Tag Archives: family

Family Camp Fun

Easter Seals Greater Houston puts on a variety of fully inclusive camps. Over the last year many of our camps have been virtual, but we found a way to create a phenomenal family camp in which everyone was safely socially distanced. Here are some of the wonderful memories made at Family Camp!

“We have no words to say once and again THANK YOU so much!! We had the best family weekend EVER!! We were so happy, enjoying all the nature, all the activities and the most wonderful thing was to see Roman enjoying himself during the activities. It was great to see that he was able to fully participate in all of the activities with us, seeing his face smiling is priceless, and it was possible thanks to you!!
All the staff was very kind and patient with us, because we are a big family!! God bless you and keep doing this amazing job, bringing happiness to families like ours!!
I have attached some beautiful pictures of Roman and my family during this wonderful weekend!!

Regards and blessings,
Carolina and Family”

Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Family Camp was Kingsley’s first time at a sleep-away camp! With his family by his side, Kingsley felt safe & comfortable trying all new camp activities. On his first day of camp he rode horses, climbed the rock-wall, and even zip-lined! That night, we played a game called “Mission Rescue”; we had to save camp from being turned into cheese by an evil scientist! Campers had to make it from the dining hall to the other side of camp without getting caught by the “minions”, who would shine their flashlight on you and make you start over. Suddenly, going out into the dark felt scary to Kingsley, and his anxiety began to kick in about the minions in the dark. Despite mom’s reassurance and encouragement, he had quickly decided the game was too scary to play. I swooped in, asking Kingsley, “Kingsley, would it make you feel better if you had a flashlight too? So that if a minion beams you with a flashlight, you can beam them back!” He immediately jumped up and exclaimed, “YES!”. Armed with his new flashlight-shield, he headed outside to start the game with a smile on his face. Often times, a small token of reassurance goes a long way with our campers. The combined support from camp staff and parents allow campers to feel that they can do anything at camp, even something they might have shied away from in everyday life.

Camp is magic!

Lilly shared that had a great time at camp and enjoyed everything from the Energizers in the morning to the s’mores at night! Her favorite activity was horseback riding (it was her dad’s first time!) with zip-lining as a close second!

Easter Seals Greater Houston has camps for children, teens, adults, veterans, and families. Learn more about our inclusive camps today!

**In some of the pictures, masks are down/not on. In these cases, they were the only family at the outdoor activity—no other camp families or staff were around. Another family member took the photos.*

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Caregiving for the Caregiver

The following was written by a parent who receives Respite Services from Easter Seals Greater Houston.

I am an immigrant, single mother of a son who has autism and speech delay. I have a full-time job supporting my son and I. Things are difficult with no family in town and just a couple of friends. We essentially have little to no caregiver support here. Thanks to Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Respite Program I now have help. We are now connected with their Respite Program that provides the break and support that I was looked for and needed.

I have now opportunity once a week to not only take care of myself but also go out to social gatherings, spend time with friends and will be starting a dance class now too!  I am lucky to say that thanks to Easter Seals Greater Houston and their caregiver support, my life and family finally feels balanced.

Respite Parent, Easter Seals Greater Houston Respite Services

Many parents of children and adults with disabilities have low incomes and cannot afford to hire providers to take time away from their children. Many people with disabilities require 24-hour supervision, attention and care. This continuous demand becomes a tremendous drain on caregivers emotionally, physically and mentally-this care will remain constant as they grow older. Providing this much needed support for caregivers is only possible because of the generosity of the community. Would you please consider helping support the thousands of families that depend on Respite Services and donate today?

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“Running” In the Right Direction

We had the privilege of joining Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Early Childhood Intervention Infant Program in December 2019. My daughter was around 13-months-old and was unable to sit up, feed herself, or communicate at all. Her pediatrician was concerned about her lack of progress and recommended that I look into Easter Seals Greater Houston.

Easter Seals immediately got me in for an evaluation and promptly had me set up with a case worker named Sarah Summers that works in the Infant Program. Based on our income we were given the general cost for her therapies (before insurance). I cannot emphasize enough how relieved we were to hear this! We now knew the price it would cost, instead of dreading a bunch of medical bills piling up. Together, we decided she needed 5 different therapies/therapists to guide us as to what to do to help our daughter. Each time we saw one of her therapists they came up with new exercises for us to practice with her until we saw that therapist again. We immediately started seeing results! Over the next six months she had progressed in all levels. We actually started to not need some of the therapies/therapists because they had done an amazing job and she was no longer struggling in that area. Our biggest area of concern, when starting the program, was her lack of movement. Once we started working with Easter Seals ECI Program she was able to sit up within a month, crawling in 2-3 months, and by 6 months was able to walk. This is beyond what we could have expected!

Currently, my daughter is speaking and understanding all sorts of words and phrases. She feeds herself at every meal and is basically “running” to keep up with her big brother. Without Easter Seals ECI Program none of this would have been possible. For us as parents, we were at a loss as to what to do to help our child. Easter Seals helped guide us in very specific ways to get her moving in the right direction and I am so grateful to have been a part of this wonderful program.      

-Lindsay F

Tracking your child’s development can be difficult for the most attentive parent. Easter Seals Greater Houston’s ECI Program is still providing all services via tele-therapy including evaluations. Call Alicia at 713.838.9050 ext. 385 to schedule a free evaluation and to check on your child’s milestones.

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It Takes A Village of Great Therapists

Our family is a little sad, but completely proud to have our son graduate from Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Early Childhood Intervention Program. We are so very grateful to have had the wonderful team that Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Early Childhood Intervention Program provided.  After our son John’s long NICU stay he began receiving outstanding therapy from Easter Seals ECI team. First of all I’d like to thank Aliza. At any time I could call you with any issue or concern. You never failed to provide me with resolutions for my concerns. You had John’s best interest at heart. Thank you!

Lisa Rand. I could always talk to her about sensory issues with John. You sent me texts on your free time with videos that really did work for John. It was such a joy to have you in our home. We always looked forward to all the goodies you had in your bag. With your therapy sessions John can take on anything! Thank you!

Jennifer Miller. We worked with you for a little while, but we were more than ecstatic to have you teach John to say those hard to speak letters (like B and P).  You are a wonderful therapist, mom and friend! John says more sentences because of you! Thank you! 

Neice Thomas. You were such a gentle therapist. Your patience with John made me so thankful to you. He touches Play-Doh and slime without issue! Thank you!

Lastly, Andy Fry. It was always a nice getaway for John. To meet other children with similar issues. Your Family Day Out Program was so fun! What you do for the children and parents is great. Thank you!

We will continue to do the Walk With Me with Easter Seals Greater Houston once it is safe for us all to do so. We certainly do miss ECI!  Thank you again for all the work that was put in for John.

Sincerely,

Monique Stuart
John Stuart
Curtis Stuart

Easter Seals Greater Houston’s ECI Program is still providing all services via tele-therapy including evaluations. Call Alicia at 713.838.9050 ext. 385 to schedule a free evaluation and to check on your child’s milestones.

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The Triumph of a Family Meal

The following was written by Doris whose son, Edgar, participates in Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Children’s Therapy Program.

“We wanted to have a family meal where everyone was sharing a nice homemade meal. Sounds pretty easy, but it wasn’t. We sought out a food therapy program to help with Edgar’s limited diet, his overeating tendencies, and his textural sensibilities. When Easter Seals Greater Houston started offering food therapy, we quickly signed Edgar up for it because there would be no force feeding involved, a big plus for my sweet sensitive child!

I have noticed that after starting the food therapy program with Alysia, Edgar has gone from eating a handful of foods to at least trying out different foods I never thought would be possible. I never expected results in such a short amount of time. Lettuce, strawberries, and even hamburger meat? Those foods seemed like a long shot…a goal for the long run. Yet here we are, months into the food therapy program and my child is opening up! Suddenly, sharing the same nice homemade meal with the family doesn’t seem as far-fetched as I had imagined last year!

I can honestly say that the food therapy in combination with other therapies including his occupational therapy with Alysia, Speech Therapy with Miaya, Ingrid with Music, his kindergarten teacher, his school assigned case worker, and even his school principal have all helped propel my son forward. Alysia, I can’t thank you enough! Your creativity and your patience with Edgar has shown in many areas and now with Food therapy, you have given us a gift our family will always cherish.

Food is family and love!”

-Doris, Children’s Therapy Program Parent

Would you like to know more about how Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Children’s Therapy Program? We have incredible resources including speech, occupational and physical therapy. Learn more today.

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Healthy Eating Habits for Your Baby

Our goal at Easter Seals Greater Houston is to ensure that our clients and their families have all the tools they need have a healthy family and children, to meet their needs, and goals to secure a financially stable future.

Our Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) Infant Program therapists and nutritionists want to make sure you have the information necessary to meet those goals.

Goal #1 – Is to promote healthy eating and activity for families.  When family members feel better through healthy eating, they act, sleep, study and work together better. They also meet their milestones, learn more and have lots more fun! Healthy eating and activities are both important in helping your child reach their milestones.

ECI Nutrition Toddler Portion Sizes ECIBelow is an example of the appropriate portions for a one-year-old to consume every day:

Grains – 2 ounces
Fruits – 1 cup
Vegetables – ¾ cup
Protein – 1 ½ ounces
Dairy – 2 cups

Read more about Toddler Portion Sizes.

Goal #2 – Is to make sure your baby is meeting their milestones. Consider an evaluation for your baby or toddler with our ECI Program (0-36 months). Our outstanding ECI team wants to help your baby achieve their goals in cognitive, social/emotional, communicative, adaptive and physical development.  Learn more about our Early Childhood Intervention Program.

Goal #3 – Is to help families get back on the right track and back on their feet. SNAP is just one of the many programs that we can help you sign-up.

SNAP Benefits – The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) helps individuals and families buy the food they need for good health. Every month SNAP benefits are loaded onto an electronic card, called an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) that is used like a debit card.

Goal #4 – Is to connect our families to other ways Easter Seals Greater Houston’s many programs and services can help. Learn more about our Free Financial Education, Homebuyer Education Services & Public Benefits.

If you have concerns or questions about your child’s development, please call us at 713.838.9050, ext. 385 and request a free developmental assessment. Learn more about Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Early Childhood Intervention Program today.

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My Independence Day

Dear Easter Seals Greater Houston,

I want to express my feelings about training my service dog puppy, Just Bob, during these extreme conditions, and with my limited physical abilities. Without the Easter Seals Veterans Service Program and partner, My Service Dog, being available to provide safe environments, leadership, and guidance, I would have given up by now.

My life has changed in more ways than I could have imagined having this highly intelligent puppy in it. He is also a member of my family and they feel the same about him. We all work together to teach him, love him, and correct him. In just over a couple of months, Just Bob has enhanced my life, and the lives of my entire family. I honestly cannot believe how much he means to me and how I could not do without him.

In the beginning I was wondering how I could train Just Bob from a puppy, build a strong foundation and teach a full-blown service dog. It was only possible thanks to Easter Seals Greater Houston and My Service Dog’s constant communication, assistance, and guidance.My Independence Day

A perfect example of your team’s dedication and commitment is the photo attached to this email. There was ‘no way’ I was going to get into my wheelchair and let someone push me around a nature path where other people could see.  I am glad that she finally convinced me because it was a great training session, the weather was beautiful, and Just Bob learned how to maneuver with my wheelchair like never before. The outing did me good, taught both of us so much, and wore Just Bob out!

Thank you all from the bottom of my heart,

Blaine C.

Learn more about Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Veteran Service Dog Program.

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Love is All Around at Family Day Out

FDO pic 2My name is Emily Padora and I am interning with Easter Seals Greater Houston this Spring. A few months ago, I had the privilege of putting together activities for our campers to do at Family Day Out. Since it was so close to Valentine’s Day, I related the entire day to all things Valentine-y. We started out the day dyeing rice red, pink, and purple to mix together for a fun sensory item to play with. Then, we all gathered together in the gym for an exciting game of ‘Musical Hearts’, where we made silly faces and performed fun movements. Later, we relaxed with a snack and short Valentine’s Day kid-friendly video. We ended the day with some playtime outside, where some campers decided to engage in a fun game of baseball, some ran around with their awesome volunteers, and others just chilled out by the swings. ESGH Family Day Out is meant to be a fun and safe environment for children with disabilities and their siblings to hangout on a Saturday morning while their parents and/or caregivers can take some time to themselves. We put together a fun-packed schedule for campers that allows for room to engage in activities that interest them. I loved being a part of the FDO program and I look forward to the next one!

 

Emily Padora, Easter Seals Greater Houston Intern

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Let the Camps Begin

“It’s hard to believe that our camps for the Spring of 2019 are over! We have had such a blast these past couple of months at camp. This Spring, Easter Seals has hosted two wonderful weekend camps at Camp For All. We kicked off the New Year by running our second session of First Light Family Camp, a weekend retreat for veterans and their families! Though this camp was held in late January, we had beautiful and sunny weather all weekend long. Ten families joined in on the fun; we arrived on Friday night for dinner and had a campfire at dark- complete with s’mores and sing-a-long songs! Saturday was jam-packed with fun activities; we were able to participate in cast fishing, horses and barnyard, and even got to dress up in the costume closet and have a fashion show! Throughout the weekend, we broke into small groups to discuss stress relief/management, coping mechanisms, and even got to do some relaxation yoga! It was a fun adventure for our families to join us at camp for the first time!

We hosted our Spring session of Camp M.O.S.T. (Miles of Smiles for Teens) earlier this February! As always, camp was a blast! It was a fun reunion for campers and volunteers from the fall to get together again! The weather for this session of camp was chillier than usual, but our group braved the cold to participate in all the awesome activities camp has to offer. This session of Camp M.O.S.T. was Olympic themed, and everyone got in on the fun and light-hearted competition. During the weekend, we broke up into four teams; each team got their chance to compete in the Olympic events, ranging from “Counselor Curling” to a donut eating competition. The weekend also included some educational and inspiring Jam Sessions- where campers were able to work on skills such as advocacy, education, and other skills. Throughout the weekend, we were inspired by various videos and interviews with awesome Paralympic athletes! On Sunday, we had to say goodbye during our closing ceremony, but we are so excited for our next session of camp in the fall!”

Kenzie Richard, Camps Program Coordinator, Easter Seals Greater Houston

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Recovering Together

Camp Discovery – named by putting the words Disaster and Recovery together – served families affected by Harvey and participating in counseling services through our Harvey Case Management Program.  It was a wonderful weekend retreat!  The families participated in typical camp activities like archery, horseback riding, nature, and a ropes course, as well as “team huddles” – mental health-focused break-out sessions for parents, teens, big kids, and little kids.

Harvey blog 3.JPGCamp Discovery was just one mental health support service made possible by the grants from Americares, Save the Children, and the Houston Harvey Relief Fund.  Through these grants, our team of case managers, mental health clinicians, financial stability coaches, and technology experts – impacted over 3000 families affected by Hurricane Harvey.

In late October a team of Easter Seals staff and volunteers hosted and facilitated a camp for families impacted by Hurricane Harvey at Camp For All.  Since then we have continued to serve people with disabilities and veterans through Harvey recovery and are proud to be a recipient of continued funding from The Mayor’s Fund and Enterprise / Heart so that we can continue in our efforts through housing assistance now. The experiences and memories made were more than words can describe. I will try my best to express what I witnessed and the successes I saw. Most of the families that attended our Camp Discovery shared that this was their first time having an experience like this, all together as a family unit, away from electronics, and in tune with the elements. Many shared that they were able to try things that they had never done before such as fishing, canoeing, zip-lining, horseback riding, and being able to interact and learn about new animals.harvey blog

There was awe and surprise from the very beginning.  When one family saw the retreat that would be their home for the weekend, one boy said, “This is the nicest place we’ve ever stayed!”  And the shyness of the families with each other dissipated very quickly.  By the close of the first night, just hours after having met, they were dancing together and enjoying s’mores around the campfire.

We had several little ones try out the tall rock climbing wall to later zip-line down. Two of our participants got “stuck” near the top of their goal and were ready to give up. Tears were shed and panic set in a bit as the goal to reach the top seemed unachievable and scary so high up from the ground. One mother became concerned but with support from the mental health team was able to turn her panic into words of encouragement. The mother, alongside the other campers, cheered on Jeffery and provided guidance on stabilizing his footing so that he could pull himself up to the ledge. Jeffery was successful and enthusiastically moved on to the next challenge- zip-lining back down.

One of our younger campers also struggled near the top of his rock wall experience, but he had climbed the wall alongside his mother and she was able to provide one on one support in the moment. The support staff watched in amazement at this mother’s immediate instinct to provide reassurance and support to our brave camper while also allowing him to do all the work to get himself up.

harvey blog 2Most of the weekend, I heard parents express how amazed they were about their children and their brave efforts to try out new things and face some of their fears.

The families shared how they surprised themselves with courage and willingness to try new things.

Many of the mothers commented that a win and success for the weekend was not having to cook while also enjoying all the activities with the family.

One mom, whose house had to be totally gutted, said that they had not put up any pictures yet.  She said the frames of family photos given at camp were going to be the very first frames they put up.

Another family reminded us that the camp experience brought back similar experiences from Harvey such as staying in a different place, eating food that was not “our own”, and adjusting to a different routine, but that camp opened the space to rewrite that story and make new fun memories with the family.

Erica Toskovich, LMFT, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Mental Health Program, Easter Seals Greater Houston 

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