What the Snap?

Ethan, one of our Easter Seals Houston 2018 Summer Camp Interns, has been Denium’s counselor for the past two years. Before that, they had been in the same cabin. Over the three years, they built an amazing bond that helped both of them grow in a way that will forever be remembered. Sadly, camp does not last forever. At Camp Smiles, campers graduate when they are 14 years old. The graduation ceremony is always a very emotional time, as counselors who have been with their campers for years, give a speech to say farewell to some of the most impactful people in their lives. There is rarely a dry eye in the audience. Here is the speech Ethan gave to Denium as he was graduating:

You have been a part of my life I will never forget. From the countless catch phrases such as “ooooooh you got a girlfrieeeend” to nicknaming Pablo as Pappadeux, your humor is a gift that will be remembered by all.

This is our second year together. Imagining a camp experience without you is just strange to me. While your presence overall is unforgettable, there are some specific instances that are especially amazing. Two years ago, we had a very emotional day together. We were outside of the art barn, and I decided to sneak up on you and pop a wheelie as a joke. Little did I know, you were already in an irritable mood because of something that had just happened. As soon as I did that, you reached back and swatted at me. My popping a wheelie with you was the tip of your iceberg. You were very upset. We got back to the cabin and the other counselors and I insist that you apologize. After a while, our friend, Lee, took you to the bathroom so y’all could have a talk about it and calm down. What happened next is something that will never fail to make my heart melt. I remember you coming in, looking very sad. You came up to me and said something very softly, too softly to hear. I ask what you said. You took a moment to collect yourself. Then, you pulled me in as tight as you could and profusely apologized to me and told me how sad you were. Never in my life have I experienced such raw sincerity. While you were crying and apologizing, I began to cry as well as I realized how sincere and caring of a person you truly are.

After a couple of years with you, I’ve noticed some changes in your personality. For one, during your first year, you were completely repulsed by the idea of interacting with the icky icky girls. Now this year, you can’t stay away from them. You went from poking fun at Lee for having a girlfriend by saying “oooooh, you got a girlfriend” every time Sophie walked by. Now, you proudly announce to your whole cabin that you indeed do “have a girlfriend”.

On a more serious note, the change that I have been most proud to witness is how much more open you’ve been with your caring personality. Spending time with you has given me the unique opportunity to experience not only the hilariously wild side of you that I call “what the snap Denium” but also the sweet and tender side of you. The side of you that holds Jacoby with care. The side that is well beyond content while tickling and smiling at Niko. It has been very impactful on me and has made me so happy. I’m so proud that I got to see you interact with the little ones so well.  The way you interact with the little ones has made everyone who has been around you smile. The way you interact with Niko and Jacoby shows a new side of you that makes me so so proud. You are truly beyond your years with the way you patiently interact with these kids.

Camp has been a huge part of my life. I tell everyone I meet that there is nothing more I look forward to than this particular week. Every time I envision future camp experiences, I still picture you being a part of them. You’re an important part of this community we have and will be missed dearly.

I know that as you move on in life, you will continue to make others happy. Whether it be through your humor, or your humongous caring heart, you will make the lives of so many people much brighter. I hope that we keep in touch so that when I have kids one day, you can make them smile.

Ethan, Summer Camp Intern, Easter Seals Greater Houston

 

 

 

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Transition and Technology

Chris is a young man in his 20’s who came to Easter Seals Greater Houston‘s BridgingApps program because of his interest in technology. He and his mother wanted to understand how he could use his mobile device to help him be more productive and organized as he began to search for a job.  He owned a smart phone, but his phone was quite old and he didn’t use it for more than the basics, mostly entertainment. Part of the barrier to using his smart phone effectively was that he experienced anxiety about draining the battery, so he preferred to have it plugged into the wall, limiting his mobility.Transition1

Through a generous grant from the Hogg Foundation, BridgingApps provided Chris with a new smart phone and “one on one” trainings with Digital Learning Specialist, Tara Rocha.  During one of these sessions, Tara introduced the concept of a using portable rechargeable battery pack to Chris. Because it is small and rechargeable, Chris learned to plug his smart phone into this device that eased his anxiety about draining his battery, allowing him to be more mobile immediately.  He learned how to create calendar appointments, add items to task lists, back up his data, use contacts, and much more. Following each session, Chris has practiced the tasks at home with an at-home assignment.

Transition2When Tara demonstrated several app options for filling out forms using his smart phone, Chris became so excited that he could complete this task digitally! He found it difficult and laborious to fill out forms required for job searches and other kinds of forms as he moves into adulthood. Writing has been a challenge for him, but he is much more eager to use his phone for this task. We wish Chris the best of luck as he continues his job search, and we will continue to keep in touch as he makes progress towards his goals.

Cristen Reat, BridgingApps
Easter Seals Greater Houston
https://www.bridgingapps.org/2018/05/chriss-success-story-using-iphone-transition/

 

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Breaking the Language Barrier

IMG_0522The following was written by our School Director about Yousif, a student that is thriving thanks to the individualized education he receives at Easter Seals Greater Houston’s the Caroline School.

Yousif is such a joy to have in the Caroline School. At the beginning of the school year he was very shy and did not speak much, as he is an English language learner. As the year went on, his language skills improved and he was able to say all the names of his peers and his teachers, as well as asking questions and telling stories every one could understand. He also built great relationships with his classmates, enjoying pretend play and coloring with them. We are so proud of your communication progress, Yousif!

Tabitha Hernandez, The Caroline School Director, Easter Seals Greater Houston

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The Caroline School is now enrolling for the 2018-2019 school year. Join this incredible community focused on helping students of all ability levels ages 0-21 reach their highest potential. Our School Director, Tabitha Hernandez, would love to share with you the resources and opportunities your child would have at The Caroline School. Please feel free to contact her at 713-838-9050 ext. 362 or THernandez@eastersealshouston.org. You can also learn more at www.CarolineSchool.org.

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Earning a Home Sweet Home

Clients attending Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Homebuyer Education Classes often ask what is the key to success in purchasing a home.  As part of our curriculum, we go over the importance of credit, manageable debt, and household assets, but perhaps the answer is much more simple – PERSEVERANCE!!!

HOYO success storyA few weeks ago, a single mother of six young daughters purchased a home in Montgomery County – her first home- after over a year and a half of working hard to improve her credit, paying down her debts, and increasing assets.  This hardworking mother, Ashlee, took on a second job as a home health professional and began building up a savings account towards a down payment.  On April 30, at 5:00 pm, she signed the closing disclosure, collected her keys, and walked out of closing as a homeowner.  At times, her goal had seemed impossible, but she persevered and now she lives down the street from one of her clients and they are now making this house their HOME.

Easter Seals Greater Houston offers Credit Boot Camp, Homebuyer Education Classes, Individual Financial Coaching and more!

Katy Thorstenberg, Home of Your Own Montgomery County Home Fund Program, Easter Seals Greater Houston

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Family and Therapists Team Up

The following post was written by the parent of an Early Childhood Intervention Infant Program client who receives services in the Brazos Valley.

DSC_0023We’d like to explain what Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Brazos Valley Early Childhood Intervention Infant Program has meant to us, our lives, and more than anything, our daughter. Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Early Childhood Intervention Infant Program has transformed the behavior of our daughter in a positive manner through the weekly therapy sessions. Easter Seals Greater Houston’s ECI Infant Program came into our lives to help us and have been the perfect tool to help our daughter with speech/language & behavior therapy.

When our daughter turned 2 years of age, her pediatrician led us to Easter Seals Greater Houston because there was a delay in in her speech. Easter Seals’ ECI Infant Program staff members came and ran a full evaluation and afterwards we started the therapy sessions with no clue how incredibly helpful they would be to our child. As the months passed on we noticed great changes in our daughter’s speech/language and in her behavior. Before the therapy sessions she hardly paid attention, but by making this a key area of focus we have seen great, positive improvements in this area and others. We started to work hand in hand with the therapists in our parental role. All the dedicated time was well worth all the positive changes we see in our daughter today. The Brazos Valley ECI Infant Program therapists have not only helped us with the problem areas, but understand why and how they came to be, all the while treating us with respect. We are appreciative as parents for not only the treatments, but the care and effort to reach all goals with her. As of today, our daughter’s vocabulary has increased substantially, she makes basic sentences, pays (more) attention, has calmed down overall, and our entire family has noticed the progress that our daughter has made since she began working with our therapists.

We appreciate Easter Seals Greater Houston from the bottom of our heart, the beautiful work and care for all the families with whom you work with, starting with ours. The Brazos Valley ECI Infant Program staff have gone above and beyond for the well-being of our daughter. Thanks to Easter Seals our lives have changed for the better.

Sincerely,

Marquez Nevarez Family, Brazos Valley Early Childhood Intervention Infant Program family, Easter Seals Greater Houston

Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Early Childhood Intervention Infant Program has expanded and is now available in 12 counties. If you have concerns or questions about your child’s development, please call 713.838.9050, ext. 385 and request a free developmental assessment.

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Gaining Independence

The following was written by the mother of an Early Childhood Intervention Infant Program client.

IMG_0433I am happy to share our successful journey with Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Early Childhood Intervention Infant Program in Brazos Valley in hopes that it can inspire and encourage someone out there who is struggling like we did.

Sebastian is the most wonderful gift life has given us; he was born unexpectedly at 29 weeks weighing 3.4 lb and 14”.  A few days after his birth he suffered a ‘head bleed Level 2’ (Intraventricular hemorrhage) that ‘resolved’ but left some scarring in the brain. Some of the health issues related to a head bleed level 2 and the brain scarring include: seizures, motor skills delays and/or disabilities, cognitive disabilities, ADHD, developmental delays and physical disabilities.

IMG_0238Sebastian began seeing a Developmental specialist at four months old. After a few appointments it was clear he was falling behind in all different areas of development. He was not holding his head unattended at 5 months. He was not sitting unassisted at 8 months. He had a lot of trouble eating baby food when the time came to introduce it to him.  The developmental specialist suggested we get in touch with Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Early Childhood Intervention Infant Program right away. The ECI assessment confirmed that Sebastian was behind in several areas and needed help so they promptly began Physical and Speech therapy.

IMG_1241I can honestly say that the Easter Seals Greater Houston ECI Infant Program changed our lives in a positive, miraculous way. Both the speech and physical therapists helped Sebastian to be able to sit unattended, start crawling, stand and sit unattended, crab walk, use his upper lip and tongue in a correct manner to allow the food to pass, eat different textured food and different food choices as he moved from puréed food to regular food, eat independently without my assistance, drink from a sippy cup, and to use utensils and not just hands. Sebastian is currently learning to walk, to drink from a straw, and is learning words like mama, papa, and other names for objects and animals!

IMG_1423In addition to their hands on, patient and positive approach towards Sebastian, the ECI therapists have educated and reassured me as well. They have helped me gain confidence in myself as a parent and in my son and his incredible resilience. As a first time mother and the mother of a premature baby, I have had many moments of uncertainty and even despair, but the therapy sessions with Sebastian have proven that with the right help a kid can overcome any obstacle and thrive in life. He adores his therapists and their positive, fun and caring sessions.

Sebastian spent the first few months of his life struggling in some way or another, after their wonderful intervention, I can absolutely see the change in him. Sebastian is quickly catching up with all the other full term toddlers and I am confident that he will reach all of his milestones in time from now on.

Jannet Daniela Hernandez, Early Childhood Intervention Infant Program parent, Easter Seals Greater Houston

If you have concerns or questions about your child’s development, please call 713.838.9050, ext. 385 and request a free developmental assessment.

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Nothing “Dull” About Camp

Easter Seals Greater Houston hosts several camps throughout the Greater Houston area and at Camp For All in Burton, Texas every summer. These camps serve children with disabilities, some of which are medically fragile, and their siblings. The days are filled with inclusive, accessible activities that all the children and volunteers enjoy. The following was written by one of our amazing 2018 summer camp interns.

ConleeHi my name is Conlee Dull and I go to Memorial High School. This will be my 5th year volunteering with Easter Seals Greater Houston specifically their summer Camps and Recreation Program. I think by far one of my favorite memories from camp is the first time I ever gave a camper an award. Just to see the smile light up on their face and how proud their family was honestly made everything I did with my camper even more rewarding. Through volunteering I have learned that people with disabilities are the same as any other kids and they just want to have a good time without being judged just as any other kid would. Through volunteering with Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Camp and Recreation Program I have really developed a passion of working with people with special needs and I can’t wait to see how much it grows this summer when I intern!

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Conlee Dull, Summer Camps and Recreation Intern, Easter Seals Greater Houston

 

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