“Each Monday and Wednesday are a certain kind of special to me, as I get to hang out with our LEAD (Life Enrichment for Adults with Disabilities) Adult Programs at Easter Seals Greater Houston. We have two programs based on age: 18 – 30-year-olds and 30+-year-olds. In the morning, we have 20 young adults who get together to socialize, dance, craft, exercise, and sing. Is there a better way to start your morning? I am lucky enough to get to watch these newly graduated young adults find themselves in their community. We intentionally include outside Zumba and yoga teachers, so our adults have more opportunities to interact with new faces and make new friends. Once a month, we are beginning to include a therapy dog group called Believe in Dog Therapy. Boy oh boy, was I unprepared for the giggles, new conversations and bonding opportunities that these dogs gave to our young adults last month. These dogs provided chances for stress-free conversations, sensory time with their fur and licks, as well as practicing turn-taking and gentle touches, all of which our adults can struggle with on a daily basis. This past week, during dog therapy, we re-cycled old t-shirts and jeans to make dog toys for a local shelter called Houston Pets Alive. Again, how lucky am I? Houston Pets Alive is pretty excited too. Stay tuned for more pics of the group making the toys and donating them!
If you want to join in on the fun by volunteering with us, please contact me: Ashley Nichols – ANichols@eastersealshouston.org”
Believe in Dog Therapy’s Website: https://believeindogtherapy.com/
Ashley Nichols, Program Coordinator, Easter Seals Greater Houston
Last Spring, Sam transitioned from using a limited auditory scanning device to a device with unlimited app-based software using auditory scanning to communicate!
Many of the parents who have come to Easter Seals Greater Houstons’ The Caroline School have done so out of a desire to find a more individualized education for their child – a school that would focus on the whole child, their physical, social, and cognitive development.
That’s exactly what Samantha’s family found. Sam began at The Caroline School a year ago and since has embarked on many educational changes. She worked on her physical skills by using her stander in the classroom and engaging in yoga stretches with support. She focused on her social skills by using both non-verbal gestures (smiles and singing), as well as her new communication device to share love and joy with her friends and teachers. Working on the physical and social aspects of learning, perfectly positioned Sam to grow her cognitive skill set as well! She used her new communication device to engage in lessons and home-to-school connection questions and activities. For example, she completed an “All About Me” project to share with the class.
Sam’s collective team of teachers, parents, ESGH therapists and nurses are so proud of her hard work! We can’t wait to begin her Senior year here at The Caroline School! It will surely be the best year yet.
Tabitha Hernandez, Easter Seals Greater Houston, The Caroline School Director
I’m Emily Padora and I have been interning with Easter Seals Greater Houston for the past few months. I am supervised by Ashley Nichols, the Adult Program Director, which means I get the privilege of hanging out with these wonderful adults twice a week. Just last Saturday, I got to go bowling with a few of them! I expected it to be fun, as most things are with these guys, but it was more than just fun— it was heartwarming.
Each participant got their own lane, with accommodations based off their individual needs, to bowl for as long as their hearts desired until it was time to go. I loved seeing how happy just a simple game of bowling made the participants and enjoyed watching them make strikes, splits, or just celebrating hitting a pin. It was truly something else. I also got to speak with the mother and sister of two of our participants; they were sharing with me how much they appreciate what Easter Seals and the Adult Program has done for them and their family. The mother was almost in tears, expressing to me that most people outside of this organization and program don’t pay much attention to her boys. It makes me happy and proud to be working with an organization and program that promotes growth and encourages inclusion and individuality.
Emily Padora, Easter Seals Greater Houston Intern
My name is Amanda Carter and I am a 2008 alumni of Easter Seals Greater Houston Camp Smiles Overnight Camp. I started attending Camp Smiles held at Camp For All in Brenham in the summer of 2001 after having attended Easter Seals Houston’s Camp Buckaroo day camp. After a little case of homesickness, I grew to love going to camp and the people I met while there. My favorite activity was the photography class I took every year it was offered where I became heavily involved in my current hobby of severe weather photography. I am still friends on Facebook with all of my camp “buddies,” without whom I could not have had nearly as much fun and laughed quite as hard. I also keep in touch with several of my fellow campers and they have become a great source of mentorship in regard to learning how to live independently.
I landed in Lubbock with the help of my parents and full time staff of personal care attendants after earning my Psychology degree at University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas. Going to Texas Tech has always been a huge dream and having an opportunity to go there to get my law degree was practically nerdy nirvana. Going to law school requires a huge emotional support system; going to law school from a power wheelchair requires an army. There were many challenges, including hiring and firing many attendants, calling Mom and Dad to fill those attendants gaps, and calling friends and sorority sisters to cry about those dreaded classes, that were part of that journey. To my relief I made it to May of 2018 and became the fourth generation in my family to graduate as a Red Raider.
Since that time, I’ve landed at Matthew Harris Law in Lubbock after passing the July 2018 Bar Exam. I am currently practicing Family Law but I simultaneously maintain an interest in Special Needs Wills and Trusts and generally helping those like me find their path towards financial and physical independence. MHL has made a donation in my honor to Easter Seals of Greater Houston and that is so special! We collectively strive to present a model of employer-employee relations as it relates to working with community of people with disabilities. I have felt so welcomed in the firm where I started as an intern. Now as an attorney, I have learned so much about the law and myself through the accommodation and acceptance of my coworkers. Being successful starts with who you surround yourself with and, more importantly, how you define it. Only your definition matters. I am so excited to see where your definition takes you! Guns Up!
Amanda E. Carter, Esq.
Attorney at Law
Four years of college flew by before I even knew what hit me. There I was, a month or two away from graduating and still had no idea where I wanted to go, what I wanted to do or where I would fit in as a Recreational Therapist. Coming from a small border town, I knew that there was so much to explore in life and the options were endless but I had no idea where to start. I frantically looked for jobs close to home but every lead I found seemed to discourage me more and more each time. Finally, I threw in the towel and asked my academic supervisor to point me in the right direction. With a list of names and interview times in hand, I headed six hours away to Houston.
After a few interviews and internship position offers, I had twice as much confusion and disappointment because I knew that I had not found where I was supposed to be just yet. I showed up to my last interview with Easter Seals Greater Houston expecting to have the same experience, but had no idea what truly was in store for me. After sitting in an interview with my current supervisor, Ashley Nichols, for around two hours, I had finally found the perfect internship experience and wholeheartedly knew that I had found my place with the Easter Seals Greater Houston Adult Services Program.
The options for personal and professional growth that were placed in front of me here at Easter Seals is exactly what I had given up hope in looking for at other agencies. Being able to shadow Ashley, who is a master networking guru, has been a priceless experience in itself because I had the opportunity be connected with various people in the community. She taught me how to build professional relationships and to seize opportunities when you have them. Aside from that, Ashley provided outstanding guidance that has helped me grow tremendously as an individual and a professional. Through Adult Programming, I had the perfect experience in regards to recreational therapy in the aspect that I was able to work within multiple populations, which is almost unheard of as an intern. In the office, I was constantly surrounded by support, opportunities and some of the most invaluable people I have ever met. I had moved six hours away and was a little scared, yet I was never alone. I always had someone who made sure that I was adjusting okay to such a large change in life. To work in an environment where everyone is so warm and supportive of each other’s ideas and individual growth is sadly unusual in a workplace and in my opinion, is what makes the Easter Seals Greater Houston special to so many people. I know that no matter where I go or what I do in the years to come, the memories and people I have met through the Easter Seals has shaped who I am and will never fade out.
Morgan Stidham, Easter Seals Greater Houston, Adult Services
For more information on our Adult Services Program – Click Here
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
You can hear the ball rolling down the alley, the pins fall, and a cheer from a group of friends. They are frequent visitors of AMF Windern Lanes, meeting up at the lanes on most 1st and 3rd Saturdays of the month throughout the year. Adult Bowling is a great tradition being upheld by a special group of Easter Seals Greater Houston‘s Adult Program, one that is rare and highly valued by both participants and volunteers.
Across the United States, especially in Texas, services for individuals with disabilities are shockingly sparse once they turn 18. Easter Seals Greater Houston recognized this need and created opportunities for adults with disabilities to live, learn, work and play in our community. Easter Seals Greater Houston offers two Adult Programs on Mondays and Wednesdays. These programs are free to the adults and offer activities such as yoga, painting, self defense, crafts, cooking, field trips, sporting events, and much more! Another popular program is Easter Seals Greater Houston‘s Adult Bowling Program that allows for program partipants to play 3 games for only $5. These Saturdays offer them another opportunity to connect to one another and the community. The Adult Bowling Program is equally loved by our incredible volunteers.
One of our great volunteers shares that:
“Being able to put a smile on our adult client’s faces is so rewarding. Bowling and a social outing is something they do not get to do regularly, and knowing that I am making their day better by helping them bowl, be out in the community, seeing friends is such a great feeling. Our clients are so happy when they are done bowling, and they are what make this project so fun for me. I love seeing how excited my friends get when they get a strike or how competitive they can be when bowling with their friends. My favorite memory from bowling is when Robert almost got a turkey (3 strikes in a row). He was so excited, and I loved knowing that I had contributed to his happiness. Easter Seals Greater Houston Adult Bowling Program on Saturdays is such an easy way to make a difference in someone else’s life and such a fun way to spend my Saturday.”
If you are interested in partipating in or volunteering for our Adult Bowling Program, please contact Donald LeMoine at 713-838-9050 ext. 310 or at email@example.com.
Sara Padon, Easter Seals Greater Houston, Adult Bowling Program Volunteer