Monthly Archives: May 2016

Meet Lila and Emma

by Melanie O’Brien


Lila and Emma are 4-year-old twins whose personalities are as different as night and day. What they do have in common, aside from being adorable, is autism. In addition to autism, they each have unique needs and challenges. Lila, whose needs are more physical, began receiving services when she was about 3-months-old. Her therapists noticed that Emma, whose needs are more medical, might benefit from Early Intervention services for some feeding issues she was having. When it was time for the girls to transition to center-based services, a therapist recommended Easter Seals. Lila and Emma began attending the Early Intervention Center last year. Since they have started, Lila went from not talking, to stringing three words together very quickly. Emma is now starting to use some words. Both girls were given communication devices, that with such amazing progress, they have almost outgrown. Their cognitive skills are really growing and Lila and Emma are becoming quite social! When they aren’t busy wowing their parents, teachers and therapists with their progress, they are busying doing the things all 4-year-olds love. Together, they watch favorite shows, which include Bubble Guppies and Daniel Tiger and enjoying their favorite snack, Goldfish. Emma is big fan of technology. She loves to dance, especially in a twirly skirt. Emma may be Minnie Mouse’s biggest fan. Her wonderful sense of humor and love of laughter means you will often find her with a smile. Lila loves to read, Mickey Mouse is a favorite subject. She is a very affectionate little girl who loves to learn. Her quiet demeanor allows her to happily soak in the world around her. Emma and Lila are beautiful examples of how two girls can look similar, but be so uniquely beautiful.

Join Lila and Emma and all of the Honorary Ambassadors on June 4th at the zoo for our Walk With Me event!

Meet Cassidy


At 5-years-old, Cassidy is sweetness, determination and sass all rolled into one adorable girl. She definitely does not let her Cerebal Palsy get in her way. After her family began to notice a developmental delay at 8 months, she began receiving home-based services from Easter Seals therapists.  They were all wonderful individuals who Cassidy began to adore. So, when the time came to transition to Preschool, the decision to choose Easter Seals for center-based services was an easy one. On her third birthday, Cassidy began attending the early intervention program in Montgomery County. Since then, with the help of teachers, therapists and her family, she has accomplished some amazing things! She has gone from a very low vocabulary to stringing together three-word sentences. Cassidy can now pull herself up to her walker and use it. Her fine motor skills have really improved, which can be seen in her love for coloring and painting. Arts and creativity seem to be in her genes, which is obvious in her passion for music. She loves music therapy at school and rocking out with her parents at home. Cassidy also has some pretty typical five-year-old passions…pizza, Disney movies and the Sprout Channel. Her charm and determination are powerful combination and we can’t wait to see what she’ll do next!

Meet Cassidy and all the Honorary Ambassadors at Walk With Me on June 4th at the Philadelphia Zoo.

Century 21 Advantage Gold

by Tom Nevrotski

Century 21 Advantage Gold is a proud sponsor of Easter Seals. The other day, our leadership team had the pleasure of visiting the Easter Seals facility on Ford Road in Philadelphia. I had the pleasure of meeting Lila.  Lila is a beautiful young girl who went from not talking to doing the things all 4-year-olds love in a short amount of time.  Lila loves to read, and she is a very affectionate little girl who loves to learn. It was amazing to see all the children laugh, play and learn. These kids are our “WHY” in supporting Easter Seals.

tom and Lila


by Al Perry

My daughter Lucia was born nine years ago. Nine months later I participated in my first Walk With Me. I got involved because Century 21 was a corporate sponsor and my firm Century 21 Advantage Gold had a history of supporting local Easter Seals efforts. Truth told I didn’t know much about Easter Seals.  I got involved because it was fashionable to support a worthy cause.

I met so many great people during my first Walk. Most rewarding was meeting the children and the families impacted by Easter Seals. The kids were so full of excitement it was infectious. Some had difficulty communicating and others had mobility challenges. What they all had in common was a proud sense of accomplishment and a passion for life.

I was forever changed. It was like someone opened my eyes to show me a world of hope in a sea of obstacles. I looked at my healthy nine month old daughter sitting in our jogging stroller and appreciated our many blessings. Lucia smiled at me in much the same way the Easter Seals kids grinned at their parents. My wife and I walked that day and toward the end I picked Lucia up out of the stroller and held her hands so she could walk the final twenty feet. When we crossed the finish line a bunch of walkers and volunteers gave us high five’s.

Since that day Lucia and I have participated in Walk With Me each year. She is nine years old now and the Walk is one of her favorite days of the year. Every year we meet wonderful new people, many who are battling significant challenges. In the early years Lucia and I couldn’t help but see the differences. In recent years I’ve noticed a significant change. We have become more aware and now seem to focus more on our many similarities. The kids and their families are not so different from ours. Sure they may need help walking or communicating but they laugh and cry just like we do. They push themselves to try new things and get really frustrated when they don’t excel just like us. Their families support each other much like ours.  Their smiles also light up a room.

I am so proud of Lucia and our family. We love participating because we meet new friends and take pride in helping others overcome their challenges. Today we see beyond someone’s limitations. We now see their inner strength. We are part of something special and it’s more rewarding than words can describe.

Al and kids

Al visits some of the children in at the Early Intervention Center

Go Baby Go!

by Susan Lowenstein

At the Bucks County Division, we have fun rolling, walking, running and climbing…our children have many ways they move around to explore their environment. But thanks to funding through our own assistive technology department, along with an enthusiastic team of employees and volunteers, we have also added “driving” to our list of modes of mobility. Yes, you read that correctly. Driving!

Following the lead of an engineer named Cole Galloway at University of Delaware who started the “Go Baby Go” program, we now have several adapted electric cars available at our Bucks County facility to trial with children who do yet have an independent way of moving around on their own. These cars were purchased directly through Toys ‘R Us and are just what you probably pictured in your head – those crazy fun electric cars you might see young children driving on a warm spring day in your own neighborhood.

However, these cars were adapted by a team of volunteers under the direction of Easter Seals’ very own assistive technologist, Laurie McGowan, so that a child with a disability can access specially mounted switches to make the car move. Instead of having to press a pedal with a foot to propel the car forward, our students only have to reach forward and press a large switch (the “go” switch) which is mounted directly in front of them on the steering wheel. In addition to the “go” switch, some of the cars have also been adapted with additional seating support systems, so that a child who is unable to sit up independently can be supported in an upright position and still drive! One of the cars has even been equipped with a horn, which is a switch mounted on the side door and can easily be accessed by a child who is driving the car. So not only can our children drive, but they can “honk” at oncoming pedestrian traffic!

One student who is frequently seen driving down our hallways in our adapted “Barbie” car is Julianna. Julianna can take steps in her adapted gait trainer (which she does on a regular basis), but can cover a lot more ground in her car. We use large pieces of foam around her trunk to help her sit in an upright position. Additional foam is also used to help support her left arm so she can reach the “go”switch with ease. With just the touch of one of her left fingers on the big red “go” switch mounted to the steering wheel, she speeds down the hallway easily, searching for some of her favorite friends and staff at school!

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Another student who has recently tested out her driving skills at Easter Seals is Madison, a young girl who just happens to be a classmate of Julianna’s. Madison just recently starting taking steps in a gait trainer at school, but like Julianna, is not quite strong enough (yet!) to walk on her own. It did not take Madison long to figure out how to push the “go” switch with one hand, and honk the horn with the other! Watch out, friends, because here she comes.

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Much research is published regarding independent mobility and its link to cognitive and social benefits for children. The girls’ smiles light up the school when they can move from classroom to classroom, without tiring, and say “Hi!” to many of the their other friends and staff in other classrooms! Keep on driving, girls. And know that you were warned, pedestrians, if you hear a honk coming from behind you in the hallways, you might need to move over and make room for our newest drivers!

Meet Olivia


Olivia is a beautiful 2-year-old little girl. When she was 6-months-old, her parents noticed something was happening while she was sleeping. Multiple tests indicated everything was fine. However, they followed their instincts and persisted in figuring out what was happening. It was finally determined that Olivia has focal epilepsy, which has caused some developmental delays. After a strong recommendation from her pediatrician, she began receiving home-based services from Easter Seals. Since then, Olivia is beginning to babble, if you listen carefully, you can hear “mom” and “dad” sometimes! She can now sit up and get on all fours. Olivia recently got a walker and is learning to use it…when she decides she wants to. She is a beautiful combination of an old soul with just the right amount of sass! She loves to be the center of attention, and when she isn’t, this inquisitive girl is soaking up everything around her. Olivia loves to check herself out in the mirror and we can understand why. Her gorgeous eyes are captivating and her fun personality is contagious!

Olivia is an Honorary Ambassador for Walk With Me this year. Come meet her and the other Ambassadors on June 4th at the Philadelphia Zoo. Click here to learn more or register for the Walk.