Every year, many of the families at Easter Seals benefit from some amazing generosity. We are fortunate to receive some incredible support from the Delaware Valley Children’s Charities to help children’s Christmas wishes to come true. They are an amazing group of volunteers who work hard throughout the year.
Each year though, for various reasons, which can be a simple case of timing, we have families that are struggling to make Christmas magical. Our amazing team of social workers, teachers and really, everyone, work hard to identify those families in need and a solution. We often turn to our donors for this special request.
This year, we are so grateful for the team at the Long and Foster Team in Audobon! They came together quickly and were able to make Christmas happen for not just one, but six families in need. Wish lists were read and checked off. Gifts were wrapped and marked, not just for a child we serve, but also their siblings.
It is an amazing group of realtors that are turning six houses on Christmas morning into some very happy homes!
This time of year is rich in traditions. The traditions are as varied as the people that celebrate them, yet equally special to those that cherish them.
For many years, staff, students and families have been celebrating a very sweet tradition in Philadelphia. Each year, families come in to participate in the gingerbread workshop with their child. Staff chips in with the necessary building supplies….wafer cookies (a gingerbread industry standard in roofing), gum drops (a versatile tool in both decor and landscaping) and all the little things that help make a gingerbread house a sweet symbol of the holidays. At this event they are building not just houses, but also memories.
The gingerbread workshop is also a great time for the children to demonstrate skills they have been working on this year. They have learned about holiday traditions through books and their fine motor skills are put to good use. It is also a great time for families to come together with staff and celebrate.
We hope your traditions are just as sweet and just as fun.
by Melanie O’Brien
As we are surrounded by tons of commercials for toys and games, especially around the holidays, it can be difficult to sort through all of it. What is an appropriate gift that will be well loved and played with? What do you tell friends and family who ask for gift suggestions?
These questions can be especially challenging for parents of children with disabilities or special needs. However, thanks to Toys R Us, there is now a resource guide for toys for children with disabilities. The guide is broken down by skills, and also includes play tips and an app guide. You can find it here.
Because when you give a gift, you hope it is met with a smile like this!
by Michael Murphy
The benefits of a mixed ability group program such as The Friendship Academy at Easter Seals, have long been advertised as great social interaction for students with special needs, unique opportunities for peers to learn from each other and an exciting adventure through diversity in the classroom. Often times, the benefits are only seen on the side of the students with special needs, however as I have seen the interactions between Friendship Academy students and other students throughout Easter Seals’ Bucks County location, I can say that the benefits of the “typical” student experience are just as rewarding as those of the students with special needs.
After a short time attending the Friendship Academy students have begun to exhibit empathy and respect for all of their classmates and the other students around the building. We have seen students develop new ways of asking their friends questions and solving problems with or without formal language. Students have taken on positions as role models or leaders to their friends and support them through difficult tasks. In the middle of a circle time you hear students complimenting others on their efforts to sit quietly or nicely. They praise each other for trying new foods or engaging in new experiences. Whether they use verbal language, sign language or a thumbs up, they are encouraging and embracing their new friends.
Friendship Academy is not just about giving friends with special needs an opportunity for typical peer interaction, but it is about introducing ALL students to the many ways of creating and maintaining good friendships and interpersonal skills. Every day there are new experiences that help all students to build and improve skills in listening, positive communication and building respect for others. Children at the preschool age have no idea what any of that means, and they shouldn’t, there is time for that. Right now it is important to focus on being good listeners, hard workers and building very important FRIENDSHIPS