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July 29, 2015
by Sara Croft   |   0 Comments

Can you believe August is just around the corner and its already time for school supply shopping? For most families, this time of year creeps up way too quickly and we find ourselves unprepared for the school year. Shopping for school supplies is hard enough, but finding the right tools for students with a learning disability can be tricky. Here are seven unique apps that your student can use at school that you can find and use from the comfort of your home.

1. ModMath – ModMath is a free app created by Henry, a student with dyslexia and dysgraphia. This app allows users to type math problems instead of writing them by hand, which proves very helpful for individuals with dyslexia, dysgraphia, and ADHD. The app displays virtual graph paper and a calculator. It also provides the option for the user to print out his/her work, or email it to a teacher. For more information, check out their Kickstarter page.

2. Voice Dream Reader– Voice Dream Reader is a text-to-speech app that offers the widest selection of high quality voices of any accessible reader. With this app, users can read virtually anything such as PDF, Word, and text files in Dropbox, Google Drive and more. Voice Dream Reader is also fully accessible with VoiceOver support for the visually impaired. It is highly customizable to fit each individual’s needs. Children with dyslexia, auditory-processing or vision impairments may find this app especially beneficial. This is a great tool to help children learn how to use adaptive technologies to achieve academic and personal goals.

Speech Selection Screenshot

3. Lectio – Lectio is an app created by a mom from Indianapolis for her son after he was diagnosed with dyslexia. Lectio is very user friendly and does not require an internet connection; simply launch the app, take a picture, and press and highlight a word to have it read aloud. There is also a dictionary feature that can easily be accessed by pressing and holding down on a word.

4. Speech Selection – Speech Selection is not an actual app that you can purchase but is instead already built into iOS5; located in the accessibility features in Apple devices. Much like the app Lectio that was mentioned earlier, this feature allows you to select a paragraph and have it read aloud. The text can be read in a variety of languages and also includes a dictionary option. Unfortunately, it does not allow you to take a picture like Lectio and is only available for Apple devices, but if you would rather not have another app or perhaps do not have the storage for it, here is a wonderful option for individuals with dyslexia, visual impairments, or other learning disabilities.

5. Epic Win – Homework and house chores tend to be extremely mundane for most individuals. For individuals with ADHD, the dullness makes it ever harder to focus and complete chores. Epic Win is an app that transforms these tasks into an exciting game! By “destroying” a task you earn points to level up your character. Homework and chores will never be the same.

6. Inspiration Maps – Inspiration Maps is a visual learning tool that allows students to create organized diagrams and outlines. It is recommended by the International Dyslexia Association for literacy instruction. Inspiration Maps is intended for students in fourth grade and up, however, they do have a version for grades K-5.

7. iThoughts – Many individuals with learning disabilities have several thoughts or ideas they would like to execute into a paper, for example, but many struggle with organization. As a result, they may create a tangled web of both related and unrelated ideas. iThoughts is a unique mind mapping tool that helps students organize these thoughts. With this app, individuals are able to organize their information, thoughts and ideas effectively.

Shopping for school supplies can be tricky but we hope that these apps help ease your transition into the new school year. For more information on apps and assistive technology, visit the INDATA Project at www.eastersealstech.com

Today's post was written by Sam Sanders, Marketing Assistant at Easter Seals Crossroads.

July 15, 2015
by Sara Croft   |   0 Comments

Hungry for something other than your everyday lunch routine? Come and join us on Friday, July 24th from 11:00 a.m – 2:00 p.m in celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Enjoy a hearty lunch at Food Truck Friday on Georgia Street (intersection of Capitol Ave) along with the opportunity to browse adaptive vehicles brought by BraunAbility, Superior Van & Mobility and Easter Seals Crossroads. At noon, Mayor Greg Ballard will speak about how the ADA has impacted the City of Indianapolis. Also, be sure to stop by and meet Case Calvert, one of the members of our five time national power soccer champions, Circle City Rollers Power Soccer Club, and learn about how he drives his accessible van.

Look forward to music from X103 and make sure to grab a Celebrating Accessibility t-shirt (S-XL) for $15.00 to help support the programs at Easter Seals Crossroads. Celebrating Accessibility bumper stickers in the shape of Indiana will also be available. 

Celebrating Accessibility

The purpose of this event is to celebrate the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This is a wide-ranging civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on disability. The ADA was signed by President George H.W. Bush on July 26, 1990. Without the ADA, the programs and services provided by Easter Seals Crossroads would not be as effective – such as our drivers training and evaluation programs. 

Want to learn more about the ADA? Easter Seals is hosting a Twitter chat on Thursday, July 23 at 1 pm CST / 2 pm EST to talk about the ADA's impact and what still needs to be done in the disability rights space. Follow #ADAToday to join in on the conversation.

We can not wait to see you there and celebrate 25 years of ability!

Celebrate ADA

June 29, 2015
by Sara Croft   |   0 Comments

Have you and your family ever been to a polo match? Join us as we gather at Hickory Hall Polo Club on Friday, August 7 and help support Easter Seals Crossroads and Cancer Support Community as the charity partners.

CampAbility Horseback Riding

Image of CampAbility on a horseback riding field trip in 2014

What: Hickory Hall Polo Club 

When: Friday, August 7 at 5:00 p.m.

Where: Hickory Hall Polo Club - 7551 E 100 N, Whitestown IN 46075

Cost: $20.00 cash per car

Hickory Hall Polo Club is the only polo club located in Indiana and is an excellent environment for a unique Friday evening with the family. Gates open at 5:00 p.m., and the match begins at 6:15, however, be sure to get there early for the opportunity to participate in as many activities as you would like.

Experience an evening of polo, games, and food, along with exciting half time entertainment, a wine pull, and a variety of other fun activities. Consider purchasing a VIP ticket for the exclusive opportunity to take a barn tour to see the horses and their living quarters before and after the match. The barn is not open to the public and only a VIP ticket will allow you to enter this beautiful facility.

This is a family friendly event with a variety of kid’s activities available; nonetheless, your pop-up canopies, Frisbees, and footballs are also highly encouraged. Afraid of leaving the dogs home alone? Bring them too as treats will be available.

General admission is only $20.00 per car with the option of an exclusive VIP barn tour for an additional $20.00 per person. Proceeds from the event will benefit both Easter Seals Crossroads and Cancer Support Community. We hope to see you there!

For more information or VIP tickets contact Sam Sanders, Marketing Assistant at ssanders@eastersealscrossroads.org or 317-466-1000.

June 25, 2015
by Sara Croft   |   0 Comments

Riding a bike is something many people take for granted. Some children learn this skill at a very young age while others may experience challenges. That's why we offer iCan Bike in partnership with Rainbow's End Optimist Club and Indy Parks. 

Since 2008, Easter Seals Crossroads has provided iCan Bike to teach children and adults with special needs how to ride a conventional bike in a 5 day summer camp.

Candice Aviles of RTV6 came to Perry Park yesterday to interview Rainbow's End Optimist Club, one of iCan Bike's extraordinary partners, and spread the word about the camp. You can view the segment here.

 

June 23, 2015
by Sara Croft   |   0 Comments

Camp FUEL kicked off their first session this week with a field trip to Distelrath Farms, located off of Raymond Street in Indianapolis. Adolescents ages 11-18 with disabilities or special needs participate in Camp FUEL to benefit from fun and unique experiential learning activities such as field trips, skill building and mentoring.

Campers spent the morning participating in farm chores such as shoveling, planting, picking up sticks, installing lights and other general farm maintenance. After the chores were completed, everyone had plenty of time to meet the animals and have some fun. 

Goats on the farm

Bunnies on the farm

The tech team fixing lights for the farm

This group was building light fixtures to place throughout the farm.

Here you'll see campers removing the soil from several potted plants and dumping it out on this large canvas.

Here you'll see campers removing the soil from several potted plants and dumping it out on this large canvas.

Campers were helping create a trench for better flow of rain water.

Campers were helping create a trench for better flow of rain water.

Campers were helping create a trench for better flow of rain water.

Picking up sticks is a daily activity on the farm!

Picking up sticks is a daily activity on the farm!

Here you'll see campers removing plants and replanting them elsewhere.

Feeding the pigs

Walking back to the farm

Group photo

Camp FUEL is currently full and in session. To learn more about the program, contact Joelle Samples, Respite Manager, at jsamples@eastersealscrossroads.org.

June 19, 2015
by Sara Croft   |   0 Comments

Dean Weseli PhotoToday's post features advisory board member Dean Weseli. Dean joined the board in August 2014 after spending many hours volunteering for Easter Seals Crossroads in programs like CHEER, a respite program for adults with disabilities. Since then, Dean has helped us build new brand awareness and fundraising relationships with the community through our fall Hallow's Eve event and he participates in the development committee on overall fundraising opportunities for the agency. 

Current career: Director of Wealth Management, The Windsor Group, Ltd.

Education Background: Bachelors –Finance from University of Dayton; Masters – MBA with concentration in Finance from University of Cincinnati

Hometown: Indianapolis, IN. I have called Indy home for over 25 years.

How were you introduced to Easter Seals Crossroads?
I first was introduced to Easter Seals as a guest at the Annual Business Lunch. I was very impressed with the organization and the depth of services. It was good timing as I was looking for a way to get more involved in the community.

What have you learned from volunteering in CHEER?
First, I really liked the idea of CHEER, which is a fun night for the adult consumers while their families get a night to relax. I have learned so much volunteering at CHEER and truly have enjoyed the experience. The biggest takeaway for me is experiencing the positive energy and the uplifting spirits of the consumers that participate in CHEER. It really is infectious. I also find it to be very humbling experience to say the least.

Why do you continue to stay involved?
It’s funny, it seems as soon as I think I know most of the services that are offered through Easter Seals Crossroads, I learn of another outstanding service provided. For example, the board recently took a tour of the Assistive Technology Center headed up by Wade Wingler and his team. That was very impressive. Obviously technology moves quickly and the fact that Easter Seals is leading a statewide initiative is something to very proud of.
I mention that because the services provided and all the people I have gotten to know through Easter Seals are at the core of why I stay involved. I hope to continue to be an advocate of the organization for many years to come.

A full list of Easter Seals Crossroads board and advisory board members can be found here. For more information about our board, contact us today.

June 8, 2015
by Sara Croft   |   0 Comments

Today's story was written by Sam Sanders, Marketing Assistant at Easter Seals Crossroads.

Finding the confidence to sign up for a 5K, half marathon, or full marathon is one thing a lot of people are still looking for, but this confidence is just one of the many beautiful characteristics Pamela possesses. Pamela has participated in all kinds of races such as the Walk to End Alzheimer's, JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes, the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon, and many others. This year Pamela has decided to compete in the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon 5K. Pamela's story would be much different without these opportunities to walk, but now she cannot wait to participate in another race with the help of Easter Seals Crossroads. Pamela has been receiving services from Easter Seals Crossroads for two years and is an avid participant in the Adult Day Services.

Pamela with her medalsThe inspiration for Pamela came from her parents who had both passed away from kidney disease. "I saw them go way down with it so I told myself I would take good care of myself and take long walks and exercise and diet and so on. I was 400 pounds and lost a significant amount by diet and exercise," she explained. Pamela began training three years ago, first with a friend and then on her own for the last two years. Pamela enjoys walking alone, but doesn't mind the company when a friend wants to join. Her favorite places to walk with a friend are on the trails at both IUPUI and Butler University. She enjoys the long walks and loves the scenery, especially the fountains at Butler.

A normal day for Pamela begins with a trip to the gym to lift weights, walk on the treadmill, and bike - sometimes at 9:00 a.m. She continues the day at Easter Seals Crossroads where Pamela says they "have fun and enjoy life!" Pamela explains that she is able to participate in a variety of activities, "We go out into the garden and plant flowers and tomatoes and herbs. We go out and play basketball and take walks around the block." Her favorite of these activities is walking with the other clients in the Adult Day program. It sounds like the training never stops for Pamela!

There is nothing holding Pamela back as she looks forward to the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon 5K. She says, "I love walking for Easter Seals Crossroads. You see, my sister was scared the last time when I did a race by myself, but now she's cool with it. Now I can go on and just have fun. She waits for me when the race ends and I hold up my medal!" Pamela loves power walking and plans to do it for this race. She explained, "I'm training now to walk around so I'm not so tired." Her goal is to walk the entire race without stopping.

Pamela has some words of encouragement for anyone who is a competitor or is thinking about racing, "Don't give up. Keep going because it took me five years to walk. I was around 400 pounds and I lost a significant amount by diet and exercise." Pamela brings a smile to everyone's face at Easter Seals Crossroads. She is always a pleasure to be around and makes it a priority to never let anything get in the way of her walking.

You can learn more about Easter Seals Crossroads Adult Day Services at http://www.eastersealscrossroads.org/adult-day-services. Easter Seals Crossroads is proud to be a charity partner with the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon. To learn more about how you can get involved, visit our blog about FirstGiving here. 

June 5, 2015
by Sara Croft   |   0 Comments

When a person comes to us for assistance finding a job, there are many areas where Easter Seals Crossroads can help. From career assessment tests to resume writing and interview skills, our job coaches are preparing people every step of the way to meaningful employment.

Certain jobs often require a uniform or dress code that may or may not include items a person already owns. When you do not have a job, purchasing the required clothing may seem near impossible. Thanks to Worth New York, our job coaches now have several women's clothing options that are on-the-job and interview appropriate.

Worth New York sent three boxes packed with high quality button-down shirts, jackets, dresses and skirts in a variety of sizes to our office. Our employment team has everything hanging up in a closet, available for browsing at any time.

"The Employment Services department of Easter Seals Crossroads is so fortunate to have received this generous donation from Worth Collection. Having the opportunity to pick out a brand new outfit of high quality clothing for interviewing or working, not only enhances the physical appearance of our job seekers, it also truly enhances their self-esteem and confidence," says Marjorie Mansfield, Manager of Employment Services at Easter Seals Crossroads.

Worth clothing hanging up

Valencia picking out what to wear

Valencia looks through the Worth New York clothing and picks out a few options in these photos.

Valencia picking out what to wear

Valencia modeling Worth clothing

Easter Seals Crossroads thanks Worth New York for their generous clothing donation. Providing these additional resources enhances the ability for our job candidates to find meaningful employment. We look forward to following up with Valencia in a few months! Learn more about our employment services at http://www.eastersealscrossroads.org/employment-services.

June 3, 2015
by Sara Croft   |   0 Comments

Image of Troy FriszToday's post was written by Troy Frisz, Project Coordinator at Easter Seals Crossroads. He originally wrote this article on LinkedIN here.

What benefits are there for employers to hire persons with disabilities? Several industry surveys show that employees with disabilities have low turnover rates, low absenteeism, and high productivity. Furthermore, employers may receive tax credits and incentives from state and federal governments. When utilized, employees with disabilities have a strong support system that can provide additional training, accommodations, and/or employer advocacy.

The Great Recession hit the disability population harder than other demographics. The recovery has shown little change in the displaced disabled workforce. In order to stay profitable during the recession employers consolidated job descriptions in order to reduce their workforce. In today’s recovery, job opportunities have increased, but those jobs now require the ability to perform several skills in order to successfully complete all assigned tasks. The days of job carving are long gone.

Over the last 10 years eligible candidates have increased for Vocational Rehabilitation services. The increase is related to veterans, an older generation staying in the workforce, and the redefining definition of disabilities. Currently, few programs address older workers and the new challenges that they face. Veteran programs are often determined on a year to year basis thus doing little to address any on-going services. When a disability is redefined, it is seen as the trendy cause of the moment, often pulling funds from existing programs and rarely encouraging any new funding.

Peter at Butler University smiling at cameraDr. Christopher T. King looks at how the existing system can improve under the WIA. Dr. King is the former director of the Ray Marshall Center for the Study of Human Resources at the Lyndon Baines Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. His study is called “Improving Service for Persons with Disabilities under the Workforce Investment Act and Related Programs: Challenges, Opportunities, and a Way Forward.” This study’s focus is on the difficulties of employment services post recession.

“This paper concludes that employment support programs will benefit substantially from using performance standard adjustments and service incentives. These instruments will lessen unintended disincentives for service providers that the WIA system generates. In addition, data collection is often limited to self-reporting of disabilities, making it difficult to clarify the mix of services that should be provided… Lastly, there should be a concentrated effort to build a collaborative network of partners that involve not only state VR (Vocational Rehabilitation) programs, but other organizations that are tasked with serving individuals with disabilities as well.” (D, King. P 5.)

Tools that are now becoming more readily available are internships and work trials. Internships often provide interns to employers at no cost or commitment. Interns are given a chance to prove their capabilities within a reasonable time frame. Depending on the internship’s funding, interns can be paid a small stipend that will help cover transportation, clothing and food. Work trials are on the job assessments. Often the candidate is followed by their support system to evaluate their capabilities so that an accurate placement can be pursued. At this time these are the most commonly used tools that would be in line with Dr King’s recommendations.

The Connect to Work internship focuses on building job skills and experiences for candidates that have little to no work experience or large gaps in their work history. Through a private grant, Easter Seals Crossroads offers a weekly stipend to their internship candidates at no cost to host companies. Candidates are required to work 15-20 hours weekly for 8 weeks. Host sites are never asked for a commitment of employment at any time during the internship.

Host companies receive the benefit of visible assessing quality applicants. Each candidate goes through a pre-admittance assessment that provides the best qualified intern for each position. Once placed, Easter Seals Crossroads provides worksite training for each intern which is designed to meet the host company’s specifications. Throughout the internship the candidate is assigned both a Project Coordinator and an Employment Specialist that follows the candidate's progression to ensure the best results to both the host company and the intern.

The Connect to Work internship is yet another way that Easter Seals Crossroads is leading the way in Vocational Rehabilitation Service.

For more information, visit our web page about our employment services or contact Troy Frisz at 317-466-1000 or tfrisz@eastersealscrossroads.org

June 1, 2015
by Sara Croft   |   0 Comments

Regions Bank has been a longtime partner with Easter Seals Crossroads. For many years, our holiday ornament was placed in central Indiana Regions Banks to increase sales and visibility. When we received a call asking about our interest in the "What a Difference a Day Makes" contest, we knew we could not turn the opportunity down to work with such a great community-focused business.

Spencer in therapy

Leaders from each of the 19 markets served by Regions selected a nonprofit from their area to be highlighted and to compete in the vote. In commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the American with Disabilities Act (occurring July 2015), each of the organizations nominated serve people with disabilities. Easter Seals Crossroads is honored to be recognized among such well-established nonprofits.

As a nominee for the Regions Bank's "What a Difference a Day Makes" grant contest, Easter Seals Crossroads automatically receives 50 volunteer service hours from Indiana Area Regions associates and a $500 grant from the bank. The winner of the online vote will receive 100 volunteer hours from Regions associates and a $5,000 grant from the company.

We need your help! Here's how you can get involved:

  • Vote daily at www.regionsbanknews.com. Click the green "Vote Now" button and select Easter Seals Crossroads from the list. 

  • Share this blog with your colleagues, friends and family members and ask them to vote. Tell them why you support Easter Seals Crossroads by sharing a link to one of our YouTube videos.

  • Join the Facebook event for daily reminders with quotes, photos and information about Easter Seals Crossroads that explains why people should vote for us. 

Online voting will take place throughout the month of June, concluding at 11:59 p.m. CDT on Tuesday, June 30, 2015. Voters should be at least 18 years of age.