Tag Archives: Easter Seals of SEPA

Paying it forward in mittens!

by The Delaware County Division

Nancy Braha, Delaware County Program Director, had an idea about a great way to get our children involved with helping other children in the area. This year, the Delaware County Division would have a Mitten Tree during the holiday season. Members of our parent group joined the project; a connection was made with a local charity, notices went home to families inviting them to participate, the tree went up, the lights were turned on and we were on our way. It didn’t take too long for our tree to be filled with mittens, gloves, and hats donated by our staff and families. Today is the day our helpers packed all of the donations, which are now on their way to City Team in Chester, PA. As one of our parents said, “We wanted our children to have the opportunity to give to other children as they have been given to by others.”

Mitten Tree 2 Mittens City Team 2 Mittens City Team 5 Mittens City Team 9 Mittens City Team

Grand Mom Dot

by Pat Fitzmyer

Happy 93 years young to our own Grand Mom Dot! Grand Mom Dot is a feeding assistant in the Starfish classroom in the Philadelphia Yaffe Center.

Grand Mom Dot

Grand Mom Dot began her association with Easter Seals in Philadelphia after her retirement over 30 years ago when she joined the Foster Grandparent program. Grand Mom Dot worked for many years at the Yaffe Center mostly with Miss Julie in the Crickets classroom. She was always the life of the party and really enjoyed her interactions with the children. Sadly, the foster grandparent program ended here and Grand Mom resumed her life as a retiree. She was restless in retirement and called Philadelphia one day to ask about volunteer opportunities at Easter Seals. Volunteer, you say?  How about employment? And that is how she began her life as a feeding assistant in the Starfish classroom.

We salute you and love you and look forward to a continuing relationship with the Starfish classroom.

Happy Birthday Grand Mom Dot!

Facing Power Struggles

by Kathryn Wallace

As a Physical Therapist at Easter Seals, I work one on one with children. This can lead to  power struggles because I am challenging a child to strengthen his/her body in a variety of different ways.

This article is a great reminder that power struggle exists. It is always important to remember that we all need to keep classroom and home environments free of loud/angry voices and intimidating postures. Also, using consistent language and realistic rewards for behavior helps build trust. By gaining trust, we can make positive, lasting changes in the lives of all the children we work with. One of the great ways we are doing that is through Positive Behavior Supports.

Learn more about power struggles here.

The Beauty of Toy Organization!

by Kathryn Wallace

I am an Early Intervention Physical Therapist who works with children from birth to 2 years of age in their natural environment. I wanted to share these easy tips to keeping playtime more organized and purposeful. For me, it leads to more productive Physical Therapy sessions in the home.

Each set of toys has a place.
  • The child, pictured above, knows where to put the toys away. For example, each of the stacking cups and books are in separate bins.
Make sure the toys are accessible and the child can see all of the toys when he/she looks into the bin.
  • A toy box filled with smaller toys is very overwhelming for a child. Instead, put dress up or larger stuffed animals in there.
Less is better
  • Children learn through play. When they are presented with too many toys they have a tendency throw or dump the toys. It is important to sit down and teach a child how to use the toy. The child will attend better if there are fewer options.

Moving Up

The end of the school year is a time to celebrate. Staff, children and their families have worked hard throughout the year to achieve goals that are designed to increase independence. Some of the accomplishments are big, like walking or talking (either verbally or with the help of a communication device). Others may be a bit more subtle, like increased attention or social skills. Whatever the accomplishment may be, the time, dedication and effort put into every one was big.

The end of the year also means, for some of children, it is time to transition. We have loved the opportunity to work with every child. As they transition we celebrate them in Moving Up Ceremonies. Staff, families and students come together for the celebration. The music therapist helps to lead the children in songs and the children receive certificates. It is beautiful moment in which the success of each child can be truly celebrated.

Though the children are “moving up” staff will be available to help families through the transition process. Some children will also be here for school in the summer. No matter where they are, they are forever in our hearts!

Meet JJ…

Walk With Me is just five days away, so it seems a perfect time to introduce our fifth Honorary Ambassador, JJ. There is still time to register for the Walk by clicking here. We hope you will join us on Saturday as we celebrate JJ and all of our Ambassadors.

Meet JJ…

jj_2015

JJ is very social six-year-old who has PVL, Cerebral Palsy, Dysphagia and cortical vision impairments. JJ has tremendous inner strength and we have to believe so much of it comes from his parents, big sister, twin brother and huge extended family. When he was ready for center-based services, he also became part of the Easter Seals family. Since he began at Easter Seals, JJ has come out of his shell even more, his motivation is increased, his words have increased and he is holding his head up better. In addition to his increased words, he will soon be using an eye gazing device to really help him find his voice. When he’s not amazing his teachers, he’s quite happy rough housing with his siblings, playing catch and playing games on his iPad. He also loves watching sports and cheering loudly with his daddy.  When asked to describe JJ, his parents summed it up by saying that JJ is their family’s rock star and inspiration.  His love for life makes their days truly blessed.

Meet Nicolas

Walk With Me is next weekend and the energy is really picking up! Nicolas is one of the Honorary Ambassadors we are so excited that he will be part the Walk. Make sure you go here to register so you can be a part of this powerful day!

Meet Nicolas….

Nicolas

Nicolas is a very happy 4 year old! He has microcephaly and has been defying the odds since the day he was born, which explains his sweet smile. His mom was told that he would not be able to drink from a bottle or use a pacifier, but fortunately for Nicholas, his mom believed he might defy the odds…and she was right! He began receiving services at 3 months old and when it time for center –based services, Nicholas came to Easter Seals, just as his parents had hoped he would. Since then, he has become more aware of his surroundings, he loves to be social and his personality is really shining through. Most importantly, his parents know he is loved, which they say makes a huge difference! When he is not in school, Nicolas loves playing with his big brother Evan, and his dog Giselle. He absolutely loves country music! When you meet Nicolas, it will be easy to see why he is so loved!

Meet Nikhil…

There are 16 more days until Walk With Me! There is still time to register to be sure you can meet all of our amazing Honorary Ambassadors, including Nikhil.

Meet Nikhil…

Nikhil

Nikhil is a very affectionate 6-year-old, who happens to have a very rare genetic syndrome and autism. Nikhil initially began receiving home-based services through Easter Seals. When the traditional transition to center-based services when he was 3 didn’t work, Easter Seals collaborated with his family to ensure he was receiving the services he needed. As a result, when he was ready for center-based services, Nikhil transitioned easily into his class and is doing things like, using a walker and communicating through pictures. He loves music and swinging, he even has a swing in his room. Nikhil loves riding the bus so much, that if he were in charge, school would be held on the bus! But if you want to know the true way to his heart, it is that iconic purple dinosaur, Barney. If you can tear him away from Barney, he is quite happy giving hugs and kisses, which is just one of the many ways he can make people smile!

Perspectives from a Student Teacher

by Elizabeth Anzevino

As a double elementary and special education major at Saint Joseph’s University, I had already experienced seven weeks student teaching in a Kindergarten classroom. I conducted lessons, created assessments, and practiced behavior management techniques. But I knew student teaching at Easter Seals would be an entirely different experience. I did have a background in working with students with Autism and developmental delays from my job as a substitute teacher back home in New Jersey, but I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect on my first day here back in March. But between then and now, as my time as a student teacher is finished, I learned more than I ever could have imagined from my cooperating teacher Megan Guthrie, the staff, and most importantly the students of the Bear Cubs classroom that I got to spend every day with.

After that first day I quickly understood the team effort that went into teaching this group of preschoolers. The coordination and planning between Megan, her assistant Robin, and all of the therapists that came through the door that day amazed me. I always knew that these team members worked together in order to carry out goals of an IEP and to manage a class, but I had no idea how dedicated and involved everyone truly was. As I took more of an observing role the first week or so, I quickly became integrated into the every day activities of the classroom, and I learned that a great deal of planning, structure, and attention to detail had to be given in order to get through the day as smoothly as possible, and in order for the kids to gain as much out of the day as they were able.

Throughout the seven weeks that I was a part of the Bear Cubs I learned more and more about each of the individual students, and it helped me as a teacher. Megan gave me the responsibility to take over circle time as well as whole and small group lessons, and I facilitated transitions from one activity to the next. With my lesson planning I truly got to implement what I had been learning about differentiation for the last four years; and I also saw how challenging it could be. Although I did a lot on my own I truly learned that talking to other teachers and therapists helped with making accommodations and modifications for each of my students. I learned firsthand how the IEP process worked, took and interpreted data on functional routines within our class, and I even got to conduct assessments using the Star Program. Megan and I made many changes to our classroom throughout my time at Easter Seals and it taught me that things will always be ever changing, and as a teacher I will need to be flexible. As much planning as we do, there are always things that pop up unexpectedly that we as teachers are responsible for handling, and in the end it makes us better educators.

The experience I received from Easter Seals is one that I will keep with me always. The environment there is so positive and energetic and made me love going each and every day. Now that student teaching is over and graduation is approaching, I truly miss every second of it, and it makes the time I spent there that much more special. As I start graduate school, I know that Easter Seals has taught me so much I will be able to take with me. I feel more than prepared for my future career because not only did I learn and observe while I was there, but I did it. I was the teacher. I will be forever grateful to Easter Seals and am so happy that I was placed there.

Why I participate in Walk

by Bill Barnes

Can’t. When I was asked to share my story as we prepare for Walk With Me 2015, the one word that kept coming back to me was can’t. My name is Bill Barnes and when I was born I was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. You see as I was growing up my Dad would often say to me that can’t wasn’t in the dictionary. His point to me was that he didn’t want to hear me say I ”couldn’t” do something. Since most of the times he said this I was in the midst of doing exercises and physical therapy, I was not too fond of that saying! Over many years I realized that he was hoping to set me up for a lifetime of success. I never really looked to see if can’t really was in the dictionary, but I have a sneaking suspicion it was!

So at some point I realized it’s not what you can’t do that’s important it’s what you can. Much of that was due to my parents, but the other part to that equation was Easter Seals. I began at Easter Seals as a very young child in the preschool program and also participated in the summer camp program. I also received much more physical therapy than I ever wanted. What I know now is what I can do in my life today has a lot to do with what Easter Seals did for me when I was younger. If they hadn’t pushed me who knows if I’d be a middle school teacher like I am today.

As I got older I began to understand what Easter Seals did for me and I wanted to give back to them as much as I could. Eventually, I became a camp counselor and a Camp Director for Easter Seals. I got to see firsthand how the therapists and teachers at Easter Seals are still striving to show children what they can do. I got to see how they work with each individual child to make sure they are the success that they can be. Just as importantly, I got to do the same for scores of children through the summer camp program. While the camp program no longer exists the magic of social media allows me to see the successes “my kids” have become. We all still call ourselves the Easter Seals family.

Just this past week, two things happened that reminded me how important Easter Seals has been in my life. I recently reconnected via social media with one of my first physical therapists. While wishing me a happy birthday she reminded me how much I “loved” coming to see her. None of the messages I received meant more because I know what she meant to my life. Then later in the week while at an alumni weekend event at my alma mater, Temple University, I was stopped in the middle of campus by a former camper of mine. I absolutely beamed as he told me of the great things he was doing.

I participate in Walk With Me each year because I have seen and been a part of the great work that Easter Seals does. The therapists, teachers, social workers and many others care so much about the children they work with. Their number one goal is to focus on what each child can do – and I know that someday they will look back with pride seeing the successes those children have become because of the work they do. Take it from me, there is no greater feeling!

Bill with Easter Seals parent and volunteer Jeannine Hesser

Bill with Easter Seals parent and volunteer Jeannine Hesser