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!!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
Only eleven days until Walk With Me! Have you signed up yet? Do you know who you are walking for? If not, you can register here and learn who your ambassador will be. It might just be Shane.
Shane has some serious style, right down to his amazing smile. Shane is a sweet , affectionate, 4-year-old boy with autism. When it was time for him to start center-based services, it was recommended that his parents consider Easter Seals. As soon as they visited, they knew it was the right place. Since Shane has been attending the Early Intervention Program, he has gained more words…he especially loves to sing, and is much better at following directions. When he isn’t in school, you can find him holding his baby brother, Ashai. He also loves watching movies, especially Frozen and Rio! And his all time favorite thing in the world? Cars! Toy cars, real cars, Shane loves cars. And also, just like most kids, he loves to eat, and his favorite food group is candy! All eyes are on Shane, not just because he is so cute, but also because we are excited to see what he will do next!
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.
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!
Walk With Me is quickly approaching! This year, the event will be held on June 6th at the Philadelphia Zoo. It is an amazing day to raise funds and awareness for Easter Seals programs and services. The day also allows us to shine a spotlight on some of the amazing children who benefit from our services as well as their incredible families.
Over the next couple of weeks, we will introduce you to our Honorary Ambassadors.
Keishlyan, or “Keishy” as she is affectionately called by all of her teachers and therapists, is a very smart 4-year-old. Keishy has cerebral palsy and attends the Approved Private School in our Philadelphia Division. Her family moved here from Puerto Rico to ensure that she was receiving the best services possible. Since she began attending Easter Seals, she has been doing some amazing things. Keishy has begun using eye gaze software to increase her communication, she is learning to use a gait trainer, communicate with sign language and is using her left arm, which she hadn’t been doing at all. Keishy also happens to be bilingual. When she is not wowing everyone at school, she loves to go shopping and has quite an eye for fashion. She also loves to swim, listen to music and watch her favorite shows. She knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to let you know, whether it be a book, an outfit or her favorite…bubbles. Keishy is a brilliant girl with a smile to match!
Join Keishy and the other Honorary Ambassadors at Walk With Me! You can register here.
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
by Jacqueline McClure
Last month, Brandywine Technical College High School’s Gateway program held a two week fundraiser for Walk With Me on June 6, 2015 to benefit Easter Seals Southeastern Pennsylvania. The 8th grade class of four students voted on the organization they wanted to fundraise for and set a goal of $800. By selling Philly Pretzel Factory pretzels and asking for donations going from classroom to classroom, they surpassed that goal and raised over $1100! Thank you to Gateway 8th graders and their teacher, Mindy Hughes for all your hard work and fundraising efforts to spread the word about Walk With Me Philadelphia throughout your community.
by Melanie O’Brien
Walk With Me is almost here! The energy and enthusiasm of everyone who participates is what makes it an amazing day. For many of our families, that enthusiasm carries throughout the year. Will, one of Honorary Ambassadors is a perfect example. His parents are amazing champions for his success and they work closely with the staff at Easter Seals to really maximize Will’s independence. We hope you have the opportunity to meet Will and his family, we know you’ll love them as much as we do!
Will is a well-traveled five-year-old having been to 15 states and Washington, DC. Nothing holds him back from seeing the world; but how he sees the world is a little tricky. In addition to developmental delays, Will has cortical visual impairment. Though unable to see at birth, through specialized therapy, his eyes are being trained to see. To achieve this, it is critical that his vision therapy be integrated in every therapy he receives. This specialized approach is why his parents chose Easter Seals. Since Will began receiving services, his ability to see the world around him is improving constantly. Will’s parents are happy to report that he now can see at least 18 feet and they credit the skill, care, and dedication of his Easter Seals team. Not only has his vision improved, he has become more mobile, and his tone, strength, and fine motor skills have all improved! All of these strides allow him to do some of his favorite things: swimming, playing, and listening to music.