Tag Archives: disability

The SMART Road To Assistive Tech for ALL

In 2010, I was working at an educational non-profit when I helped to start a support group of parents and therapists where we shared information on how smartphones and touch tablets could help children with disabilities improve developmental skills. I was interested in how technology could help my youngest son Vincent, who at the age of 6 had the fine motor skills of an 18 month old. I knew that he would never write with a pen and paper, but I also knew that technology could play a big role in his early education and throughout his life.

Vincent had tried joysticks and other technology prior to the tablet to write and communicate, but he needed hand over hand assistance to operate them. However, with the iPad he was able to navigate independently. What a boost to his confidence and an ease to his frustration!

Other parents and therapists had similar thoughts but, because this mobile technology was so new, we spent hours exploring possibilities of which apps were the most helpful for our kids. We were overwhelmed by the sheer number of apps available, so we set out to find a way to make searching easier for parents and professionals. That support group and quest for solutions turned into BridgingApps, a website and program of Easter Seals Greater Houston.

Becoming part of Easter Seals Greater Houston has been a blessing in the most profound way for this program and for our family. With the help of Easter Seals’ leadership and vision to help the program grow as quickly as possible, we have been able to make great strides in its’ development and reach. In 2014, BridgingApps won the Verizon Powerful Answers Award for Education that came with a $700,000 prize.  Our website is filled with resources for people of all ages and abilities – parents, caregivers, therapists, doctors and people with disabilities – looking for the right apps to fit their needs.

We now have three assistive technology labs (Thanks to The George Foundation and ATT&T) in the Houston area and satellite support groups in Austin, the Rio Grande Valley and Fort Worth, Texas.  In 2016, we gave more than 55 presentations and trainings in Houston and around the country. Our website enjoys 9,000 registered users from 187 countries, 7,000 monthly visitors, a podcast segment, an online course, a regular column in a digital magazine, and 3,500 apps in our database. We are excited to explore new ways in which mobile technology can assist young adults with special health care needs, older adults, and seniors through collaborative projects with Texas Children’s Hospital, TIRR Memorial Hermann, Amerigroup/Anthem, UnitedHealthcare, and others.

As a veteran of the US Army, I am thrilled and honored this year to be working on a project that provides services and mental health supports to veterans and their families by using technology. Through a generous grant from TV+FA, we are able to provide technology training in different formats to veterans and their family members.  This spring we have already provided 10 Veterans Access Cafes in locations around Houston to demonstrate how smartphones can be used as a mental health support with apps like Calm, Swirlicity, and Stay Quit Coach. We continue to add content each week to www.bridgingapps.org/veteransresource  to share information on apps and other technologies that benefit veterans and their families.

Cristen Reat, Easter Seals Greater Houston, BridgingApps Founder

 

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“Ideas Worth Spreading” …Corporations & Communities Supporting Veterans

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

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Celebrating Better Hearing and Speech Month

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!

 

 

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May 11, 2017 · 8:52 am

Adult Bowling is Right Up Our Alley

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. bowling2Adult 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 thabowling3t 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 dlemoine@eastersealshouston.org.

Sara Padon, Easter Seals Greater Houston, Adult Bowling Program Volunteer

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High School High Tech Royalty and Celebrating Disability Employment Awareness Month!

Hear ye, hear ye! Easter Seals Greater Houston‘s High School High Tech is homecomingking4pleased to announce that we now have Royalty among us!  Montgomery ISD just crowned our very own HSHT student, Jahlil Howard, to be the 2016 Montgomery High School Homecoming King! Jahlil, a high school senior, is a second year participant in our High School High Tech and Ready to Achieve Mentoring program and has been a shining example of leadership to his peers.

High School/High Tech is a community-based partnership of parents, educators, rehabilitation professionals and business representatives working together to encourage students with disabilities to explore the fields of science, engineering and technology. Only 56% of students with disabilities graduate from high school. High School/High Tech was developed to address this situation. Most individuals with disabilities have not had the encouragement, role models, access and stimulation to pursue challenging technical careers or courses of study. Through High School/High Tech, students with disabilities are presented a mix of learning experiences that promote career exploration and broaden educational horizons.

homecomingking2This outgoing Senior has been super active in our HSHT program and has participated in several career field trips including Montgomery County Mock Interview Day, tours of Olive Garden and Woodforest National Bank and even defied gravity at a HSHT indoor skydiving event at IFly Woodlands!  In addition to HSHT, Jahlil continues to break barriers as an avid runner and member of the MHS Varsity Cross Country Team and has been recognized with several awards for his Cross Country achievements, including District Champ, all the while maintaining his steady summer job. homecomingking1

Jahlil became involved with HSHT with the support and encouragement of his MISD Transition Specialist Lesa Bolling who proudly remarked, “Jahlil is an awesome young man with an outstanding personality! He makes everyone around him feel at ease. Jahlil’s faith is grounded and he speaks of it often.” Mrs. Bolling couldn’t have said it better!  Congratulations to our amazing young man, and Royal Highness, Jahlil Howard!

Carmen Phillips, Easter Seals Greater Houston
Montgomery County HSHT Program Coordinator

 

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Adult Program Gives Participant Sense of Pride

Meet one of Easter Seals Greater Houston’s awesome young adult clients. Every week she participates in our Life Enrichment for Adults with Disabilities (LEAD) Young Adult Day Program. During the LEAD Young Adult Day Program this non-verbal woman with autism, along with other participants blog2ages 18 to 30, partakes in activities focused on enriching life skills and social skills as well as fun recreational activities. During LEAD, we incorporate her communication device as much as possible; while the rest of the time, we speak to each other through eye contact and gestures. Her mom continually says that this is the only place where she feels comfortable enough to leave her daughter.

We love to see how being in the LEAD program has enriched our participants’blog1 lives. For example, this young woman loves to have things in their place, such as, crayons cannot have wrappers on them, water cannot sit in a cup for too long, and shoes come off as soon as it is allowed. One day during Easter Seals Greater Houston’s LEAD at Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church, we made hats (seen in picture) and instead of ripping off the decorations as soon as she got home, she put it on her head and paraded it around. We provided her the opportunity to create something (with a hot glue gun, I might add) that gave her a sense of pride and independence. This hat was made last year and I am told it sits on her dresser, with every ball, flower, and sequence still intact.

We are proud of all of the growth that our Adults experience by attending Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Life Enrichment for Adults with Disabilities Day Program. We have two Adult Day Program groups, ages 18-30 and another ages 30 and up. We also serve our clients through a variety of other services. Please reach out to Lindsey Holton at LHolton@eastersealshouston.org for more information on how you and your loved ones can get involved!

Easter Seals Greater Houston, Adult Programs

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The Caroline School is looking for a Teacher!

If 2013-pj-dayyou are seeking a job that gives you the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of children and their families and be an important part of a team of caring professionals, look no further than The Caroline School! Join Easter Seals Greater Houston in our mission to provide services that meet the physical, cognitive and social needs of children with development delays and their families.

We would love to work with someone who is:

  • Experienced in the field (preferably of Education, however other fields will be considered based on particular involvement with children/students)
  • Certified to teach (SpEd specialization recommended, but not required)
  • Passionate about their work
  • Able to be part of a team
  • A creative and flexible thinker regarding educational approaches
  • Available as soon as possible

We are an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission company and offer:image5

  • A super supportive team and working environment
  • On-going training
  • Benefits
  • Optional full or partial Summers
  • An HISD calendar year
  • 5 days of additional Paid days off

If you have the qualities listed above, please send your resume and quick blurb about yourself to the Educational Director of The Caroline School, Tabitha Hernandez, at THernandez@eastersealshouston.org

Tabitha Hernandez, The Caroline School, Easter Seals Greater Houston

 

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