If you’ve watched one of the viral TED talk videos on YouTube, you know their tag line is “Ideas Worth Spreading.” At Easter Seals of Greater Houston, we also think we have ideas worth spreading and ours are focused on collaboration. Being the recipient of a 2016 Texas Veteran + Family Alliance (TV + FA) grant, our goal is to improve the quality of life for Texas Veterans and their families. By working hand in hand with proven Veteran Service Organizations, we are able to have an exponential impact on the community.
We decided to have two large Convenings that would allow us to improve the communication and collaboration of mental health and supportive service in the greater Houston area. Our first convening included Veteran Service Organizations, Mental Health professionals, Veterans and Corporate Partners. This diverse group was chosen so we could demonstrate to all the groups how each one was a vital part of the solution. The event featured an amazing singer for the anthem, Game Show style vignettes to introduce language and culture, break-out sessions that included using technology and apps, features for our partners, nationally recognized speaker COL (ret) David Sutherland of The Dixon Center and a catered lunch.
The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive and there have only been two looming questions for Easter Seals of Greater Houston: When is the next one and can we make the event longer? It seems we have found some great ideas worth sharing and we are truly changing the way that everyone views mental health and veterans services. Our next Convening will be June 13th at Combined Arms. We invite all greater Houston corporations and businesses interested in supporting veterans to join us at the Convening and learn how hiring Veterans could be amazing for your business! Please contact Tim Stroud at TStroud@eastersealshouston.org or 713-838-9050 for more information.
Tim Stroud, Easter Seals Greater Houston, Veteran Initiative Coordinator
Celebrate May as Better Hearing and Speech Month. Concerned? Wondering if your baby is meeting her milestones?
Our Children’s Therapy Program is here to help. You can also check out our Ages & Stages Questionnaire on a regular basis!
Camp MOST (Miles of Smiles for Teens) is Easter Seals Greater Houston’s three-day overnight retreat for teens with cerebral palsy. Camp MOST and Easter Seals’ Transition Program teamed up to create four jam sessions, group sessions for learning and reflection. The four topics covered self esteem; understanding realistic vs. unrealistic expectations and exploring options; conflicts and setbacks; and envisioning the future. Great group chats were had, and they didn’t stop when the sessions ended- you could hear the teens still talking about the topics around the table at mealtimes!
Ever wonder who our Camp MOST teens are or what they’re like? Here’s a glimpse, in their own words:
What are you good at?
- Writing & reading
- Making friends
- Art & being sassy
- Swimming & running
- Making conversation
- Expressing my opinion
- Riding horses
- Video games
- Making people laugh
What are your goals and ambitions?
- Get stronger physically
- Lower my school stress
- Be the best person I can be
- Publish a book
- Continue to go to school and work
- Work hard in school
- Go to college and move out
- Finish college
- Express myself
- Do well at Rodeo
- Transfer to a 4 year college, get a degree, and become a web designer
- Walk across the stage at graduation (from a camper who uses a wheelchair)
What makes you strong?
- My spirit to get back up
- My kindness
- Having a good heart
- Being myself
- The people who love me
- My work ethic
- My sense of humor
- The support and encouragement I get from friends on social media
My future is bright because…
- I’m going to try my best in life
- I’ll be graduating soon
- I do amazing at school
- My positive attitude
- My family and friends support me
- I’m me
- I’m talented
- I’m going to prom with a pretty girl
- I work hard, I don’t give up, and I don’t feel sorry for myself
Special thanks to Jacquelyn Miller, Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Ready to Achieve Mentoring Program (RAMP) Coordinator/Transition Coordinator, for adapting the curriculum for Camp MOST, and to Amy Burgdorf for facilitating the jam sessions.
The following letter was written by a parent of an Early Childhood Intervention Program client. Easter Seals Greater Houston’s ECI Program helps children ages birth to 36 months with disabilities and developmental delays achieve their goals in cognitive, social/emotional, communicative, adaptive and physical development.
My name is Camille and my son Justus was a client of the ECI program of Easter Seals Greater Houston.
The team of Ms. Phyllis, Ms. Frances, Ms. Nicole, Ms. Atra, Mr. Jesus, Ms. Jennifer, Ms. Christy, Mr. Ben. Ms. Thien and Ms. Chelsea went above and beyond. The impact that their professionalism and care of my son while he was in the program cannot adequately be expressed in words. Justus’ ability to walk, to speak, to feed himself, to comprehend simple commands, even to socialize with others is a direct reflection of the efforts of the team assigned to him and I could not have been more blessed to have interacted with them – a blessing truly.
Justus is now going through the process of getting screened by Lamar Consolidated ISD. The persons conducting the evaluation are very pleased by what he demonstrates and they attribute his increased abilities to the great care provided by the Easter Seals Greater Houston Early Childhood Intervention team in which he was under.
Please pass this thank you on to them and let them know how much they mean to the clients they serve. I do not have any resources to adequately thank them for all that they did for Justus and myself. If there is an award or a recognition, please put each of them in for it – they all truly deserve it for they are God’s angels serving on earth today.
Thank you and have a great day!
Camille, Early Childhood Intervention Program client parent, Easter Seals Greater Houston
Usually I write about a person who was helped by the services I provide through Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Veterans Program. This time I’m going to do that with a twist, so let me tell you the story. Years ago I met a Marine and after this initial meeting our paths diverged for a long time. About a year ago, our paths crossed again at a Marine Corps birthday celebration in Houston and I learned he was a County Veterans Service Officer. After catching up we discovered that we both worked in the Veteran community to reduce the stigma around mental health, providing services to Veterans and their family members. Though our services are different, they both aim to end the suffering in silence of so many Veterans. Over this year, we have discussed all these things and one thing was clear-we have the same mission. A partnership was born that extends to the many Veterans we meet each week.
You might think this is just a story about two people in the community working together to help Veterans, but it isn’t. Yes, we benefit from the collaboration because of the confidence and trust that is shared between us. I know he will work hard and go the extra mile to help those I refer to him. He knows this of me too. Yet, the most important part of our meeting is how our complimentary services have benefited those that have served and their families. He most often refers individuals who have suffered in silence for years due to experiences from their service. Most often it is combat related. He tells them how things can get better and how they can feel better. He offers hope from someone who has been there. He helps connect them to the services they need. And they get better. When they come to our Veterans Program I give them information about what they are dealing with, the sense of isolation reduces, they feel the support, more things seem possible, and more gets done. I tell them, “You didn’t get here by yourself, so build a unit that will help you get out of this.” Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Veterans Program can be part of that unit. A County Veterans Service Officer is part of my unit. And we press forward . . . offering hope and services to those who want them and who no longer want to suffer alone.
Dr. Cristy Gamez-Galka, Mental Health Lead for Fort Bend Veterans Case Management Program, Easter Seals Greater Houston
Easter Seals Greater Houston is proud to offer a variety of services that Veterans and their families can benefit from including Fort Bend Veterans Case Management Program, Fort Bend Veterans Companion Dog Program, Bank On Montgomery County as well as the collaborative efforts of the Texas Veterans + Family Alliance.
The following post was written by a clients mother:
My daughter is 5 years old and diagnosed with a rare disease that causes vision impairment, epilepsy, low muscle tone and developmental delays. Her name is Aubrey and she is diagnosed with a mutation of the DNM1 gene. Her condition was undiagnosed for the first three years of her life. We initially received state sponsored physical, occupational and speech therapy. We also sought private therapy through a local hospital. Aubrey made extremely slow but steady progress. She could not sit unassisted or maintain weight on her legs. I spent time researching therapy and staying connected with families that have children with similar conditions. I was told about TheraSuit therapy by a family in Australia. Their children benefited from this intensive therapy. I then asked Aubrey’s health providers about the specialized physical therapy. I was put in contact with a local family that had a great experience with Easter Seals Greater Houston.
I contacted Easter Seals Greater Houston and the staff member was extremely helpful in determining that Aubrey was eligible for services. I applied for financial help from a local charity organization and Aubrey was gifted a six week session of intensive physical therapy with Easter Seals Greater Houston‘s Children’s Therapy Program. Her progress was amazing. After the intensive therapy sessions ended we continued her treatment at Easter Seals. She is currently enrolled in Physical, Occupational and speech/feeding therapies with NDT certified therapists. She has made phenomenal progress. Easter Seals therapists have assisted us in finding equipment and adaptive toys through their ToyTech resource to help her. We are excited to see what the future holds for Aubrey and thank the special people that work with her weekly at Easter Seals Greater Houston.
Angela, Children’s Therapy Program parent, Easter Seals Greater Houston
“We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” – E.M. Forster
To refer a child or for further information regarding the Children’s Therapy Program please call 713-838-9050 ext 381
Thanks to Easter Seals Greater Houston and Hilton Hotel of America, Downtown Houston – my husband and I enjoyed the gift of time together and a break from home, where we could recharge ourselves. Living in a disabled family, although rewarding, is full of extreme ups and downs that can be excessively stressful at times. Around the clock duty as a care taker to our adult son with autism and co-occurring disabilities means that time away is a chance to unwind, have some much needed down time and also return ready to take on another day. We really appreciated that Easter Seals Greater Houston Respite Program gives us the chance to get away from home, but be close enough in case of emergencies. We enjoyed our trip to The Houston Galleria to prepare for the holidays and were spoiled with deliciously prepared breakfasts.
Easter Seals Greater Houston has been a constant support in our lives for our son. Not only with the Respite Program, but when he was younger and attended Family Day Out on Saturdays once a month and of course the much anticipated Camp Buckaroo in the summer. Before the location in The Woodlands started, we would drive over an hour each way into Houston for camp, it was worth the chance to have our son engaged and stimulated in a safe environment for a few days during the summer break.
Thank you for the opportunity to enjoy this time especially during the hectic holiday season. We were so happy and care free for a couple of days – and this opportunity could not have come at a more needed time.
We appreciate Easter Seals Greater Houston, love the Hilton of Americas and are thankful for all you do for the disabled community and care takers.
Nicole and Darrel, Respite Services clients, Easter Seals Greater Houston