5 Reasons You Should Participate in the Trick or Treat Trot 5K and Family Fun Festival

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Our Annual Trick or Treat Trot and Family Fun Festival is Saturday, October 29 at 9 a.m. at the Infinite Energy Center in Duluth. We are super excited to celebrate with as many families as possible. Hopefully, you don’t need that much cajoling to come run and have fun with us. But, if you do, here are 5 reasons why you should participate:

  1. It’s in a great location– Since Easter Seals North Georgia serves families in the 44 counties throughout metropolitan Atlanta and North Georgia, the Infinite Energy Center is a central location – right off of I-85. There will be lots of parking, too.download
  2. The course is awesome – Well, it’s as awesome as a 5K can be. It is USATF certified and a Peachtree Road Race qualifier. We’ve got about two months until the race so we’ve got plenty of time to start or continue training. If you need help, check out the Couch to 5K program. It will get you well on your way to rock the race.images
  3. Kids Run – After the 5K, kids can participate in their very own 1K run (a little more than 1/2 mile). It’s a great way to get some exercise in a fun way.hulk_kid
  4. Festival – After all the running, it’s time to continue the celebration. Kids will be able to bounce, throw, and craft their morning away. It’s also a perfect opportunity to meet Easter Seals families.bounce_house_inside
  5. Make the First Five Count – Every kilometer you run, walk, or skip will be dedicated to a developmental milestone. I wanted to call them kilometerstones, but as you can imagine that got nixed. I know you’re familiar with the milestones since you read last week’s blog post, right?!

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Okay, so now that I’ve convinced you of why you should come run and party with us, click yourself right over to www.trickortreattrot.com and sign up. You can also form a team (get a $5 discount per participant) and raise money for our great early intervention and early education programs.

Can’t wait to see you out there!

#SuccessStartsHere: Volunteers

Every year, our corporate partners spend over 4,000 hours volunteering their time and talents to Easter Seals North Georgia. Volunteers read to and play with children, clean and sanitize classrooms or do something unique. One such group was from Turner Broadcasting.

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Employees across Turner Broadcasting System – which includes CNN, TNT, Cartoon Network, Turner Sports and many more – donated more than 2,000 books for infants to five-year-old children and their parents.

Team lead Colleen Sullivan met with ESNG several times to develop a plan for a new library in our Sylvan Hills location. Then, on Thursday, September 15, a team of 17 volunteers came to our child development center to do some hard work. For more than four hours, they built, painted and created the most beautiful library our kids have ever seen.

This is a big deal for our families. The average middle-income home has 54 age-appropriate books for children, while a low-income home has zero to two books. As reported by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, in Georgia, only 16% of children ages one to five are read to more than three days a week. Yet, given the opportunity, low-income families are more likely to read to their children. According to pediatrician Dr. Needlman’s literacy study, mothers receiving welfare are eight times more likely to read to their children when provided with books and encouragement (published in JAMA Pediatrics).

Volunteers from Turner created a fun, engaging space for our kids and their parents. Their dedication to spreading the love of reading to all children will make a difference to our children for years to come. And for that and so much more, we thank you!

If you are inspired by Turner’s project, please contact us at volunteer@esng.org to create your own fun venture that will benefit kids in our community!

 

 

 

September is National Childhood Obesity Prevention Month: 5 Tips to Keep Your Kids Healthy

September is National Childhood Obesity Prevention Month

One in 3 children in the United States is overweight or obese. Childhood obesity puts kids at risk for health problems that were once seen only in adults, like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

The good news is that childhood obesity can be prevented. In honor of National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, here are five ways to encourage your family to make healthy changes together.

1. Get active outside: Walk around the neighborhood, go on a bike ride, or play basketball at the park. Fall weather is here and Atlanta and North Georgia have such beautiful parks to hike (often free). Walk up Stone Mountain, hike the trails at Fort Yargo, Victoria Bryant, Unicoi and so many others. Here’s a map to all the state parks in Georgia.

20150424_0941312. Limit screen time: Keep screen time (time spent on the computer, watching TV, or playing video games) to 2 hours or less a day.

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3. Make healthy meals: Buy and serve more vegetables, fruits, and whole-grain foods. Here’s a great resource to get your family to eat healthier.

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4. Add movement games to play time. Sesame Street has some fun ideas to incorporate movement in everyday activities.

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5. Avoid sugar-laden snacks and drinks. Check out Super Nanny’s tips on snacking.

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Taking small steps as a family can help your child stay at a healthy weight.

Bonus tip: Come out to ESNG’s Trick or Treat Trot 5K and Family Fun Festival – hey,you knew it was coming! Older kids can run/walk the 5K (must register), the 1K (free for all) and/or participate in the activities at the Family Fun Festival (free for all). bounce_house_inside

#SuccessStartsHere: Eliavah’s Story

This month we are looking at how ESNG can help your special needs child overcome challenges – social, emotional, or physical – and live, learn, and play fully and freely. One of the many ways we do this is through the Champions for Children program. The program works with families whose children do not qualify for the Katie Beckett Waiver. Their children’s medical needs require so much attention that it’s difficult for them financially. One such child is Eliavah.

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Eliavah is a sweet five-year-old girl who has been in therapies since she was six months old. She was diagnosed at birth with tetralogy of fallot, and underwent open heart surgery at four months old to repair her defects.

Later, after not meeting typical milestones, she was diagnosed with low muscle tone. A team of specialists has followed Eliavah her whole life to try to determine a cause behind her conditions. Although an exact cause has not been discovered, she struggles daily to overcome developmental delays and sensory processing disorder.

In the last two years, she has struggled with sleep issues and possible allergies that affect her daily living. Her family is in the process of trying to detect the cause of these, and how to best help her.

It is because of Champions for Children that Eliavah has been able to continue her needed therapies, and get help with extraneous medical expenses that would be a burden on the family otherwise. She continues to show progress and even spends half of her day in kindergarten in general education class!

She is very proud of her abilities that she has gained through hard work and therapy. She can now read and her writing is improving daily. Her independent skills are also improving in areas such as self dressing and grooming.

She is truly becoming a more confident young lady. Her mother says, “We are forever grateful for the blessing in our lives through Champions for Children. The staff has not only been loving and encouraging, but prompt and professional in helping our family and this makes a huge difference in the lives of parents that have children with needs!!!”

 

Live, Learn, Play for All

Easter Seals is the largest provider of inclusive learning in the country. What exactly does inclusive instruction mean, though?

Inclusive instruction means recognizing, accommodating, and meeting the learning needs of all students. It means acknowledging that all students have a range of individual learning needs and are members of diverse communities. Most importantly, inclusive teaching avoids pigeonholing students into specific groups with predictable and fixed approaches to learning.

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ESNG introduced inclusive learning at our child development centers back in 1992. The innovative program soon became a model for the state of Georgia. Today, we educate and care for 1,503 children, 30% of whom have a disability. We have partnered with Atlanta Public Schools (APS) to offer children with disabilities an inclusive learning environment. There are five collaborative classrooms in our Guice and Sylvan Hills centers with two APS special education teachers and two ESNG teachers.

What are the benefits of inclusive learning?

Children learn from each other. 
Clearly, the children do not know their friends have special needs or require any accommodations. They just see their friends. Children with special needs see typically developing children following directions, singing, dancing, and talking. It becomes a part of their everyday activity and soon will follow those behaviors.

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Children learn to be leaders.
Children with special needs and typically developing children have classroom jobs. They set and clear tables, lead lines, and clean up together. One teacher says, “This year, Kayla has really become a leader. She was in the program last year and knows exactly what to do. She loves setting the table and telling her friends that lunch is ready. I can definitely tell that her confidence has improved remarkably since last year.”

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Children learn from structure.
We encourage families to keep their children in the program for multiple years to get the most out of it. One of the reasons is because children thrive from structure, especially kids with special needs. They know what to expect and what is expected of them. A teacher told me, “Caleb used to throw his toys when it was time to clean up. It took him a couple of months to get used to the schedule, but he got it. Now, he hears the clean up song, grabs the toy bin and puts the toys away.”

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Children learn from play.
That is to say, though, it’s not fun and playful. Children with disabilities – just like children without disabilities – learn from running, throwing, and dancing. Children with low muscle tone can gain strengthen by running on the playground. Children with sensory issues can get used to different textures in a sandbox. And, music helps children with behavioral issues learn to follow directions.

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Children learn empathy.
One of the beauties of childhood is they often don’t see the differences in people. Children in inclusive classrooms see children in wheelchairs and know that they cannot use their legs. Teachers and kids talk about it and kids know that they need to help their friends who need it. Four-year-old children may not know the importance of what they are learning now, but as they meet people with different abilities and thoughts, they will know how to help.

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More info:
The benefits of inclusive learning. One family’s story – http://www.easterseals.com/our-programs/childrens-services/the-benefits-of-inclusive-childcare-for-all-children.html

 

#SuccessStartsHere: Ethan’s Story

Ethan Tumale

At 18 months old, Ethan wasn’t speaking. His mother’s friend told her about Easter Seals North Georgia’s Babies Can’t Wait program. Although Ethan’s parents were concerned about Autism, Babies Can’t Wait service coordinator believed that Ethan would progress with speech therapy.

For the next year and a half, speech therapist Mary Ann came to Ethan’s house once a week for thirty minutes. It took several months, but May Ann was able to engage Ethan in activities. She made learning fun for him as he was a high-energy child.

Ethan’s learning didn’t stop when Mary Ann left, though. “We would see what Ms. Mary Ann was showing him. Then, over the six days that she is not with him, we would continue,” said Ethan’s dad, Jay. She would also recommend activities. For example, moving little pom poms by blowing on a straw was a fun way to work on the mouth muscles needed to form words.

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August is Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month!

This month you’ve gotten your children’s immunizations and made sure they are ready for school. Did that include their eye health? That is an often overlooked aspect of children’s development. August is Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month. Our partners at Prevent Blindness Georgia screen children in our child development centers to ensure Georgia’s children are vision ready for school!

Prevent Blindness Georgia’s website provides valuable information about preventative care, safety and problems eyes belonging to all ages.

Prevent Blindness recommends a continuum of eye care for children to include both vision screening and comprehensive eye examinations. All children, even those with no signs of trouble, should have their eyes checked at regular intervals. Any child who experiences vision problems or shows symptoms of eye trouble should receive a comprehensive eye examination by an optometrist or an ophthalmologist.

Suggested timetables for children’s eye health, based on key children’s health organizations are:

Newborn infants

Newborns should have their eyes checked while still in the hospital nursery. This examination in the nursery should be for general eye health and include a red reflex test. This examination can help detect several congenital eye problems, some of which can be very serious and permanently threaten vision.

During regular well baby exams, from birth to 3 years of age

Pediatricians should use family vision history and a vision assessment to see if vision problems exist. Beginning at well-child exams at age 3 and continuing annually through 10 years of age, vision screenings should be performed assessing your child’s visual acuity and ocular alignment.

If a child fails a vision screening or there is any concern of an eye or vision problem

The child should be referred for a comprehensive professional eye examination. This combination of vision screenings with referral for a comprehensive professional eye examination are the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Association supports a comprehensive professional eye examination performed by an eye doctor at age 6 months, 3 years and 5 years for all children.

Prevent Blindness strongly believes that some children should be directly referred to an eye care specialist for a comprehensive eye examination rather than undergo a vision screening. These include:

  • Children with readily recognized eye abnormalities such as a crossed or wandering eye or a droopy eyelid.
  • Children with known neurodevelopmental disorders in any area (e.g., hearing impairment, motor abnormalities such as cerebral palsy, cognitive impairment, autism spectrum disorders, speech delay). These children have a higher rate of vision problems than those without neurodevelopmental abnormalities.
  • Children with identified systemic diseases known to have associated eye disorders, or those with family histories of a first-degree relative with strabismus, amblyopia, or high refractive error.
  • Children whose parents believe their child may have a vision-related problem.

The above information was republished with the permission of PBGA.