#ChildrenMatter

“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.

Donate Now.

Easterseals is your partner in your child’s development

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: jacob-griffith-1

 

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. Continue reading “Easterseals is your partner in your child’s development”

16 Ways to Prepare Children with Autism for Holidays

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.

Continue reading “16 Ways to Prepare Children with Autism for Holidays”

2016: A Year in Review and A Look Forward

The theme of 2016 at ESNG was expansion. We expanded our programs, reach, events and accreditations. Let’s take a look back at what we did as we get ready for a fun and exciting 2017.for blog

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Last year, we piloted the innovative STEM in early education at our Brookvalley location. Thanks to funding from the Sibley Award and Frances Hollis Brain Foundation, we are expanding the program to our Guice, Mansell and Warsaw locations.

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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. Continue reading “September is National Childhood Obesity Prevention Month: 5 Tips to Keep Your Kids Healthy”

#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!!!”

 

Monthly wrap up – June & July

Don’t get mad at the messenger, but summer break is almost over! We did a lot in June and July and here’s a quick wrap up of our activities:

Awareness:

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We hope you are enjoying the lazy days of summer. When we say lazy, though, we hope you don’t forget the importance of safety during the season of pools, beaches, sun, trips, insects, and heat! Just to help you out so you can go back to enjoying the fun, we’ve put together some quick safety tips.

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They say that parenting is the hardest, yet most rewarding job. Dads play an equally important role in parenting as do mothers, but sometimes their importance gets overlooked. How do Dads make a difference? Here are just 5 of the many reasons why.

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Don’t forget that it’s very important to make sure your kids continue to learn even though they are not going to school in the next couple of months. Here’s a look back at our tips to help you and your kids prevent summer brain drain.

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At ESNG, we believe in inclusive learning. That includes summer camp. Meet Nicholas, who has spina bifida, who attends a fun and engaging summer camp – with just a few accommodations.

Around ESNG:

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This month two of our centers, Brookvalley and Mansell, joined Premier Academy, Madison County, and Warsaw in receiving the prestigious Quality Rating from the Department of Early Care and Learning: Bright From the Start. According to Bright From the Start, “Quality Rated is Georgia’s system to determine, improve, and communicate the quality of programs that provide child care.” We are thrilled to be recognized for our staff’s hard work to educate vulnerable children in Atlanta and northeast Georgia.

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Children at our Mansell location had an exciting visit from local emergency workers. Firefighters and paramedics came by and showed kids what they do to keep us safe. They also talked about what kids need to do to be safe in our communities.

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Our STEM consultant, Garry Harris, was recognized by President Clinton for his achievements in STEM and early education. ESNG is excited to partner with Mr. Harris and have his expertise as we prepare our children with the tools and knowledge they need to be successful in school and life.

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Office Depot Foundation generously donated 300 sackpacks filled with school supplies to us earlier this month. This donation ensures that our children will be ready to learn come August! Thank you, Office Depot.

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Even though it’s summer time, that doesn’t slow down our volunteer program. We had six groups of corporate volunteers from Frazier Deeter, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Kabbage, Cox Automotive, Salesforce, and UPS. These volunteers played with and read to our kids or painted and sanitized classrooms to get them ready for August!

Thank you to all these groups!
Here are photos from the events.

Summer camp: The best week ever…

Attending summer camp is a rite of passage for many kids. If a child has a disability, though, going to summer camp may be more difficult.

Nicholas is an outgoing 11 year old who loves robotics, engineering, and math. When you meet Nicholas, the first thing you notice is that he is happy. He lights up when he talks about STEM, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Camp Invention – oh, and he was born with myelomeningocele, a form of spina bifida.

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Nicholas’s mom, Michele, has always encouraged and supported her son to follow his dreams. So, when he was interested in attending a STEM-themed day camp, she was excited, yet apprehensive. Nicholas requires an accommodation for his medical issue. In the past, she has had a difficult time finding adequate care for Nicholas. “When I called to enroll Nicholas, I talked to Windy [Camp Invention’s director]. She immediately told me, ‘Sure, no problem. We’d love to have him’.”

This is his second summer at Camp Invention in Powder Springs, Ga. Each day of the week he builds solar-powered robot bugs, designs an eco-adventure park and discovers the science of slime. He works in groups with other pre-teens who have no idea of his spina bifida. The camp makes one accommodation for him, and that’s all he needs to participate in one of his favorite activities with some of his favorite people.

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Nicholas receives support from Easter Seals’ Champions for Children program. The program assists families who do not meet the eligibility requirements for the Katie Beckett Medicaid program. Nicholas the support he receives for medical supplies, medical co-pays, and this camp! “This is his favorite week of the summer. That includes our trip to the beach,” said Michele.

 

Enjoy the (not so) lazy days of summer

We hope you are enjoying the lazy days of summer. When we say lazy, though, we hope you don’t forget the importance of safety during the season of pools, beaches, sun, trips, insects, and heat! Just to help you out so you can go back to enjoying the fun, we’ve put together some quick safety tips.

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Sun and heat safety:
If you haven’t noticed yet, it gets quite hot here. Longer days, no school, and lots of outdoor activities just beg for staying outside. However, too much of anything can be dangerous. Sun, heat, unhealthy air are all causes for concern.

  • First and foremost, NEVER LEAVE YOUR CHILD UNATTENDED IN A CAR! The temperature inside a car heats up very quickly. When the outside temp is 70 degrees, after just 30 minutes, the temp inside a car rises to 104 degrees and in an hour, it’s up to 113 degrees. Needless to say, look twice to make sure your loved ones are not left behind.
    • Read about DECAL and Governor Deal’s Look Again campaign here.
    • Tips to prevent heat stroke in children can be found here.
  • WEAR SUNSCREEN – seriously, that’s the most basic of basics on this one! Protect your skin by applying a generous amount of sunscreen at least 30 SPF 15-30 minutes before being out in the sun when your skin is dry. You can never put too much sunscreen on! Rub it in well and don’t forget to re-apply throughout the day because sun rays and water can reduce its effectiveness.
    • For babies under six months, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends dressing infants in lightweight long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and brimmed hats that shade the neck to prevent sunburn. “However, when adequate clothing and shade are not available, parents can apply a minimal amount of sunscreen with at least 15 SPF (sun protection factor) to small areas, such as the infant’s face and the back of the hands. If an infant gets sunburned, apply cool compresses to the affected area.”
    • More information about sunscreen and sunburns can be found here.
  • Plan your day around the sun’s schedule. Try to do all your outdoor activities early in the morning or in the evening after the sun has started to go down.
    • Drink water often
    • Take lots of breaks
    • Wear light colored and lightweight clothes
  • Be aware of the dangers of dehydration. Here are signs and symptoms of dehydration in children.

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Water safety:
Now that we have established it gets really hot here, let’s move down to the pool. It’s a great way to cool off, play, and socialize. To really enjoy the experience, make sure you and your family are safe.

  • Talk to your children about the pool rules. Tell them why they shouldn’t run, dive in shallow water, and why they should listen to the lifeguard.
  • Make sure your children take swim lessons. Whether you teach them to swim or they take private or group lessons, it’s the only way they are going to ensure their safety in the water.
  • Never leave your children in a pool area without you – even if there’s a lifeguard present.
  • If you have a pool at home, install child proof barriers. There should be at least a four-foot tall barrier on all four sides of the pool area, such as a fence with a self- closing gate. In cases where the house is the fourth side, secure doors that lead to the pool area with locks and/or alarms.
  • At the beach, make sure your child doesn’t swim in the ocean alone.
  • Teach your children about rip currents. If you are caught in a rip current, swim parallel to shore until you escape the current, and then swim back to shore.

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Travel safety:

  • Before your next road trip, check your car seat. Did you know that 73% of car seats are not used or installed correctly? Most fire stations can check for you and make any necessary adjustments.
    • Here’s a list of places in Georgia that can check for you. Just call ahead to make an appointment.
  • Don’t forget the car seat even on a plane trip! If you’re planning to travel by air this summer, be sure to bring your child’s car seat onto the plane. Check to make sure the car seat is labeled “certified for use in motor vehicles and aircraft.” For babies and toddlers, this is the safest way to travel.

 

Monthly wrap up – March

Awareness:

March 21st marked World Down Syndrome Day. Celebrated on the 21st day of the third month of the year, the date is symbolic of the third copy of the 21st chromosome that characterizes Down syndrome. At ESNG, we have had the pleasure to provide services to several children who have Down syndrome. Whether they attend our child development centers, receive support from Champions for Children, or receive therapies from our early intervention services. Oliver is a two-year-old boy who has in-home physical therapy to help him reach his milestones. Read his story here.

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March is a great month to highlight two integral parts of our early education and care program: social work and nutrition. Both are so important in creating healthy and happy children and families in our community.

Social work: earlier this month, we met one of our family support advocates, Ms. Kim Tillman. Read about what she does to help families reach self-sufficiency.

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Nutrition: we also learned a lot from one of our nutrition specialists, Teedra Jones. She works with the child development centers to ensure our kids receive healthy and delicious foods to eat every day. Read her tips to incorporate healthy eating habits at home, too.

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We made it to spring – a season in which we can finally enjoy the outdoors. To celebrate the beauty of inclusive sports, we spoke to a pioneer and an everyday athlete on this blog post.

Spring is also a season where we start traveling. Marjan Holbrook gave us some great tips on traveling with children with special needs on this blog post.

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Around ESNG:

“The more you read, the more you know” – Dr. Seuss

It’s not a coincidence that Dr. Seuss’s birthday shares the same month as Read Aloud Month. All of our 11 child development centers celebrated Dr. Seuss’s birthday with lots of fun reading time! At our Winder location, each classroom dressed up as a Dr. Seuss character and participated in a parade around the center. What a great way to bring books to life!IMG_20160304_111107

Brookvalley had an incredible STEM day on Tuesday, March 15. Children, parents, and teachers had a great time making edible cars. Each classroom, including the toddlers, made their version of a car using cookies, candy, fruits, and veggies. Everyone used trial and error to make the most beautiful and delicious looking cars. Here are some great photos from the day!

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On Friday, March 25, Sylvan Hills offered an excellent parenting class at its facility. Darryl Freeman with Fathers Incorporated talked with moms and dads about the importance of having a strong father figure in their children’s lives. There is plenty of research backing this notion. In fact, children who spend quality time with their fathers are 80% less likely to be incarcerated, 75% less likely to become unwed parents, and twice as likely to graduate from high school and enter college.

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Thank you:

Our Guice location received the 2016 Sibley Award to implement a STEM in early education initiative. Funding from the Harland Charitable Foundation and Pittulloch Foundation will improve the educational outcomes for 157 children, engage families in their children’s education, and increase teachers’ professional development. On March 30, ESNG received the award at Guice. Photos of the event can be found here.

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On March 12-13, Century Novus Realty held its first annual Reels for Seals fishing tournament in Lake Wedowee, Ala. The event raised $5,000 for Easter Seals North Georgia’s early education, early intervention, and support services. ESNG thanks Century 21 Novus Realty, sponsors, and participants for their support!

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PNC presented a gift of $6,000 to our Warsaw location. After volunteering at the North Fulton center, bank representatives saw our program in action. As an organization that supports early education programs, PNC’s financial contribution and employee engagement help us to improve the quality of people’s lives.

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At ESNG, we recognize and value the work of our volunteers. March was full of great groups of volunteers that visited many of our child development centers. These include VWR, Comcast YPL, Pinecrest, North Georgia College, Southwestern University, Trinity, Infinite Energy, and Salesforce. Click here for photos of the events.

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