Category Archives: Latest News

Thriving, Sassy and Healthy!

The following blog was written by a parent of two daughters in Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) Program:

Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Early Childhood Intervention Program has been extremely beneficial and rewarding for my children. My 2-year-old daughter started doing therapy with ECI when she was 7 months old. She couldn’t walk, talk or even roll over very well and she wasn’t sitting up at all.

Today, she is a THRIVING, SASSY, and very HEALTHY 2-year-old that can do almost everything the doctors said she would struggle doing. Her progress is definitely thanks to Easter Seals Greater Houston!! I am so thankful for her team of ECI therapists and the time and dedication they have put into making sure my KaMaya and her little sister Kamoura are at their very best.

Kamoura does physical therapy with ECI as well and has come a long way. Even though we are working on posture and walking, I have confidence that over the next few months, she will also be above and beyond what the doctors doubts she could do.

We have definitely enjoyed the relationships that have been built between my kids and their ECI therapists. I have appreciated the kindness and understanding that is always shown to my family, especially during the COVID19 pandemic. We are looking forward to seeing more progress with our girls in the next few months! God bless you all!

Special thanks to KaMaya and Kamoura’s ECI Team: Early Intervention Specialist Sarah Summers, Physical Therapist Ms. Charisse, Occupational Therapists Ms. Shama and Ms. Christy, SST teacher Ms. Kim, Nutritionist Ms. Tien, and Speech therapist Ms. Gretchen.

The time from birth to age three is critical in your child’s physical and cognitive development.  To help make sure your baby is reaching their developmental milestones, you can complete this free Ages & Stages Questionnaire or check with your pediatrician if you have concerns.  Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Early Childhood Intervention is accepting referrals and offers tele-health as well as in-home services. Learn more!

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Family Camp Fun

Easter Seals Greater Houston puts on a variety of fully inclusive camps. Over the last year many of our camps have been virtual, but we found a way to create a phenomenal family camp in which everyone was safely socially distanced. Here are some of the wonderful memories made at Family Camp!

“We have no words to say once and again THANK YOU so much!! We had the best family weekend EVER!! We were so happy, enjoying all the nature, all the activities and the most wonderful thing was to see Roman enjoying himself during the activities. It was great to see that he was able to fully participate in all of the activities with us, seeing his face smiling is priceless, and it was possible thanks to you!!
All the staff was very kind and patient with us, because we are a big family!! God bless you and keep doing this amazing job, bringing happiness to families like ours!!
I have attached some beautiful pictures of Roman and my family during this wonderful weekend!!

Regards and blessings,
Carolina and Family”

Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Family Camp was Kingsley’s first time at a sleep-away camp! With his family by his side, Kingsley felt safe & comfortable trying all new camp activities. On his first day of camp he rode horses, climbed the rock-wall, and even zip-lined! That night, we played a game called “Mission Rescue”; we had to save camp from being turned into cheese by an evil scientist! Campers had to make it from the dining hall to the other side of camp without getting caught by the “minions”, who would shine their flashlight on you and make you start over. Suddenly, going out into the dark felt scary to Kingsley, and his anxiety began to kick in about the minions in the dark. Despite mom’s reassurance and encouragement, he had quickly decided the game was too scary to play. I swooped in, asking Kingsley, “Kingsley, would it make you feel better if you had a flashlight too? So that if a minion beams you with a flashlight, you can beam them back!” He immediately jumped up and exclaimed, “YES!”. Armed with his new flashlight-shield, he headed outside to start the game with a smile on his face. Often times, a small token of reassurance goes a long way with our campers. The combined support from camp staff and parents allow campers to feel that they can do anything at camp, even something they might have shied away from in everyday life.

Camp is magic!

Lilly shared that had a great time at camp and enjoyed everything from the Energizers in the morning to the s’mores at night! Her favorite activity was horseback riding (it was her dad’s first time!) with zip-lining as a close second!

Easter Seals Greater Houston has camps for children, teens, adults, veterans, and families. Learn more about our inclusive camps today!

**In some of the pictures, masks are down/not on. In these cases, they were the only family at the outdoor activity—no other camp families or staff were around. Another family member took the photos.*

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Walk With Me, World!

We were so proud of our efforts – staff, volunteer, client, donor and sponsor alike – through Walk With Me Houston 2020. AND, this year we are so excited to be able to go #hybrid.  Still following all health protocols concerning Covid19 but able to have a limited amount of walkers at the Houston Zoo on April 24th AND unlimited walkers #virtually!

So for 2021, we invite you to: Walk With Me… Choose Your Route!  Walk, Stroll or Roll the Block virtually from now until day of April 24th!

How it works – virtually: We encourage you to register (if you haven’t already) and walk, stroll or roll around your own block daily, weekly and/or on the event day between now and April 24th. Of course, your safety comes first, but we also know that taking in a little bit of sunshine can help all of us during this difficult time!

As you walk, stroll or roll your block, be sure to take photos or videos…or even live stream your experience and use the hashtag #WWM2021 and tag @EasterSealsGreaterHouston then encourage your friends and family to do the same to help support your (or their own) fundraising efforts.

Last year, almost 4,000 people from across the greater Houston community and the world (as far away as Rwanda!) were in attendance. With all of our options – we KNOW you can help us beat that!

Every step you take helps connect veterans, children and adults with all types of disabilities to the services they desperately need. And this year, you can count your active minutes and compete in our competitions too!

How to register:
*If you have already registered as a walker, thank you! And let’s get those steps in!  *All we need is your help with spreading the word about Walk With Me Choose Your Route!
*If you’re new to our Walk With Me community, register as a virtual or on site walker here!

How to encourage your friends to continue to help you in your fundraising efforts:

  • As you walk, stroll or roll your block, be sure to take photos or videos…or even live stream your experience and use the hashtag #WWM2021 and tag @EasterSealsGreaterHouston to encourage your friends and family to do the same to help support your fundraising efforts. You can even create a Facebook fundraiser to make it that much easier (you can do this while in your registered account).
  • Ask friends and family to join your team, create their own teams and challenge their peer networks (Scout troops, Mother’s Day Out, faith communities, volunteer groups and more) to do the same!
  • Click here for an updated email you can send to your friends and family to encourage continued donations to your virtual walker page!

Donate NOW to help us continue our life-changing work!

2020 and 2021 have been hard for everyone; our clients and our staff have accomplished amazing things. Their success is your success! We need your support in helping us reach our $1 million goal NOW MORE THAN EVER BEFORE. Your commitment will help ensure that Easter Seals can continue its mission of providing services for thousands in our greater Houston community living with all types of disabilities each year.

Donate to a walker to support Easter Seals Greater Houston today!

We look forward to seeing your smiling faces – walking, strolling and rolling! Special thanks to our amazing first time and returning sponsors!

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THRIVE-ing in 2021

Is one of your goals for 2021 to budget or to save money? Easter Seals Greater Houston’s THRIVE team is launching an online Zoom financial education class focusing on budgeting and food. In this class we will discuss a wide range of tips and tricks on how to save money at the grocery store including: why creating a budget is important; how to easily work making a grocery list, checking sale ads and coupons to save money into your life; how to navigate grocery store apps; and how you can implement these cash saving tips in your life.

Check out some of the tips we have for saving money! Join our class and get the in depth knowledge by emailing JGaehring@eastersealshouston.org today.

  • Did you know that there are sale cycles on products?
  • Being aware of when and what goes on sale and combining coupons is the secret extreme couponers use
  • Did you know there’s a way to get a Sunday paper for only a $1.00?
  • Did you know there are now manufacture digital coupons or that some grocery stores will match their competitors pricing?
  • Did you know there are certain tricks you can combine to save the most money?
  • Did you know that there are websites that do all the work for you and recommend where to go for best sale and coupon combinations?

We will be going over how to use grocery store apps, sale ads and coupons to your advantage and how planning ahead can save you money. Learn the secrets and tips to save money on your grocery store trips. Please contact Jessika Gaehring at Jgaehring@eastersealshouston.org if you are interested in this class.

Our THRIVE Program aims to help Veterans, those with disabilities, and their caregivers learn how to budget, one-on-one financial coaching, home buyers education classes and help finding a job.

To learn more about Easter Seals Greater Houston programs please contact

Homebuyers Education Classes & One-on-One Financial Coaching – Jenny Lopez-Martinez at JLopez@eastersealshouston.org

One-on-One Financial Coaching and Financial Classes – Jessika Gaehring at Jgaehring@eastersealshouston.org

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Escaping Boredom Together

Even though we are just itching to get to see each other again in person, we are making the most of our time on Zoom! Every week our LEAD Adult Program meets virtually via Zoom with a different activity planned for each meeting. Last week, Kenzie Richard volunteered her time to lead our adults through a Disney World Virtual Escape Room! Our LEADers participated in each challenge to escape Disney World. Some of the challenges were quite hard but when we worked as a team, we were able to get out in just under an hour. Thank you Kenzie for leading us through that fun adventure! Check out this video of our Adult Program participants working together to escape the room and boredom.

Do you have a special activity or program you think our LEAD Adult Program would enjoy? Are you interested in leading us through the activity for 30 minutes or an hour via Zoom? Email Ashley Nichols at ANichols@eastersealshouston.org to learn how you can get involved!

Learn more about Easter Seals Greater Houston’s LEAD (Life Enrichment for Adults with Disabilities) Adult Programs.

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Advance Auto Parts is Advancing Inclusion

Easter Seals Greater Houston, in partnership with Advance Auto Parts, the Easter Seals National office, and the James Emmett Company, has begun a project to recruit persons with disabilities for positions within Advance Auto Parts stores and the distribution center for the Houston region. Advance Auto Parts has a company-wide initiative to increase the number of employees who have disabilities throughout the company. Both full-time and part-time jobs, across all shifts, are available at three Advance Auto Parts stores in Houston and at their parts warehouse in north Houston. Houston is the fourth city in America where Advance has initiated this project. A similar project began in Dallas the same day as the Houston project. Advance has a goal of increasing the number of employees with disabilities in every state in which they have facilities.

Easter Seals staff have reached out to Texas Workforce Solutions (TWS) offices to include them in the partnership through their services for persons with disabilities. TWS can provide equipment an employee may need, job readiness, and job training and job coaching if an employee needs assistance on their job. We have also made information about this initiative available to the Easter Seals Veterans and THRIVE programs.

When a person with a disability wishes to apply for a job with Advance, they should go online to https://www.advanceautoparts.jobs/en-US/page/retail-careers to determine the job(s) for which they wish to apply and contact Robert Williams at RWilliams@eastersealshouston.org to make sure their information is given to the James Emmett Company, which will shepherd their application through the interview process. Persons who apply through this initiative will receive a job interview and extra points toward meeting the requirements for their chosen jobs.

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Hand in Hand Therapies

The following was written by a parent of an Early Childhood Intervention client to Easter Seals Greater Houston’s ECI Director.

Hello I am the parent of “Z” who has been in the Easter Seals Greater Houston’s program about year and half now. Just to provide you with a little background of this little fellow. “Z” has faced with many challenges in his year and half-life but he is a true solider and overcoming slowly.  “Z” was referred by his Pediatrician to Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) Program, because of torticollis at the age of 5 months. He is now 20 months; and he still deals with his “head tilt” from time to time. He was assigned to Melissa for Physical Therapy and from his assessment it indicated he had some developmental delays.  He showed unbelievable progress while working with Melissa over a year and half, which has eased some of my trying times with my little one. “Z” is currently working with several ESGH ECI Therapists

Melissa has been providing therapy with my “Z” the longest and has been a great observer and excellent Physical Therapist provider. Melissa has suggested many things that she felt would help my son such as sensory activities, compression clothes, compression vest for tip-toeing, Wilbarger Brushing for sensory; all of which is helping with my son’s progress. She also suggested I speak with Jinelle about referring my son to Occupational Therapy for behavior issues that stem from sensory input along with Speech Therapy to continue meeting his milestones. Melissa also helped with sending me educational materials, head-tilt strengthening techniques, and showed me strategies to implement daily to help my son with crawling and walking. Most importantly, she educated me on how the 5 stages of developmental milestones are reached and how some delays affect the next milestones when they are not met. Not only allowing me to know that my son is progressing but also in addressing my pediatrician.

The reason for this letter is to let you know how wonderful your team at Easter Seals has been to my family and most importantly to my son “Z”.   I have so much gratitude to Easter Seals and this team of ladies that words can’t explain. Jinelle (Case manager), Thein (Nutritionist), Melissa (PT), Dionise (OT), and Michelle (Speech) are a blessing. This village of a team has improved my son’s ability to function and adapt to the daily challenges he faces with delayed milestones, sensory and speech issues.

Working with the team of therapists, I have learned how all the milestones overlap/connect and how all the therapist’s roles are important, different and needed. Learning from the therapists allowed me to help my son to the fullest. Their knowledge on food selection, hands on activities techniques and being flexible with my work schedule do not go unnoticed. They all love their work, the children they serve, and they are very compassionate to parents concerns and feeling. When times were overwhelming for us, the therapists provide a listening ear while staying professional and never crossing boundaries. It felt good as a parent to have this village of professionals ease my emotions.

This team has been around since day one with my son.  Jinelle has been a great case manager by providing helpful resources, connecting me to the appropriate specialists, providing me access to the weighted vest and sensory brush, and by being able to address other issues.  Jinelle is the glue that holds this team together and the person making sure services are on time.  Thein is awesome for making sure my child has the right nutrients and is staying on track with a healthy diet and weight gain.  She suggests food selections and fluid consumptions for “Z” to help with being underweight, and helps with mapping out mealtime scheduling suggestion for home and daycare.

Dionise and Michelle are new specialists incorporated to “Z”’s treatment services for the past 3 months. Mostly virtual due to #StayAtHome. They were recently able to see “Z” in person for the first time.  The total team is a completion of comfort. The comfort that my child will be able to thrive, and has the potential to maintain and overcome many of the behaviors that have led to sensory overloads and speech delays.  Everything goes hand in hand.  Sensory needs to be under control so “Z” can succeed in his vocabulary words, which will help him in talking and we have incorporated sensory bins into daily life, and pretend play with stuffed animals to help “Z” communicate with non-verbal and verbal cues to extend his communication. We started with 10 words and currently working towards 25 and more.

“Z” has come a long way – we are moving in the right direction but still have work to do.  “Z” took to Dionise the first time he saw her on zoom and even in person so much that he didn’t want her to leave. It was so funny that as we walked her to the door – he was waving bye to ME!  Together we are also working with my son on behavior techniques – less screen time, incorporating compression clothing all day, and weighted vest/blanketed. This team is compassionate, caring, flexible and dedicated to their line of work by providing exceptional hands on/Zoom support through teaching and providing me the knowledge to continue to work with my son through this challenging time.

Since the pandemic and throughout treatment, my son experiences some regression in each individual session but with the help of all therapist working together and keeping each other in the loop, my son has improved meeting milestones. These ladies are not just doing their job they are taking the initiative to go above and beyond for the families they serve while still following protocols of the company.

Without this Easter Seals team and the ECI program, I’m not sure where my son would be. On behalf of my family Thank You!  

Z’s Mom

Early Childhood Intervention services are available to children from birth to three (3) years old that show developmental delay, at risk for delay, or have a disability. Learn more about Easter Seals Greater Houston’s ECI Program today.

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The most important thing about Camp MOST

This wonderful mini success story was written by Camp M.O.S.T. volunteer, Darrell, on his most recent application for virtual Camp M.O.S.T. taking place this month. 

“I’ve had the blessing to experience both in-person and online Camp MOST. Although one might not be ideal as the other, I can’t express how much I’ve enjoyed them both. I’ve learned that what makes Camp MOST special isn’t the location, the ice cream, or the 2 hours of sleep. It’s the campers, the counselors, and the dancing to music like nothing matters that makes Camp MOST special to me. I wouldn’t change a thing about our camp!!”

Easter Seals Greater Houston is so proud to host inclusive and unbelievably fun camps, for kids, teens, and families throughout the year. Learn more about our camps!

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BridgingApps-A Year Like No Other

2020 was a year like no other. Though it had incredible challenges BridgingApps, a program of Easter Seals Greater Houston, worked hard and accomplished so much. BridgingApps includes a websiteapp reviews by therapists and special education teachersa custom app search engineassistive technology labs and training options for parents, organizations and schools.

In 2020, BridgingApps focused on virtual training and were able to serve an incredible amount of clients online. The available research and the success stories the team captured reflects the potential power of using technology and proper training to significantly impact the lives of people with special needs, disabilities, Veterans, older adults, caregivers and more. Check out everything this hardworking and connective program accomplished!

Learn more and get involved with BridgingApps today!

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The ROI of Mentorship

The following story was written by Carmen Phillips. Carmen is the Montgomery County Program Coordinator for Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Ready to Achieve Mentoring Program and High School High Tech.

January 2021 is the 19th annual National Mentoring Month and I can’t help but wonder where we might all be right now without the influence of a mentor.  Imagine, for a moment, a world without Apple Computers, Microsoft or Facebook; a world without Oprah Winfrey, Mother Teresa or even Marlon Brando as the Godfather.  This, my friends is a world without mentors.  Some of the most successful and brilliant minds of the last century had one thing in common.  They all had a mentor.

So, what does it mean to be a mentor?  According to world-renowned speaker and author Bob Proctor, “A mentor is someone who sees more talent and ability within you, than you see in yourself and helps bring it out of you.”  I’m sure many of you can dig deep and think back to a time in your life when you looked up to someone for direction or guidance and approval.   Someone who changed the trajectory of your life.   A coach, a teacher or a boss perhaps.  Or perhaps, like many young people in America you had no one.   Well, you wouldn’t be alone.  More than 1 in 3 young people, an estimated 16 million, never had an adult mentor of any kind while they were growing up, according the national report The Mentoring Effect published in 2014.  This population includes an estimated 9 million at-risk youth who will reach age 19 without ever having a mentor, making them less likely to graduate high school,  go on to college and lead healthy productive lives.

Photo of young adults and mentors

For those 9 million at-risk youth, mentorship is a life-line.  It’s make or break and sadly in some cases, life or death.   It takes one caring adult to take interest and invest just a little bit of time into a young person’s life to forever change its course. Whether it’s a attending a football game, an occasional bowling night, a weekly text or just checking in on their report card, the smallest investment in a youth’s life results in some of the largest gains.  Not only for the youth, but for the mentor and the community in which they live.  In fact, according to a study cited by David Shapiro, President and CEO of MENTOR, every dollar invested in quality youth mentoring programs yields a $3 return in benefits to society at a minimum.  I think it’s safe to say that even Warren Buffet (who, by the way, mentored Microsoft mogul Bill Gates) would consider that a pretty darn good Return On Investment (ROI). 

The Mentoring Effect study also found that 76% of at-risk young adults who had a mentor aspire to enroll in and graduate college and 45% of all at-risk youth with a mentor are now enrolled in some form of postsecondary education. So what do the numbers tell us? That mentoring makes a difference; it improves outcomes, it increases graduation rates, it reduces the risk of drug and alcohol use, it builds healthy interpersonal relationships and fosters measurable success in our at-risk youth in America.  

So, what’s not to love about Mentoring?  If you are interested in helping change the trajectory of a young person’s life and want more information about donating your time, skills or dollars to our at-risk Youth Mentoring Programs here at Easter Seals Greater Houston visit our website at www.EasterSealsHouston.org or reach out to us at 713-838-9050.

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