Friday, March 29, 2013

The court is yours, take it

It’s Feeling Fabulous Friday

Today at Easter Seals Florida we've got basketball on the mind, but we aren't think of March Madness. We are remembering a great story that comes from Germantown High School outside Memphis, Tennessee. You may be wondering what is so important about Germantown High School, but the question to ask is “who is so important?”

David Andrews’ of the Germantown High School basketball team has an inspiring story that is spreading across the country. David is a young man with Down Syndrome that loves to play basketball. Though he began last season on the bench, it wasn't long before he struck up attention. When his team was safely headed to victory one night, his coach gave him a chance on the court. Crowds cheered him on as he made shot after shot. With a three-pointer shooting statistic better than LeBron James, David has been wowing fans ever since.

Image Credit: ABC

We are so inspired by David here at Easter Seals Florida that we had to share his story. His coach’s actions are a reminder of the very mission of Easter Seals. Empowering others leads to great things. Above all, we are reminded by David’s success that everyone can dream big and go the distance. To anyone out there that is overwhelmed by a situation or struggling with some kind of set-back, remember to take the court and give it all you have. Set your eyes on the hoop, because you have the power to make any shot, as long as you believe in yourself.


Friday, March 22, 2013

The extended family at Easter Seals Florida

It’s Feeling Fabulous Friday!

Learning to navigate life when some close to you is diagnosed with a disability is not ever easy. That is why Easter Seals Florida makes it our priority to help anyone in that situation. We are feeling fabulous this Friday morning as our hearts are warmed by a letter from Sablouna. She has written us with such kind words about our staff and program. Thank you so much Sablouna for taking the time to let us know what Easter Seals Florida has done in your life.

Sablouna has given us permission to share her letter below:
Good afternoon,
I wanted to take the time out and write this letter thanking your organization for your support, guidance, follow-up and for the superior level of service I received while utilizing your services. Kalyn my family service coordinator answered all my calls, responded to my emails within 24 hours and believe it or not she was my helping hand when my husband was too busy to help me research autism facts, services and more. At that time, my family members were unaware that my son Devin (pictured to the right) has autism. I was able to keep his diagnosis private because I found an extended family within the Early Steps organization
I was unaware of the various services made available by government agencies in the West Palm area until Kalyn and Thea pointed me in the right direction. I received weekly emails, updates, info about support groups. These ladies made my son's autism their problem.  Kalyn would email me with deadline reminders, appointment reminders and even on the morning of a meeting. She would routinely follow-up with me to see how support coach, Dani, was doing with Devin.
Thea, another angel sent from above, not only would send me contact info for parent support groups, she would answer my personal questions pertaining to having a child with a disability. She would send me booklets, websites, pamphlets and would give me pointers on how to manage my son's autism and how to cope with his disability emotionally. Thea not only introduced me to the various school options for children with autism outside of Child Find but she actually accompanied me on a tour at the Palm Beach school of autism. We scheduled the tour, she assisted me with creating a list of questions I'd want to ask and she stayed there on site waiting for me for over 45 minutes because I got lost, Talk about commitment, talk about superior service, talk about two model employees. I thank the Lord every day for sending these two women into mine and Devin's life. I hope they can impact the next family as positively as they have impacted my life.
Both ladies would call to check in on me to see if I had all of the requested documents. They are truly an asset to the organization. if the organizations reputation depended solely on a few individuals, I would name Kalyn and Thea as stellar employees and warm loving people who go above and beyond their job duties to make sure the children of child find can successfully complete the program, get the treatment they need and transition. I'm indebted, thank you for sharing all of your knowledge, your time, for coordinating the child find meetings, for assigning Dani to my son and for being there to answer my questions, for going on the school tour with me when my husband could not.
For more information about the Treasure Coast Early Steps program, visit or contact us.
Sablouna has made our day and we hope yours as well. Thank you so much for visiting us this Friday.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Hugs on the menu

If you thought you've tried everything a menu could have to offer, you probably haven’t been to Tim’s Place. At Tim’s Place you’ll find breakfast, lunch and hugs. That’s right, hugs. More specifically you can expect a hug from Tim, the restaurant’s owner.

Born with down syndrome, Tim Harris dreamed of owning his own restaurant since the age of thirteen. With a drive for success and a record of accomplishing his goals, his dream is now a reality.  In 2010 his family signed a lease for a building and opened the doors to Tim’s Place. Since opening, Tim has given out over 32,475 hugs to date! This success is shared not only by Tim and his family, but other families facing similar situations.

“We've had several families with young children with disabilities who have come in or written and said, 'I never thought this would be possible for my son or daughter," Harris' mother told KRQE News 13. "It's changing the way they're thinking as they're raising their young children."

A change of thinking is a great start. A change of action is the model Tim and the Harris family now set for others to follow. When we all come together to help others achieve their dreams, we all succeed. Life is a beautiful journey and each individual achieves success when they acknowledge and embrace their abilities, like Tim has. 

Friday, March 8, 2013

A story of inspiration

Feeling Fabulous Friday!

Sometimes stories can truly inspire our hearts and minds. The inspiring words of others can remind us what life is all about. Today, we want to share Jamie Watson's story with you. Jamie is an Orlando City Lion soccer player who believes in helping others. That’s why he and Orlando City Soccer have committed to raise five thousand dollars for Easter Seals Florida, and we couldn't be more grateful. 

Jamie Watson

You know that feeling when you feel so connected to something from the moment you’re first introduced to it? That's the feeling I had when I first learned what Easter Seals was all about. Growing up the youngest of 3 boys, I didn't have a 'normal' childhood like most. My 'normal' was helping my mom Janet, my dad West, and my brother Kevin take care of my oldest brother Brett. Brett was born with cerebral palsy and is mentally and physically handicapped. Always has been, always will be. As Brett has grown up through life and throughout school in particular, I have met hundreds of amazing children like my brother. Being involved in the lives of such amazing young boys and girls just like my brother has had the biggest impact in my life. The pure happiness and genuine love from a special needs child is the realist emotion in this world in my eyes. These kids are truly a gift to this world and, to me, there is no greater feeling than helping put a smile on one of God's beautiful children!

So when I first learned that I could possibly become involved with Easter Seals of Florida, I jumped at the chance. Being a professional soccer player for Orlando City Soccer Club, I know my life has been extremely blessed. I'm so lucky to play the game that I love. With every blessing placed in your life, I feel a strong need to 'pay my blessing forward.' My 'paying it forward' moment is now. By becoming a spokesperson for Easter Seals, I am dedicating myself to spend time with these amazing children, and to help however I can. I ask each one of you reading this now to take a moment and look at the many blessings in your lives. Then take a second to imagine a world where you're not as fortunate, or sometimes, physically or mentally able to enjoy those blessings. There are a lot of children right here in your hometown that would love to have your help-emotionally, time wise, donation wise, anything you can think of that might bring a bit of joy to them! I challenge you to ask yourself, 'how can I help?' I promise to do the same and do everything I can to help as many special needs children in whatever way possible. Together, we can improve the lives of so many young men and women, and make this world a better place. Thank you for joining me on this journey with Easter Seals!


Thank you Jamie and Orlando City Soccer for all you do. Go out and support them at their first game on March 9th! Order tickets today and have a fabulous Friday!!!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Early Intervention changes lives

Our hot topic this Monday…

What is it?
Maybe you've heard the term “Early Intervention” but aren't quite sure what it is or when it is necessary. Don’t feel like you’re alone in that boat. Fortunately, we've got some answers for you. Early Intervention involves facilitating cognitive and emotional development as well as attempting to prevent developmental disability or delays through assessment and therapy provided to children, especially those younger than age six.

Why is it important?
Studies have shown that when 'intervention' occurs at a young age, people with disabilities or special needs lead much more independent lives. Increased independence for children reduces the need for costly life-long care at a later stage of life.
New imaging research even indicates intervention not only leads to behavioral changes, but may even lead to “striking” brain changes.  Early Intervention can also prevent abuse or neglect by giving caregivers much needed coping skills and respite.

What are the signs?
Here are some first signs that a child may need Early Intervention. For a list of additional signs, visit
Easter Seals’ Recognizing Early Warning Signs: Common Motor Milestones.

If your child…

·         Is often unable to locate and pick up small objects that have been dropped
·         Frequently rubs his eyes or complains that eyes hurt; or has reddened, watering or encrusted eyelids
·         Holds head in a strained or awkward position (tilts head to either side or thrusts head forward or backward) when trying to focus on someone or something
·         Sometimes or always crosses one or both eyes
·         Fails to notice objects, people or animals around him when other children do
·         Does not turn to face the source of strange sounds or voices by six months, or if he sleeps through most noises
·         Rubs or pulls at his ears repeatedly; has frequent earaches or runny ears
·         Talks in a very loud or soft voice
·         Does not react when you call from another room
·         Turns the same ear toward a sound he wishes to hear
·         Is not kicking legs and grabbing with hands by age 3 months
·         As an infant, arches back when lying on the back or being held
·         Always seems to favor using one hand over the other before age 2 years
·         Drags or favors one side

If you recognize any of these signs in your child, contact your doctor or a public health nurse immediately. Remember Easter Seals is available to help every step of the way.

Feel like you need to further investigate your child’s situation?
Take this FREE “Ages and Stages” questionnaire (funded by CVS Caremark). 

Friday, March 1, 2013

Peterbrooke Chocolatier of Winter Park Shout-Out!

We are feeling fabulous this Friday. So many wonderful individuals and organizations contribute to the work we do here at Easter Seals Florida. Today we want to thank Peterbrooke Chocolatier of Winter Park for donating 10% of their profits on January 16th to benefit children and adults with disabilities and special needs. Your support is so important.

Peterbrooke Chocolatier of Winter Park makes delicious, European style chocolates and gelato (creamy, Italian ice cream). Their gourmet chocolates are made fresh daily by skilled chocolatiers. They are located on Park Avenue in beautiful downtown Winter Park, Florida. The company is locally owned and operated by husband and wife team, Kevin and Jami Wray. We are supported by a strong team of talented, knowledgeable, friendly, and helpful chocolatiers.

We also want to thank everyone that came out to participate!

We hope you have a fabulous Friday!

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