Tag Archives: easter seals
First, as a family we’d like to say a big thank you to the Easter Seals Early Childhood Intervention program team that has been part of the process over the almost 3 years working with our twins, Noah and Roman. Together WE DID IT! WE are doing it! They are achieving so much and catching up to developmental milestones. It’s been wonderful to see them thriving and meeting goals.
Noah and Roman were born at 30 weeks unexpectedly. As a parent that can be a scary thing not knowing the outcome of your babies. I did not have the opportunity to see, nor hold my babies once they were both delivered and they stayed in the NICU for about 2 months and received therapy services thru the hospital. Luckily, we were referred to Easter Seals ECI for the opportunity to have continued care for our little guys. Thru ECI we have been given more of the tools necessary to help our boys develop and grow.
Our service coordinator, Roshanda, has been very helpful in educating us about options we have for different services thru Easter Seals and ECI and making sure needs have been met. She always has open communication with me and answers questions or concerns we may have. Roshanda is very pleasant to work with and I feel like she genuinely cares.
The twins both started physical therapy with Melissa. It was a bittersweet moment being discharged from Easter Seals Houston’s PT services BUT it was a blessing they reached all their goals and physical developmental milestones! Thank you Melissa!
The boys have been receiving Easter Seals Houston’s occupational therapy services with Gumaro. We thank you Gumaro for getting the boys on track. Always having patience with them during the good days and the bad days.
Speech Therapy through Easter Seals is so much fun for Noah and Roman most of the time(if they’re in a good mood) the vocabulary has gone from grunts and crying to pointing, using single words, 2 and even some 3 word phrases. They definitely like to show off that they can communicate with mom and the family now. Thank you Tate! Also thank you to Michelle during SLP sessions with Noah when he had a tongue tie. You were so helpful to us. You introduced him with his 1st favorite book “Never Touch a Dragon” which he still loves.
The twins also receive SST (Specialized Skills Training) with Lakeisha. They have so much fun with all the therapists, but they really enjoy Lakeisha. They don’t even realize she’s working with them and think it is play time the whole session!
You all have watched our little guys have their best days and worst days. Thank you to the team of everyone who has helped us, help them, along the way thus far! These little guys have come a long way and the support and services thru Easter Seals ECI I truly feel like has gotten them on track to where they are now!
Thank you so much!
-Noah, Roman and Family
Our Easter Seals staff is amazing! We are so proud of the work they do daily. This is regarding a client in many of our programs that has Down syndrome, vision impairment and is on the autism spectrum. His mother also happens to be our BridgingApps Program Director.
“I have recently started working with Vincent on his knee, He has had a subluxed patella four times, and the last one being the worst. When I evaluated Vincent, he was very shy and didn’t want to participate or engage in physical therapy. We did the evaluation in the hall outside of the PT gym, because that was as close as we could get him at the time. I talked to him, reassured him, and made fun games out of the evaluation. We finally got him in the gym to work on the mat. Mom was concerned about him lying on the floor because this is not something he willingly does at home, but I was able to make a fun game out of it, and mom participated as well. Now the whole family is doing Vincent’s home exercise program! I have only just begun working with Vincent, and we are going at his pace for therapy. He now calls me Ms. Streisand, and I just roll with it because kids can call me anything they want to if it will get them to work, play, and have fun!”
Missy Dafler, PT, DPT, C/NDT, CKTP
What an incredible 4th First Light Family Camp we had! And the lessons, encouragement, and realizations keep coming. The families are there because they are first and foremost a military family. We are proud that we can be of support to them through Easter Seals Veterans Services, but more importantly, we are honored by the work they have done for our Country and the work they are doing for their families now. We were also really excited to have donors who wanted to ensure that all the children attending received a new bike. Who knew it would lead to some incredible revelations.
“First light is hopeful, beautiful, but it is also when you are at your most vulnerable.”
One family of four who attended with two children both of whom have disabilities, learned a new lesson. “Wow a bike! You think I can learn how to ride it?” Apparently, the children were never taught to ride… plenty of reasons, mostly protecting them – but the truth is it was just one more thing that made the children feel different adding to the list of disability, divorce, and military. One of the children after taking the first turn on learning to ride said, “This is going to make me feel really good.”
Another mom of a family attending reflected on her childhood memories of what a bike meant to her as a child, bottom line – freedom. “I think about my kids and the childhood they’re having now. They are not having the “normal” childhood I had. Maybe these bikes are going to help us ALL feel free again.”
“The Wish Float, when something spiritual becomes real.”
The Wish Float, a tradition at First Light it, is an emotional event, after a day of mental health focused break-out sessions, nighttime with the family and new friends, stars out, our flag lit up and campfire going. Everyone is asked to send out their wishes and hopes in a note with a candle into the darkness.
One family, enjoying the night realized one young adult child was off to the side on their own. Everyone assumed normal teen stuff. Turns out, a younger child with a disability from another family, being emotional, had reached out to the closest person for comfort, their young adult. And it turns out, that is all it took, the touch of a child for this family member to realize that they always needed to be there for their family, not just for the weekend, but for life.
Upon seeing the picture – Mom said, “I remember loving this moment! I felt like things were going to be truly o.k. with my kids.”
And that is what this Easter Seals Veteran Family Camp is all about. Being okay with yourself, and being present for your family.
Katherine von Haefen is a long-time United Way Greater Houston staff person. She was at United Way when I was in high school, and she was in charge of the Kids Way Program then. Kids Way was most definitely the thing that taught me to love volunteering in high school, and really instilled in me the idea of lifelong volunteerism. Fast forward to today, and Katherine’s high school aged daughter, Alison, volunteered for Camp Buckaroo for the first time this summer. Alison had a wonderful time and is now thinking about making working with people with disabilities her career, as many of our amazing teen volunteers do. She’s already reached back out to Kenzie Richard, Easter Seals Camp Program Coordinator, to ask about volunteering during the school year! It’s neat to think that Katherine was around when I discovered my love for volunteering, and now I’m around when her daughter’s making the same discovery – totally coming full circle.
Christine Ellery, Program Director Easter Seals Greater Houston.
*Easter Seals Greater Houston is proud to have been a partner of United Way GH since the days of it being called The Community Chest… a very long time! UWGH has enabled ESGH to serve so many more clients – thousands and thousands – through their and their donors support allowing us to ensure family stability, create growth, independence, and more.
Brianna was 17 months old when she had her first Easter Seals Early Childhood Intervention evaluation. Mom had made the referral as she had concerns with stiffness, lack of use of the left hand, and Brianna not walking. During the evaluation, Brianna was inquisitive, yet determined. She wanted to do things her way and she was not about to let the ECI team tell her what to and she made sure the ECI team knew this. During the initial evaluation, the Early Childhood Intervention team noticed that Brianna was using her right side more than her left side and asked mom about Brianna’s medical history. According to mom, pregnancy and labor were uncomplicated and her pediatrician had never expressed any concerns. Brianna qualified based on delays in several areas of development, but primarily motor functions. Due to the ECI team’s concern with Brianna using her right side more than the left, she was referred to a neurologist and it was then that Brianna was diagnosed with hemiparesis. At first, mom did not fully understand the diagnosis, but the ECI team made sure to provide her with information that she was able to understand. As the therapists and EIS worked with Brianna, they quickly realized that Brianna was bright and very determined. The ECI providers were constantly building on Brianna’s strengths in order to get her to meet new goals and mom was happy with the progress Brianna was making. Mom always made sure she never missed a session, even when she was pregnant with her second child, and if she was not able to present for Brianna’s sessions, she made sure step dad was present. Fast forward to Brianna graduating from ECI at age 3. Brianna is walking, talking, following directions, and pointing to pictures, body parts, colors, and shapes. During Brianna’s last session, mom expressed her gratitude for all her ECI service providers Priscilla Lewis, Alejandra Torres, Lindsay Wild, Christy Lewis, Judy Rodriguez, and Lillie Medellin. Mom expressed how grateful she was to ECI as she had learned a lot during the time she was present for the therapy sessions. She further stated that when Brianna was initially diagnosed with hemiparesis, she faulted herself and felt guilty for Brianna having been diagnosed, but with the help of all her ECI team, she quickly learned it was not her fault and she learned the many ways she could help Brianna. Mom also stated she felt supported throughout Brianna’s participation in ECI and had it not been for ECI, they might have never gotten a diagnosis for Brianna which would have meant that Brianna would not have made the progress she made while in ECI. Brianna is now happily participating in a PPCD program with Alief ISD and we are sure she is just as determined as she was during her ECI participation.
Oh, the mixed feelings. The proud “mama bear” feeling. The ecstatic “look at them go!” feeling. The sad “they’re leaving” feeling. All of ‘em. I’ve got all of ‘em.
For the past six years, I’ve been working with at risk youth with disabilities in the Ready to Achieve Mentoring Program at Easter Seals Greater Houston. The goal is to prepare them for life after high school while also making sure they feel the support and heed the guidance that aims to keep them out of the juvenile justice system and aiming instead at college and work. As you might imagine – working with teenagers is equal parts fun and *enter face-palm emoji here*. While we work on resume building, interviewing skills, and career exploration, they are also testing, and subsequently, pushing boundaries every chance they get. I’ve learned to navigate the energetic mischievousness and get as much done as possible, while still begging a handful of class clowns to “sit down”, “fill this out please”, and “please stop throwing erasers at his head”. I can’t complain too much, though. Most of the time I’m laughing as I say it because they truly are some of the funniest kids I have ever met.
For the last three years, I have had the same group of students at KIPP Northeast College Prep. Since day one, when they were all feeling me out and seeing if they actually liked me at all, they still made me laugh. There’s the one who can do any sound effect in the book and always has videos of his plays in the past weekend’s football game to show me, the one who prefers to walk around barefoot, the one whose smile is actually legitimately contagious. They all walk up and hug me when I walk into their classroom each week – and not superficial hugs, either. I mean big, crack-your-back bear hugs. The fact is, though, it’s time for some of them to move on; my five seniors. I’ve prepped them for this since their sophomore year, but it crept up on me a lot faster than I would have liked.
Today in class, all five of them told me that they had been accepted to several colleges. This big, scary transition from high school was starting out pretty wonderfully and they were excited to share the news. Again, those mixed feelings. I am so proud of them and I’m so sad to watch them go. When I started at Easter Seals, I knew this program would probably be pretty life changing but I honest to God didn’t expect it to have such an effect on me, too.
I’m so lucky to be a part of something so amazing and to get to spend my time with such talented, kind, intelligent young people. Watching them figure out their goals, work toward them, and achieve them is really incredible. My heart is full.
I still have a few months to prepare myself in an attempt to hold in tears as they walk across the stage at graduation. But that’s nothing a big bear hug can’t fix. Congratulations to the soon to be high school graduates of the class of 2020! Watching you on your journey to college has been a blessing. Don’t forget to visit. I’ll have candy.
Love, “Miss Jacquie”.