Tag Archives: Easter Seals of SEPA

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

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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.

Meet Janiya and Dymir

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Janiya and Dymir are brother and sister, they would also call themselves best friends. The first few years of their lives were unstable and challenging for Janiya, 11 and Dymir, 12, who also have developmental delays. Today, with the support of their loving mother and the therapists at Easter Seals, they are doing fantastic. Janiya and Dymir are students at a cyber charter school and once a week Janiya receives Speech and Occupational Therapy, Dymir was also receiving the same therapies until recently. With the help of Easter Seals therapists, they have both improved their fine motor skills and their speech, which has led to greater self-confidence. When they come in for therapy, they literally run into the building, which is a wonderful testament to their experience. When they aren’t in school or therapy, they are doing typical kid stuff. Janiya is a Girl Scout and loves to dance. Dymir is a Boy Scout and he especially loves the camping trips. Together, they enjoy riding their bikes and seeing who can bounce the highest on a pogo stick. Janiya wants to be a police officer when she grows up and Dymir wants to be a firefighter. They have an energy that is inspiring and captivating and we can’t wait for you to meet them!

Meet Janiya and Dymir at Walk With Me on June 4th. Visit our Walk With Me website to register or learn more.

Meet Georgia

by Melanie O’Brien

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When sweet 4-year-old Georgia was born, everything seemed pretty typical. However, when she was about 10-months old, her mom noticed her eyes seemed to be twitching and she wasn’t meeting her milestones. Georgia has a partial trisomy 14 disorder. She began receiving home-based services, including occupational, physical and speech therapies and special education. When Georgia turned 3, she started attending Easter Seals Early Intervention Center for half-days. She was doing well and it was quickly determined that she would really benefit from full-days in the Approved Private School program in the Yaffe Center. Since then, she has gone from a quiet and shy to very social! Georgia loves going to school and has become very interested in the world around her. She is initiating play, trying to dress herself and going up and down steps. When she isn’t at school, Georgia is playing with her sisters and taking advantage of all the museums and cultural opportunities that Philly has to offer. Georgia loves color and to laugh and she is painting the world with her beautiful smile!

Meet Georgia and the other Honorary Ambassadors at Walk With Me on June 4th at the Philadelphia Zoo. You can learn more and register at www.walkwithme.org/philadelphia.

Repair Angels

by Sandra Masayko

Easter Seals Bucks County Division was visited recently by three Repair Angels! Daniel Frank, a mechanical engineering graduate student at the University of Florida, recruited two of his friends, Adam Smith of Bethlehem and Corazón Irizarry of Philadelphia to help Easter Seals Assistive Technology Department get broken electronic toys repaired and back into the classrooms.  Adam is an electronics technician and Corazón is a medical student at the University of Pennsylvania.  Together these volunteers soldered, wired, glued and reconstructed dozens of toys. This saved Easter Seals thousands of dollars in replacement costs and more importantly, brought the toys back into the classrooms where children learn through play and manipulation of the toys.  Thank you Repair Angels!Repair Angels cropped 1

Ambassador Update – JJ

JJ was an Honorary Ambassador for Walk With Me two years in a row! His mom shares what he has been up to since the last Walk.

JJ has been doing great since graduating from Easter Seals this past June.  He misses all his friends, teachers and therapists, but has been fortunate to keep in touch with some of them.

He started Kindergarten in September at a private school in Philadelphia and has been thriving. He has started babbling more and tries to repeat words and songs tunes.  JJ has also learned to independently switch  between 2 games on his iPad. All that OT paid off!! He does continue to receive services at school – OT, PT, ST and Vision.

His new found obsession is watching the Family Feud with Steve Harvey! He LOVES his man “Eve” and we must watch every night!  Thankfully the family likes the show too.

JJ can’t wait for June to see some old friends at the Walk With Me event!!

 

 

 

Ambassador Update – Dominique

Dominique was an ambassador for Walk With Me in 2013 and has been keeping busy since then! Her mom shares what she has been up to…

Dominique continues to be the happiest, hardest working person I know. Her persistence and determination has helped her expand her vocabulary through the use of her iPad. With this advancement in communication, we have learned a lot about Dominique and her adorable, funny personality. We have learned that Dominique loves the Frog Song. But only the version she learned from Miss Jennifer’s class while she was at Easter Seals. She also enjoys dancing and listening to “Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift. She has also made it quite clear that she does not like moms out of tune version. In her spare time she lets us know that she would like to stop at the Starbucks for a Vanilla Bean Frappuccino and check out the toy department at Target which she refers to as the “Target Playground.” She has also taught herself to play the piano. She loves to go on YouTube to find songs and piano tutorials so she can replicate on her piano. Currently, through the help of her piano teacher and therapist, she is working on The Beatles, “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” I just want to hold hers forever.

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New to the family

by Jeanine Johnson

I’m a recent recruit to the Easter Seals family. I’ve been hired in a newly created Data Secretary position. And yes, the job is as glamorous as the title implies!

All jokes aside, every position contributes to the success of the organization running smoothly and fulfilling its mission. My welcome by the staff has been extraordinary. The transition has been seamless. I’d like to share with you something that has started over the last week or so, that makes me smile until my cheeks hurt. There is this student here named Max. He has extremely limited mobility. I met him and we instantly clicked. He now greets me by forming kissing motions with his lips. I blow kisses back. He obviously knows the universal language of love. We both smile from ear to ear and it keeps me smiling for a long time after. I don’t think I could have anticipated such a wonderful perk when I decided to join Easter Seals. It’s a daily reminder of the importance of the purpose we serve and the potential joy we can give and receive from simple acts!

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Santa’s Workshop at Delco in December

by Sandy Masayko

Several parents of children who attend Easter Seals in Delaware County joined Laurie McGowan, Assistive Technology Specialist, and Sandy Masayko, Director of AT, in a workshop to adapt toys. The parents learned how to adapt battery powered electronic toys with a battery interrupter to make the toys accessible by switches, and they constructed adapted crayon holders from PVC pipes. They also learned how to adapt stacking blocks using adhesive magnets, to make a “coloring car” from Duplo ™ pieces and clothespins to hold a crayon, and to adapt puzzle pieces and action figures with magnets, shower rings, wooden knobs and Velcro loops. Look for pictures of the adaptations on the Easter Seals web site under Assistive Technology–to be posted soon!

The workshop will be offered upon request at other sites.

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Community Sourced Christmas

by Rebecca Erb


Delaware Valley Children’s Charity has been our community partner for decades.  I’ve been here for 15 years and it started well before my time. They are the link between our families in need and community members that want to help families during the holidays.  We provide them with wish lists from our students and their siblings and they share that information with their participants.  They support all of Easter Seals in Southeastern PA and dozens of other community organizations around the Philadelphia area.  We are so fortunate to have them as a partner. It is this spirit of giving that makes the holidays magical!

For our families in Bucks County A real look inside the sleigh