by Sandy Masayko, Director of Assistive Technology
When you think of Australia, what comes to mind? Kangaroos, perhaps? Or koalas, crocodiles or the Great Barrier Reef? Probably Assistive Technology wasn’t at the top of the list, but I am about to travel to Australia to explore how the Aussies are using and developing AT to serve people with disabilities in their country.
This afternoon I am setting out for Sydney, Australia, on the first part of my study tour of three Easter Seals affiliates in Australia. In the fall I was delighted to be selected by the National Office of Easter Seals to visit Ability First Australia agencies: Northcott in Sydney; Rocky Bay and Ability Centre in Perth. My goals are to learn how AT is delivered in Australia, to investigate new technologies, and to share information about our programs at Easter Seals of SEPA. And to enjoy Australia!
With about 20 hours of flying time and additional time for layovers and transportation to and from the airport, this will be a very long trip from Philly. First I fly to Los Angeles, and then after a three-hour layover, I will board a plane for Sydney, a 14 hour flight that involves crossing the International Date Line. I will be arriving in Sydney 8:45 am on Friday, February 10. My strategy for adapting to the time change is to stay awake as long as I can on the flight out of Los Angeles by reading and watching films, then pull my sleep mask over my eyes to catch a few hours of sleep. When I wake up, it should be about time to land in Sydney.
Over the next three weeks I will share my journey with you by blogging at our Easter Seals of Southeastern PA website. I look forward to your comments and questions.
by Jeanine Johnson
It has now been a little over a year since I joined the Easter Seals family. I can say that I feel sufficiently settled-in. Due to the nature of my position as Data Secretary, I often get to know names of individuals before having the opportunity to meet them in person. It has been a great experience getting to know both students and staff.
It still amazes me that the excitement I felt about making an initial connection with one of the students named Max has not waned in the least. It started out with kisses and now has expanded to cats! He fell in love with my mug that had a picture of my cat named Teacup on it. I made a copy of the picture for him. This new found love of cats has made its way into his home life as his parents report that “he is really liking cats now.” The best part of the last year has been the multiplication of connections and bonds I have had the opportunity to make. I now have many little friends! To one named Mung, I am known as Wonder Woman and because of that I dressed-up as the character for the Fall Festival. Another, Jaylen, stops by every day and gives me a hug before boarding the bus to go home. Others I visit during the day to receive my daily smiles and conversations. I get to witness first hand their progress and growth and it is nothing short of spectacular! The programs here tap into each child’s potential and make it reality. These interactions recharge my batteries and I’m able to be a more productive employee because of their enrichment. It is such a symbiotic environment.
I had spent over 20+ years in the banking industry and I can truly say that I have never felt as fulfilled as I feel here. Easter Seals is good for education and good for the soul.