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Our Newest Avril “Rock Stars”!

This past weekend, Easter Seals Grater Houston held its third installment of our teen camp, CamDSCF4708p MOST (Miles of Smiles for Teens) with the help of Randalls Food Market, The Avril Lavigne Foundation and United Way of Greater Houston. It has been such an incredible experience to be a part of the birth of this new opportunity for teenagers. Some of the campers who have attended one of the weekend retreats had been removed from the camp scene for a few years since their graduation from Camp Smiles (our week-long overnight camp) at age 14, so they have loved getting back to camp, seeing old friends and enjoying some teen time.

Camp MOST along with our program, Social Motion Skills, is all about encouraging the teens along in their transition from childhood to adulthood and supporting them through this challenging time of life. High school is tough enough for any teenager, and when you bring a disability into the mix, it adds a whole other dimension to the puzzle. At Camp MOST, the teens find a support group among each other and are able to talk about what it’s like to be a teenager with a disability, how they navigate their high school, and share advice about how to teach and interact with their peers about disabilities in a positive way. In the future, DSCF4551we hope to add an element to camp that touches on transition from high school to post secondary life like our High School High Tech Program – meaning college, employment, vocational school, etc. We want to encourage the teens to become self advocates and learn how to get the most out of their life! We hope to accomplish this by stressing the development of relationships, natural supports, personal expectations, community involvement, social skills and self-determination – all key components of Social Motion Skills.

It’s amazing to watch these campers who once were young nervous little kids, arrive at camp and check themselves in, turn in all of their medication and explain what each of them is for, and explain their own personal care needs to the volunteers. They are really learning to be self advocates and understand how to take responsibility for themselves. I also love watching the campers develop true friendships among one another. They all exchange contact information with each other at camp and many stay in touch and become great friends! They really are each other’s best support because no one knows what it’s like to be in their shoes except for them.  I love that Camp MDSCF4664OST helps the campers find and connect with people who understand them and can relate to their life experiences. Not to mention, it’s a great place for these teens to escape for a weekend and just let loose and have fun!

I hope that Camp MOST continues to grow and encourage teens through their high school years. It is definitely my dream to see some of these campers come back in the future as mentors to the new campers! Between the community support, MOST, Social Motion Skills and High School High Tech, we hope the community sees the importance of giving teens with disabilities a chance – they can excel at school, go on to college and be gainfully employed. We can’t do it without support both monetarily and volunteer based. Please consider making a gift, serving as a volunteer or asking your company to be a host site for our high school program.

Here’s a little taste of the success we see – C has been attending our children’s camp since he was 7 years old.  Every year at our children’s camp, he refused to do the high ropes course.  Now 14, C saw being at teen camp as a rite of passage and as an opportunity to challenge himself and step outside of his comfort zone.  So, C got up to the top of the high ropes course (nearly 3 stories high!), and then flew back down via the zip line.  C screamed and beamed all the way down, and at the end of it exclaimed, “Check it out, I did it!”

By Betsy Keane, Camp Coordinator, Easter Seals Greater Houston

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ESGH Rockstars Celebrate Avril Lavigne Rockstar Club

The Avril Lavigne Foundation Brings Fun to Kids & Youth with Disabilities
(Los Angeles, January 25, 2012) – The Avril Lavigne Foundation announced the expansion of the Avril Lavigne Rockstar Clubs at Easter Seals into 10 markets in the U.S. and Canada to support much-needed recreational programming for kids and youth with disabilities to just be kids, explore their talents, make friends and have fun.lavigne

All North American Easter Seals affiliates were invited to apply for an Avril Lavigne Rockstar Club at Easter Seals grant. Following a review of the applicants, award-winning singer/songwriter and philanthropist Avril Lavigne selected ten Easter Seals grant recipients located in Los Angeles, California; Houston, Texas; Great Falls, Montana; Chicago, Illinois; Honolulu, Hawaii; Las Vegas, Nevada; Seattle, Washington; Youngstown, Ohio; Miami, Florida; and Alberta, Canada.

The selection was based on their overall impact and embodiment of the Avril Lavigne Foundation’s R.O.C.K.S. mission:  to provide Respect, Opportunity, Choices, Knowledge, and Strength to children and youth living with serious illnesses or disabilities.
Avril Rockstar Club Map
“It was really tough to pick the final ten,” said Lavigne. “I was so inspired by the creativity of everyone who applied and the exciting range of opportunities the Easter Seals affiliates presented. I have seen first-hand from my work with Easter Seals how important recreation programs are for kids with disabilities. My goal is to help bring more resources to these great programs which are often the first to experience budget cuts.”

Winning programs include overnight camp scholarships, a cooking/ life skills camp; social skills classes, an equestrian camp and a sibling support group; dance therapy classes; youth services programs including community outings and field trips for teens, a multi-sensory learning camp, a program to connect teens with disabilities with other kids in their community, and an adaptive bikes program. To learn more, please visit The Avril Lavigne Foundation website: www.theavrillavignefoundation.org.

“We’re so lucky to have such an incredible partner in Avril and The Avril Lavigne Foundation. She cares deeply about making sure kids and young people with disabilities have every opportunity to live life to the fullest, pursue their dreams, and find happiness. She’s also passionate about sharing a message of inclusion, that kids and young people with disabilities want to laugh, have fun with their friends, and just fit in – like all of us,” says James E. Williams, Jr., President and Chief Executive Officer, Easter Seals. “We also know when it comes to Easter Seals, Avril was most inspired by our recreational programming – services where kids and teens with disabilities can just be kids through social events, music, theater, sports, arts, leisure time, hobbies, getting out in the community and camp. That’s what The Avril Lavigne Rockstar Club at Easter Seals is all about.”

About Avril Lavigne
Avril Lavigne is a multi-platinum, Grammy-nominated singer/ songwriter. Avril is also a dedicated philanthropist, who was inspired by her work with children who are seriously ill or who have disabilities to form The Avril Lavigne Foundation in 2010. She also currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Nancy Davis Foundation for Multiple Sclerosis and has publicly supported a number of charitable organizations over the years, including Amnesty International, the Make-A-Wish Foundation, War Child, and YouthAIDS.2013 Happy Valentine's Day Avril!

About The Avril Lavigne Foundation
Award-winning singer/songwriter and philanthropist Avril Lavigne created The Avril Lavigne Foundation in early 2010. The Avril Lavigne Foundation R.O.C.K.S.: Respect, Opportunity, Choices, Knowledge, and Strength in support of children and youth living with serious illnesses or disabilities. The Foundation partners with leading charitable organizations to design and deliver programs, raise awareness and mobilize support for children and youth living with a serious illness or a disability.

About Easter Seals
Easter Seals is the leading non-profit provider of services for individuals with autism, developmental disabilities, physical disabilities and other special needs. For over 90 years, they have been offering help and hope to children and adults living with disabilities, and to the families who love them. Through therapy, training, education and support services, Easter Seals creates life-changing solutions so that people with disabilities can live, learn, work and play. Support children and adults with disabilities at www.easterseals.com.

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