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ESNG's Donna Davidson recognized as a "2015 Who's Who in Atlanta Nonprofits" by the Atlanta Business Chronicle
Friday, June 8, 2018, 11:36 AM
“It is easier to build strong children than repair broken men.” – Frederick Dougla…
“It is easier to build strong children than repair broken men.” – Frederick Douglas
From birth to adolescence children are vulnerable. They are in a time where the most critical pieces to who they are and who they will become are developing right before our eyes. Childhood is a time to learn and explore the endless possibilities. All children expect from the moment they arrive is that they will be cared for and looked after; that they will be guided and protected. They do not expect that factors outside of their control could dictate their future, and it shouldn’t. Unfortunately, we live in a time where medical, financial, developmental, linguistic, mental health and many other factors can cause barriers during this critical time. But we can change that. Our future is shaped by the experiences and the development of these children. Whether that is a positive or negative outcome is our responsibility. It is up to us to ensure that all children have every resource they need and every opportunity to live, learn, work, and play in his or her community.
“Kasserian Ingera” is a phrase that the Masai tribe in Africa used to greet each other. Every day and every interaction began with “Kasserian Ingera” meaning “And how are the children.” Whether they had children or not the members of the Masai tribe knew that the well-being of the children should be placed above all else and that caring for the well-being of the children meant the well-being of the whole tribe was positive. Once a warrior would ask “And how are the children” the traditional answer was “All the children are well.” This response meant that the conditions of the tribe were well. It meant that it was safe, that there was food and shelter, and that the most vulnerable members of the tribe had the optimal environment and opportunities to grow up healthy, strong, and with the knowledge they needed.
Together, we can all do our part to ensure the children in our community thrive. By advocating for their rights, keeping them safe, by providing access to quality and affordable education, and by ensuring nutritious meals and the access to critically needed care we can empower our children and strengthen our community.
The month of June we are putting a focus on the importance of the children. Why they are the focus of our efforts, how we each can help ensure their success, and spreading the knowledge that Children Matter. This month we would like you to join our #ChildrenMatter campaign by sharing and spreading our messages, by using #ChildrenMatter, by asking yourselves and each other “how are the children” and discussing ways we each share in answering “the children are well.”
Easterseals North Georgia helps to unlock the potential that lies within every child. Starting at birth and at every critical point throughout their childhood, ESNG is there creating solutions that change lives. We have a vision of a world where all children can realize their dreams. If you would like to join us in making a difference in the lives of young children, their families, and communities you can donate today and help continue to make essential programs and services possible.
Thursday, May 10, 2018, 11:08 AM
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Environmental factors play a critical role in a child’s …
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Environmental factors play a critical role in a child’s social-emotional development which is why we cannot simply work with children but we must also focus on the mental health of our teachers and parents. Day in and day out they are the ones shaping the minds and emotional states of young children. If they are not mentally and emotionally sound then the effects could be detrimental. Managing stress and making self-care a priority minimizes the potential for passing on the stress to the children who are watching, learning, and depending on these environments to grow up healthy and successful.
Since Mother’s Day is quickly approaching we thought it was a perfect time to hear the first-hand experiences of an Easterseals North Georgia Mother discussing how she practices self-care while being a mother of three. Meet Kelly.
“Being a mother is such a selfless, all-encompassing job and privilege. I think all women, whether they work out of the home or in the home, struggle with finding the right balance in terms of juggling kids, partners, and taking care of ourselves. As a mother to a child with special needs and two typically developing children, I have found that self-care is something I really need to stay on top of. I learned the hard way that giving all of myself to my kids, my husband, and my job while completely neglecting my own mental health actually impacts my entire family. I think I’ve done a pretty good job of incorporating more self-care into my routine, although I do admit it is still a struggle. These are some of the things I have found that have really helped me.
First and foremost, therapy. Being a mother to a child with special needs can feel very isolating. I’ve run the gauntlet of emotions, including anger, resentment, and depression to anxiety. It’s so beneficial to be able to speak to a qualified professional regularly who can help navigate through these emotions. A good therapist can work on coping skills and stress management and discuss possible medications that might help alleviate some of these symptoms if they are ongoing.
I have found that jumping back into old hobbies and interests has really helped me as well. For several years, I lost sight of the things that brought me joy; things like reading novels, cooking and baking and exercising. I always felt like I had no time to engage in these activities anymore. Now, I carve out specific times of the day to be able to devote to these hobbies. I hold these times pretty sacred, and I try very hard not to let other things take priority over them. Obviously, there are instances in which I’m not able to keep my scheduled time for myself (like sick kids), and that is fine. I just remember to jump back into those hobbies as soon as I can. I have found those are excellent ways for me to recharge.
Friends, friends, friends. It’s so difficult to coordinate with friends to find times to reconnect. We are all juggling several things in our lives, and sometimes trying to schedule time with girlfriends or with a partner seems daunting. We all get out our calendars and compare dates. And honestly, sometimes we have to schedule things 3 or 4 months out into the future, but if that’s what it takes to carve out time it’s worth it. I manage to go out with girlfriends at least once every few months and with my husband at least once per month. There’s nothing better than just escaping reality and being silly with friends and completely forgetting about life’s responsibilities for a few hours. True, sometimes we get together and talk mostly about parenting struggles, but I find that we balance serious discussions with lighthearted ones. One thing that has meant so much to me is actually finding a group of other special needs moms to spend time with. There is an ease in being with people who understand the ups and downs of raising children with special needs.
Finally, one of the biggest aspects of self-care that I”m still working very hard on is self-compassion and forgiveness. I’ve really had to work on being kind to myself. They say we are our own worst critics, and I have found that to be very true. I feel like I could devote all of my free time to my child with special needs helping him learn to talk and achieve skills that he has not mastered. However, I have a job and two other children and a husband that deserve my time as well. I have beaten myself up (and still do sometimes) about not being able to spend more time being that perfect “therapeutic” mom who always has some way of incorporating my child’s therapy into every activity. I’ve started to forgive myself and realize that raising him in a home full of love is what is most important. I focus much more now on gratitude and being thankful for what I have, either by journaling about this every day or through meditation. I make it a point every night to recognize all of the wonderful things I accomplished that day.
When all else fails and I’m really having a hard time or feeling guilty about the need to take time for myself, I always remember that phrase “If mama isn’t happy, nobody’s happy”. It brings a smile to my face and helps reaffirm the importance of taking care of myself.”
By: Kelly Bowman Griffith, Easterseals North Georgia Parent
Thursday, March 15, 2018, 11:15 AM
“Special needs,” “Differently-Abled,” or “Handicapable.” A constant topic that comes up in the realm…
“Special needs,” “Differently-Abled,” or “Handicapable.”
A constant topic that comes up in the realm of disabilities is how to talk about it. What to say, what not to say, what is politically correct and what is preferred. Should we use “people first language” like a person with a disability as opposed to a disabled person or does that have an underlying negative connotation like the disability is something they have or need to be removed from? Is Special Needs a less aggressive and more respectful term or is it implying that the person in front of you requires something so unique that their needs require their own category? At the end of the day air to breathe, food to eat, shelter, education, healthcare, love, respect, and acceptance are needs that we all have.
So how do we talk about it? What is the correct way to view or speak about a person with a disability?
The answer: As just that. A person.
March is Developmental Disability Awareness Month. This month instead of informing you of all the types of disabilities there are. We want you to focus on being aware of the person behind the label. What if we come together to disable the label and create a world of inclusion, respect, and acceptance. Together we can change the way the world defines and views disability.
How can we all get involved? Good question!
Start at the foundation.
Let’s teach our children. Children are naturally curious, so it is important to be prepared to address their questions about disabilities as openly and honestly as we can. Here are just a few tips to get started:
Practice What We Teach
It is important to teach our children these things, but it is even more important to practice what we preach. We are our child’s first and most important teacher and advocate. They are sponges and follow our leads. Two great ways to help redefine disability and act as an example are:
Easterseals North Georgia recognizes and respects the whole child. We focus on providing opportunities for children and their families from different backgrounds and with a range of abilities to achieve their full potential. If you would like to learn more about us and how we serve children and families in your community check out our website at www.eastersealsnorthgeorgia.org or give us a call at 404-943-1070.
Sunday, April 23, 2017, 4:23 PM
Being a kid is fun – running, biking and seemingly endless playing. Well, if your child needs …
Being a kid is fun – running, biking and seemingly endless playing. Well, if your child needs help manipulating his muscles, those fun activities are more difficult for him. In our early intervention program, Babies Can’t Wait, we have physical therapists whose goals are to get kids moving. In October we are celebrating physical therapists and all they do, especially for our kids. Jacob worked with a physical therapist to realize his dreams. Here’s his story:
When her son Jacob wasn’t hitting his developmental milestones at a year old, his mom, Susan, was getting very concerned. Luckily, a social worker at the hospital where she works as a nurse suggested contacting Easter Seals North Georgia’s Babies Can’t Wait program for an evaluation.
In January 2014, at 15 months old, Jacob started physical therapy with Aimee. He was only able to roll over. Aimee worked with him and his mom one hour a week. Every week, Susan learned something new from the in-home therapy sessions. What she learned, she would implement the other six days of the week. “We worked on arm strength by laying him across my lap. I’d show him books at a level that would require him to push up on his arms,” said Susan.
Every week, Aimee had them doing something different. It’s always for the same purpose, but just a new way of working toward it. Frequently, they went outside and used his toys to play with a purpose. Their backyard has a slope perfect for working on Jacob’s ankle strength and balance. Aimee would have Jacob blow bubbles while standing on the hill, so he was working out without even realizing it. “The beauty of Babies Can’t Wait is that you can use things found in the child’s natural setting to help in the therapy,” Aimee said. For example, the step from the house to the garage was only two inches, which was a great start for tackling the broad stairs up to his room.
The family’s and Aimee’s hard work paid off in a big way. On the day of his second birthday party, Jacob walked. Remembering that moment still brings tears to Susan’s eyes. “He went from rolling around the house to walking in nine months. Nothing came easily to him. We had to manipulate his feet for him to show him how to walk,” she said.
After corrective eye surgery, Jacob’s progress accelerated. Now, at 3 1/2 is still working on his range of motion and balance. Therapies continued to focus on improving Jacob’s balance and gait. Aimee had Jacob’s family create obstacle courses for him. They set up a laundry basket, toys, and other items he would have to navigate around. His big sister loved to help not only set up the course but also to show him how to do it.
“It’s been a long road, and he’s doing really, really well. That’s all thanks to Aimee. I don’t know where we would if we didn’t have Babies Can’t Wait,” said Susan.
Aimee recognizes and appreciates the long road that Jacob and his family have traveled to get where they are today. As Jacob continues physical therapy with her on a private basis, she is confident he will achieve all his milestones. “I know he will get there. He’s just having some issues now, but I know it’ll happen. He has the support and will to do whatever he wants to,” she said.
Monday, December 19, 2016, 12:04 PM
The following blog post was originally posted on Easter Seals’ National website. 16 Ways to Pr…
The following blog post was originally posted on Easter Seals’ National website.
16 Ways to Prepare Children with Autism for Holidays
by Cathy Pratt, Ph.D., BCBA-D
While many happily anticipate the coming holiday season, families with sons/daughters on the autism spectrum also understand the special challenges that may occur when schedules are disrupted and routines broken.
The following tips were developed with input from the Autism Society of America, the Indiana Resource Center for Autism, Easterseals Crossroads, Sonya Ansari Center for Autism at Logan, and the Indiana Autism Leadership Network. We update our list of suggestions annually, and our hope is that by following these few helpful tips as the holiday approaches, families may lessen the stress and anxiety created by the holiday season and make it a more enjoyable experience for everyone.