A A

Blog

April 27, 2015
by Sara Croft   |   0 Comments

Summer is just around the corner and we’re looking for volunteers to help with our summer programs for children and adolescents with disabilities and special needs. If you’re able to offer your time, please contact Tessa Barnard at tbarnard@eastersealscrossroads.org.

The following opportunities are available:

CampAbility is a traditional summer day camp for children with special needs ages 4 to 10 that provides indoor and outdoor activities that explore sensorimotor experiences, expand communication skills, and enhance social skills in a fun and nurturing environment. CampAbility is held at Hilltop Developmental Preschool (1915 E. 86th St., Indianapolis). There are three, two-week sessions beginning June 15th and ending July 23rd. Volunteers will assist camp staff during regular camp days and field trip days. Volunteer shifts are either full day from 8:45 am to 3:00 pm or only during the duration of the field trip, whichCampAbility kids playing outside could include transportation to and from the location. This is an ideal opportunity for students interested in physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech-language pathology or special education due to the heavy focus on activities designed around those principles. Volunteers must be at least 16 years of age.

Camp FUEL is a summer day camp for adolescents ages 11 to 17 with disabilities and special needs who want to enjoy Fun and Unique Experiential Learning activities like skill building and visits from special guests, to field trips and peer mentoring. Camp FUEL is held at Easter Seals Crossroads (4740 Kingsway Dr., Indianapolis). There are two, two-week sessions beginning June 22nd and ending July 16th. Volunteer shifts are all-day from 8:45 am to 3:00 pm. Volunteers will act as peer mentors for camp participants and therefore, must be between the ages of 11 and 17 years old.

iCan Bike, presented in partnership with Rainbow’s End Optimist Club and Indy Parks, is a special needs bike camp for participants over 8 years of age to learn how to ride a conventional bicycle. iCan Bike is held at Perry Park Ice Skating Rink (451 E. Stop 11 Rd., Indianapolis) from June 22nd to June 26th. Volunteers act as “spotters” for the riders by walking/jogging/running alongside the participant and providing physical support and encouragement. We ask that volunteers sign up for the same 75-minute session each day for all five days, that way they have the opportunity to bond with their rider and see the progress they’re able to make throughout the week. Volunteers must be at least 16 years of age.

April 20, 2015
by Sara Croft   |   0 Comments

Fran GaleToday's post features Fran Gale, who has spent over 12 years as a board member and advocate for Easter Seals Crossroads. During her time with us, Fran has brought numerous corporate partnerships and individuals to us to further extend the reach of who we serve. 

Current Career: Retired as president of Gale Force Software Corporation

Education: Bachelor of Arts, Indiana University – French and Journalism

Hometown: All over the US, England, and Germany – raised in an Air Force family (my father was in the Air Force for 27 years, serving as a fighter pilot in Korea and retiring as a base commander). Accepted a job with Eli Lilly and Company upon graduation from IU and have lived in Indianapolis ever since.

How did you become introduced to Easter Seals Crossroads? I worked with an individual who was on the board of Easter Seals Crossroads, and he invited me to a breakfast meeting to learn more about the organization (he knew that my grandfather was in administration with the Indiana School for the Blind and that I had volunteered there while I was a college student). I was later invited to consider joining the Board of Directors, and I immediately became involved in supporting the work of the organization. I have served as a volunteer, advisory board member, board member, and executive committee member since joining the organization in 2003. I have recruited other people to serve on the board, and they have all become strong ambassadors of the unbelievable work done by the Easter Seals Crossroads team.

Why do you continue to stay involved?  Once I started meeting children and adults who have benefited so greatly from the services they have received from Easter Seals Crossroads, my passion for supporting this work continued to grow. It is hard to wrap your mind around all of the services offered and the people whose abilities are enhanced through receipt of those services – it’s almost overwhelming to witness the difference that Easter Seals Crossroads makes in people’s lives. One encounter in particular has stayed with me over the years: I went to the graduation day of the I Can Ride program that teaches children how to ride two-wheeled bikes. As I was leaving, a young mother approached me and asked if I had a child in the program. I told her that I did not but that I was a board member of Easter Seals Crossroads and that I wanted to attend the final training and graduation. She burst into tears, gave me a hug, and told me what a huge difference learning to ride a bike was making in the life of her seven-year-old son. He could finally join the neighborhood kids on their bikes, and his self-esteem had risen unbelievably. She wanted me to convey her thanks to others at Easter Seals Crossroads. I still get tears in my eyes when I think about this one experience, and there have been many others that continue to renew my commitment.

April 17, 2015
by Sara Croft   |   0 Comments

Today’s post was written by Tessa Barnard, Volunteer & Community Outreach Coordinator at Easter Seals Crossroads.

The week of April 12-18, 2015 marked National Volunteer Appreciation Week as established by an executive order from President Richard Nixon over forty years ago. Every sitting U.S. President since Nixon has made a proclamation recognizing the service of American citizens in their communities. President Barack Obama had this to say regarding the strength and spirit of service in this year’s National Volunteer Week Proclamation:

As a Nation, our greatest resource is our people. We each have the power to strengthen the fabric of our society and make the world a better place. Every day, Americans across the country realize this enormous potential through service to others and by giving back to their communities. During National Volunteer Week, we recognize those who embrace a life of active, energetic, and engaged citizenship, and we reaffirm our belief that all people have something to contribute to the American story.

This spirit of service is deeply embedded in our culture and vital to our national character. It reflects the idea that we are each our brothers' and our sisters' keepers, and it is a core part of being an American. Through service, ordinary people can make an extraordinary impact. In times of tragedy, volunteers are a source of comfort and resilience; in places of great need, they offer hope and renew our faith that a brighter day lies ahead; and in small neighborhoods and bustling cities, these dedicated individuals help build ladders of opportunity for people of all ages and backgrounds. Volunteers -- often with few resources and little recognition -- make enormous sacrifices to lift up the people around them as well as those they may never meet. As they do, they give new life to the values that bind us together as Americans and to the promise that those who love their country can change it.

For the second year, Easter Seals Crossroads has held a Volunteer Appreciation event at Latitude 360 to thank its volunteers for giving over 10,709 hours of their time in 2014 to children and adults with disabilities, special needs, or challenges. Volunteers from nearly every program were treated to a delicious appetizer buffet, exciting video and redemption games, silly photos, and bowling. Check out some of the great photos from that evening:

If you’re interested in volunteering with Easter Seals Crossroads, please visit our Volunteer page or contact Tessa Barnard, Volunteer & Community Outreach Coordinator, at tbarnard@eastersealscrossroads.org.

April 16, 2015
by Sara Croft   |   0 Comments

April is Autism Awareness month, but at Easter Seals Crossroads we understand how autism impacts families much more than just one month out of the year. Thanks to support from community partners and donors, we are able to provide a unique combination of autism resources that help children transition into teens and adults and provide much needed care and support for their families.

Touched by Autism Jewelry Line

Our Touched by Autism jewelry line allows you to be fashionable and show your support for autism no matter where you go. Each piece of jewelry represents a child being supported by an adult figure. This figure is a parent, a grandparent, a sibling, an educator or a health care professional; this figure can be you.

This unique jewelry line can become a talking point the next time you are in line at the grocery store, talking with neighbors or while you are attending a community event. It gives you the opportunity to talk about why you are an advocate for people with autism and share how you became connected with Easter Seals Crossroads. 

Visit the Touched by Autism jewelry page on our website to see the full list of jewelry available for purchase and to place an order. 

March 17, 2015
by Sara Croft   |   1 Comment

Heather HaliburtonToday's post features advisory board member Heather Halliburton. Heather joined us in 2014 and since then has helped us build new brand awareness and fundraising relationships with the community through our fall Hallow's Eve event and the Ability Lunch. In addition to our current events, Heather has also brought us several new event and fundraising opportunities and proves to be invested in our mission of improving the lives of children and adults with disabilities, special needs and challenges.  

Current career: Director of Human Resources, Stonegate Mortgage

Education Background: Bachelors – Marketing, Management from IU Kelley School of Business; Masters – Human Resources Development from Villanova University

Hometown: Carmel, IN; Lived in Indianapolis over 20 years

How were you introduced to Easter Seals Crossroads?

I first came to know Easter Seals Crossroads through United Way’s Leadership Program. We had a meeting at the agency and Patrick Sandy, President and CEO of Easter Seals Crossroads, gave a quick introduction to the agency, the services and its mission. I remember being rather awestruck at the diverse offerings and the depth of its reach into the community. It struck a chord with me and I felt compelled to build a relationship where I could contribute in some way to support everything going on here.

What about the United Way Leadership Program was appealing to you? Can you speak to your interest in working with and volunteering for nonprofits in general?

I applied to the United Way Leadership Program because I was interested in getting involved in joining the board of a nonprofit, but I wanted to be better educated about what that meant before I sought a place to serve. The United Way program gave extremely valuable experiences to learn how boards work (the good, the bad and the ugly) as well as exposure to the real issues facing our community. The knowledge gained through that year long program with stay with me forever and make me a much more valuable board member.

Why do you continue to stay involved with Easter Seals Crossroads? Is there a personal connection we can share?

I have been so impressed with everyone I have encountered at Easter Seals Crossroads. There is such passion and commitment to consumers and their families – it’s a great community. Things like sitting with Brian Norton, Manager of Clinical Services in the Assistive Technology Center, while he walked a consumer through assistive software challenges, to board and development committee meetings, to hearing consumer success stories have been so insightful and rewarding. I continue to stay involved with Easter Seals Crossroads and explore ways raise awareness along with fundraising because I think the work the employees are doing is so very critical and beneficial. I just want to do what I can to help people get access to services that can improve quality of life for individuals and their families.

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.

March 13, 2015
by Sara Croft   |   0 Comments

Easter Seals Crossroads is proud to recognize Century 21 Scheetz for ranking ninth in the nation for their fundraising efforts to our organization.

Since 2006, Century 21 Scheetz has been the presenting partner of Bingo Bonanza, our annual special event that raises money to support our children's services such as physical, occupational and speech therapy. In addition to this event, Century 21 Scheetz has raised funds through their own signature events and charitable foundation. Over $300,000 has been donated during their 10 years of partnership.

Tracy Hutton Century 21 Scheetz President

Tracy Hutton, President of Century 21 Scheetz, at Bingo Bonanza

On top of monetary donations, Century 21 Scheetz works with their partners to solicit sponsorships for Bingo Bonanza and each of their offices is in charge of create a prize package. This year, almost all of the prize packages were valued at $1,000 in cash, gift cards and more. 

Thanks to this partnership, we are able to provide a fun night of bingo all to support children and adults with disabilities, special needs or challenges. Watch this video produced at the 2015 event to see why you should attend next year! 

March 9, 2015
by Sara Croft   |   1 Comment

Our Manager of Adult Day Services Tracy Wright has taken the past 2 years to bring art into the regular programs available through Community Day Supports. With the help of staff, interns and volunteers, multiple pieces of art have been created and sold through art exhibits or by commission. In today's post, Tracy and her intern Mu-Chien Tsai explain how art programming is beneficial for adults with developmental disabilities. 

Group Art Project

What is art therapy?
Art therapy is a unique approach in working with individuals of all ages using trained clinicians. This type of therapy helps those involved to express feelings and thoughts, enhance self-esteem and self awareness, promote well-being, increase communication skills, and increase coping skills, just to name a few.

How are you implementing art therapy at Easter Seals Crossroads?
Mu-Chien usually spends one or two sessions interacting and assessing his clients, writing down their strengths, limitations, needs, and possible goal(s). The materials and approaches will be adjusted and changed based on the clients’ needs, goals, and choices. From his perspectives, giving clients the opportunity to choose is very important because they already experienced a lot of limitations in their lives, and this would be a good opportunity for them to retrieve some freedom and their own voices. Sometimes Mu would combine the tasks with current events, like Christmas and Valentine’s Day, to increase the clients’ interests and motivation.

With the implementation of art therapy at Easter Seals Crossroads, we have found that most of the clients within the Community Day Supports programs have expressed an interest in art. Art therapy has now grown into a full art program that includes art therapy, art classes and exploration, art shows and sales, and individual and group art sessions!

Mu with Catina

How many people participate in art program with us?
More than 35 clients have participated in formal art therapy sessions. Currently over 100 clients have participated in some aspect of art programming.

Have you come across any challenges with art programming, such as getting people involved who do not want to participate or adaptations that needed to be made due to a visual, physical or hearing disability?
It is normal to experience challenges working with individuals. As with everything we do, we focus on individuals’ abilities and strengths and build a program around the individual. We adapt the project to fit the needs of the group or individual. As an example, we have many who have limited movement in their hands or arms. Art can then be created with adapted art utensils using mouth pieces or foot pieces. Our popular adaptation of wheelchair art is when the wheelchair itself becomes a paint brush with simple adaptations allowing clients to create art by rolling on canvas.

Catina and Gina with egg art project

What have been favorite art program projects?
We have had many art program highs in the last year. We have been commissioned for many art pieces by individuals and corporations. We’ve held several art shows and exhibits highlighting our clients’ pieces. One of our favorite projects has been creating pieces that have been used as greeting cards and special events promos.

Garden Affair

How can the public get involved? 
We’re always appreciative of the donations of art supplies such as canvases, brushes, paints, clay, glue, mod podge, etc. If you are an artist yourself or just have a passion for art with some creative skills, we are always looking for volunteers to work and teach individuals and small groups. Finally, the easiest way to get involved is to come to an art exhibit and show your support.

Volunteers with art program

For more information, please contact us online or call 317-466-1000.

 

March 6, 2015
by Sara Croft   |   0 Comments

Indianapolis resident Case Calvert recently announced he will represent the USA as a member of the US National Power Soccer Team in the 2015 Powerchair Football World Cup.

We first met Case in 2012 through a relationship with Community Health Network, our presenting sponsor of the 52nd Annual Ability Lunch with keynote speakers Emma Preuschl and Nick Springer. Case asked to meet Nick and Emma, so we arranged a dinner the night before the event to introduce everyone and discuss our common interests.

Case has been a member of the Indianapolis' Circle City Rollers, a competitive power soccer team that travels across the Midwest region for power soccer games. He previously represented the United States in 2011 and assisted in winning the team's second World Cup.

"It is a great honor for me to represent the USA knowing that the hard work and love I put in this sport has paid off. This gives me the opportunity to represent all those people in my life who have truly made me the Power Soccer athlete I am today! As a member of this team I have made a commitment to my fellow athletes, staff, and coaches. Part of my commitment is to participate in weekly drills, multiple training camps around the US, traveling, and personal fundraising," says Case.

Please join Easter Seals Crossroads in wishing Case good luck with his practices, games and traveling this year! You can learn more about Case on his Facebook or Twitter or by visiting www.powersoccerteamusa.net

Case Calvert

Case Calvert pictured in the middle of this team photo!

March 2, 2015
by Sara Croft   |   0 Comments

The INDATA Project at Easter Seals Crossroads is hosting a free full day training on the topic of assistive technology for people with brain injuries. Taught by our assistive technology clinicians, this training will offer an introduction to brain injury followed by individual sessions on assistive technology for physical, communication and cognitive impairments. 

WHAT: Brain Injury and Assistive Technology Full Day Training

WHEN: Friday, March 27 from 9:00 AM to 3:30 PM (Lunch is provided)

WHERE: Easter Seals Crossroads 5th Floor Conference Room

Anyone interested in learning the assistive technology that is helpful for those who have experienced a brain trauma should attend. Vocational Rehabilitation counselors, assistive technology specialists, rehabilitation specialists, social workers, parents, educators, students,professionals and health care providers can benefit from training content.

CEU's will be offered for this training to those who attend in person. Please register on the Eventbrite page for attending in person or online at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/brain-injury-and-assistive-technology-full-day-training-tickets-15603540610

For questions or to request accessible accommodations, please contact Nikol Prieto at nprieto@eastersealscrossroads.org

Brain Injury and Assistive Technology Full Day Training

February 25, 2015
by Sara Croft   |   0 Comments

Becky LohmanToday's post was written by Becky Lohman who has worked at Easter Seals Crossroads for 15 years, mostly in the Employment Division, as a Training Specialist and Benefits Liaison.

I recently celebrated my 15th service anniversary as an employee with Easter Seals Crossroads. Every day at work, I see firsthand the scope of services and feel the impact that our agency provides to adults and children with disabilities and their families. But, the work that we do as an agency was never more evident to me than last year when I was asked to help supervise preparing archived paper files of our consumers for digital imaging. The records would then be scanned and shredded at Crossroads Document Services, a division of Crossroads Industrial Services, whose production facilities are staffed primarily by those with disabilities.

As a computer trainer and IT staff member, I was very happy about “going digital.” It was the next logical step in our effort to become paperless. Most of our departments had already transitioned to using a secure Electronic Medical Records (EMR) database to track current consumer records and staff caseloads. We now would have a system to quickly access these archived records for our consumers, who often return multiple times for help as they progress through life.

So along with my colleague, Crista McIntosh, and six production workers who each had a disability, I quickly learned how best to remove staples from fragile, old computer or typewriter paper; smooth out wrinkled (sometimes coffee-stained!) pages; and keep a sharp eye out for paperclips, Post-it notes, or anything else that could cause a scanner to jam. I soon was wearing funny-looking rubber finger and thumb tips that allowed me to shuffle through thousands of pages a day. I even had to break down and buy a pair of reading glasses!

By the time the project came to an end, over 16,000 consumer records were prepared for the scanning process. As I was working through the last group of files, I took a moment to look around me. Surrounded by hundreds of cardboard file boxes stacked on wood pallets, I was overwhelmed by that swelling of warmth and emotion that you feel inside your heart.

Becky in group CST training room

Every file we had prepped--some with hundreds of pages of notes and reports, others with just a few sheets of documentation--has its own story. One that Easter Seals Crossroads helped to write over the years. These just weren’t pieces of papers stuck inside brown cardboard boxes. I was surrounded by people’s hopes and goals; setbacks and pain; triumphs and struggles; and most important their ABILITY to overcome.

Whether on paper or in digital format, there’s just no way to truly record what Easter Seals Crossroads has done and the chapters we will continue to write with our consumers, their families, and the community!