedback of screen)
  • High contrast mode
  • Screen Magnifier
  • Automatic Clicks (click without using your mouse; clicks when the mouse pointer stops)
  • On­screen keyboard (can be used with a mouse or tapped with touch screen)

To add any of these Accessibility Options, simply click on that option. You can also go to Settings and enable the features you’d like as well as the following:

  • Showing Accessibility options in the system menu
  • Having a large mouse cursor
  • Enabling Sticky keys (this includes holding down the ChromeVox keys)
  • Enabling Tap Dragging (to move objects, tap and drag your finger)

When using Google Docs, there are also some Accessibility options available:


  • Go to TOOLS, select VOICE TYPING (or CTRL/SHIFT/S)

Screen Reader:

  •  CTRL/ALT/Z (reads entire screen)
  • CTRL/ALT/X (reads selection)

This has been a quick introduction to what Chromebooks can offer.  More to come on this new-to-me piece of technology. I wish you all a happy and smooth transition into the new school year!

– Nicole Weckherlin, OTR/L, St. Louis Children’s Hospital Occupational Therapist