Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Latham Students Learn About Massachusetts State Government

On Monday, April 27th, four students from the Latham School in Brewster visited the State House. They met with the Senate President, learned State House history from a well-informed tour guide, and watched our government in action. The group caught the feeling of political drama because it was a day when the Legislature was debating the raising of the sales tax.
After the students had their picture taken, Senate President Therese Murray, who is the first woman to hold this position, told them that the House of Representatives were debating the raising of the state sales tax. When asked how they felt about raising the tax on candy, all four Latham students were firmly opposed. One observed that, “This would really ruin Halloween.”
Students also experienced first hand the rights of citizenship in a democracy as a group of protesters marched through the halls during their tour, loudly but peacefully. Although the protestors made it difficult at times for the students to hear the tour guide, they learned the importance of freedom of speech, as well as the responsibility of citizens to be aware and involved in the legislative process.

"Information is the currency of democracy."
~Thomas Jefferson

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Come On Out and See the Parade!

Every spring, the town of Brewster hosts an event called Brewster in Bloom. This is a time for the community to enjoy the pre-summer quiet and hopefully some beautiful spring weather to go along with it. There are events, festivals, open houses, a running race and several parties. Brewster in Bloom is a wonderful small town celebration and is one of the reasons why Brewster is such a special town to experience.

Along with all of the other events, there is also the Brewster in Bloom parade. Once again, The Latham School will be entering a float. This years entry is entitled “We are Blossoming at Latham." The parade is one of the times during the year that our small community is able to connect with the larger community in which we exist.

Latham would not be able to be as great as it is if it was not in such a wonderful town as Brewster. Our kids are supported, helped and cared for by many in this small town. From citizens, to emergency personnel and town officers, Brewster takes very good care of Latham.
Brewster in Bloom will take place May 1st, 2nd and 3rd. Please click HERE for additional details. See you at the parade!

"Earth laughs in flowers."
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday, April 24, 2009

Spring Begins with a Running, Jumping, Throwing Start

It is rare to have a spring on Cape Cod that isn't a wet, dreary mess until June, but this year we have enjoyed a semblance of one. This spring has brought along the beginning of our Special Olympics track and field season. Coaches Jessica Majewski, Deb Carroll and Danielle Kinder are leading a full squad to the South Sectional Assessment Round on May 2 at Barnstable High School. We have a number of returning team members, but it is even more exciting to see a high number of first time athletes joining the team. Please support our Latham Hawks as they compete against Special Olympians from around the Cape.
Special Olympics is a very important part of life on the Latham campus. It is our goal to involve as many students as possible in Special Olympics because athletics possess so many potential lessons. It is important for all kids, but especially our kids here, to be active, engaged and running around. The staff at Latham are the backbone of the program and the kids would never have all of the wonderful opportunities they have unless it was for the tireless work of our coaching volunteers.

"There is no telling how many miles you will have to run while chasing a dream."
~Author Unknown

Friday, April 17, 2009

From the Diet and Menu Group

The Diet and Menu group has met three times since Dr. Forster’s visit in February. We are currently working on upgrading the menu to make it more “user friendly” for both the staff and the individuals. We are also in the process of color coding the sheets, so that it is more apparent what types of foods the individuals are eating. This will assist the staff in preparing the meals, but can also be a teaching tool for the individuals in proper nutrition and eating a balanced diet.
Another goal of the group is to increase consistency in how the menu is used. Our next meeting is on April 21st in the kitchen of the former administration building. Please come and join us and share your ideas!

"The biggest room in the world is the room for improvement."
~Author Unknown

A Report From the Behavior Group

One of the biggest areas of concern when our group first met was the lack of sexual education for the PWS adults. This has been an issue we have discussed for a while and have consulted with both Dr. BJ Goff and Dr. Forster about. Both doctors agreed that sex education has to be handled very delicately since all that is taught will be put into practice by our clients, and many with PWS will not understand the potential consequences of those actions. It was decided that all sex education will be handled on an individual basis and will be dealt with as issues come up.
Prior to Dr. Forster’s visit this fall, there were a number of regular behavior problems in Children's Services. In order to address this more effectively, we put schedules up in the dorms and began planning lots of activities. The students rely on the schedules now. We have seen a dramatic decrease in anxiety for students since the consistency and predictability of their day is in a highly visible location. Our Adult Services staff also pays very close attention to the level of structure and has seen similar benefits.

Another area of concern was how to help our students and adults organize their rooms. After much discussion one of the staff from the Adult Program shared how they deal with this issue. He said, “When things start seeming crowded or overwhelming, staff go and help weed out and sort through the mess.” Children’s Services adopted this technique and staff worked together to weed out and neaten the boys rooms. When they returned from school they were told that every morning when they leave for school nothing should be on their floors. We did this a month and a half ago and their rooms are still looking as neat and clean as the day staff did the clean up.

"Part of courage is simple consistency." 
~Peggy Noonan

Recreation and Exercise Group on the Move

The Recreation and Exercise group presented information about activities to Dr. Forster on her last visit. In both adult and children services, we are attempting to schedule a wider variety of activities that are therapeutic for all involved. As a result of our initial meetings, members of the group have already sprung into action and are moving forward on their ideas.

Staff members scheduled arts and crafts activities and walks at various locations. One residence has combined long nature walks with photography that helps clients get exercise while enjoying this hobby. We have plans for puzzle nights, karaoke nights, and other group celebrations. We had a very successful St Patrick's Day party! There was music, dancing and everything green! It was a big hit!

With the spring finally up us on Cape Cod, we are looking at how to incorporate more walking, biking and outdoor enjoyment.

"Skipping is just jumping for joy, step after step."
~Jessi Lane Adams

Monday, April 13, 2009

Training Group Presents Progress

The Training Group presented their progress to date at a meeting with Dr. Janice Forster and Latham staff held at the Brewster Ladies Library on Wednesday April 1, 2009.

The Group has defined their goals as: Developing a training manual which will be a comprehensive approach to the treatment and management of Prader Willi Syndrome in children and adults. The group is working on methods for cross training adult and children services staff, methods for evaluating the effectiveness of the trainings, and methods for ensuring that training is delivered in a variety of formats and is continually updated with the latest research. Many trainings have been organized to date. The topics include:

  • Sensory Integration
  • The PWS Personality
  • PWS - What providers and educators need to know
  • Core Symptoms
  • Medical and Psychiatric Management of PWS
  • Behavior Management of PWS
  • Educational Considerations
  • Educational and Social Issues for Adolescents with PWS
  • Transition from Adolescence to Adulthood
  • Food Behavior and Beyond
  • School Strategies for Success

Topics in development:
  • Positive Behavior Support Plans
  • Vocational Placements
  • Healthy Relationships
  • Life Span/Aging Issues

The Training Group meets monthly in the Clinical Director's office and are encouraged by the success so far.

"The great thing in the world 

is not so much where we stand, 
as in what direction we are moving." 
~Oliver Wendell Holmes

Facilities Group Looks at Smart Technology

Since this fall, the Facilities Action Group has been looking for ways to improve. On April 1st, we presented some of our findings to Dr. Janice Forster and the rest of the Latham community at the Brewster Ladies Library. The future at Latham is very exciting!

One of the main areas we have focused on is Smart Technology. Some of the technology we found were refrigerators with combinations, smart stoves that act as refrigerators, and new ovens that have incorporated technology that make them easier and safer to operate. There are locked Med boxes that have alarms to remind people to take their meds, advanced timers for lights, and improved temperature control devices for showers. We have looked at this technology for new construction and for implementation into existing residences. Along with all this technology, we have also discussed how to help substitute staff better operate in the homes. This includes new standardization for sub keys and info for subs coming into the house.

"Computing is not about computers any more. It is about living."
~Nicholas Negroponte

Friday, April 10, 2009

Dr. Forster Impressed With Continued Excellence

Latham has been working with Dr. Janice Forster to find new ways to improve upon our PWS programming. Following her visit this fall, Action Groups were created that focused on specific areas and looked at ways to fine tune what we are already doing. These groups are a mixture of adult and children’s staff, administators, supervisors, nursing and direct care staff. This is an all agency drive to excellence. There are five groups that are presently in existence and who meet bi-weekly to discuss the issue and strategize a plan for the future. The five groups are focused on training, recreation, diet, facilities and behavior.

On April 1, Dr. Forster returned to Latham to check on our progress during an all staff meeting held at the Brewster Ladies Library. Over this two hour meeting, the five groups were able to report on their individual progress and all of the Latham community was able to share in the general discussion. This was a very positive, vibrant meeting that left all who attended feeling refreshed, focused and intent on creating positive change. Look for reports from each of these groups in upcoming postings.

Pictured left to right: Anne McManus- Executive Director, Dr. Janice Forster, Jonathan Smith- Director of Children's Services, Jane Blum-Director of Nursing.

"Progress is the activity of today and the assurance of tomorrow."

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday, April 3, 2009

Nauset and Racepoint Classes hosts Independence House guest

On March 9, 2009, Nauset and Racepoint classes hosted a guest from Independence House in Hyannis. Lauren Titus, Education Coordinator, presented a program that explained what Independence House does and how it acts as a resource for individuals in abusive relationships.

Lauren directed a game for students that focused on identifying situations or actions that were healthy and some that were not . Students actively participated and there was lively discussion and a free expression of ideas. A brief video also shared some teens experiences with relationships that showed warning signs that might indicate an unhealthy trend. At the end of the program students completed an Evaluation Form.

This is one of the first partnerships with an outside agency to provide important and helpful information as our students plan for Transition to an adult life.

"Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does."
~William James

Cairre and Me

As a member of the Companion Animal Program (CAP), I have had many wonderful and remarkable experiences. CAP is a Pet Therapy Program which visits various sites on Cape Cod throughout the year.

As a result of my CAP years, I became involved with Latham. Latham is a remarkable school and residential community. Currently I am President of the Board of Directors at Latham, but before that I became the “Visiting Friend” for Cairre Bailey, a young woman who has been at Latham for some time.

Cairre Bailey and I are friends. Each month we do something fun. Her choices are going to the mall, going to the movies, or going out to eat. My choices are a walk on the beach, a walk with Holly, or a picnic. So we compromise and try to do something new each time. We have been to the Glass Museum, The Natural History Museum, she has come to our home, and all the things (from her side and mine) mentioned above.

Through Latham and CAP I have known Cairre for years, but as her Visiting Friend we have become closer. She and Holly have become close. When Cairre comes into the room, Holly wiggles all over.

This picture was taken at the CAP Christmas party last December. Cairre loved seeing all the other dogs and watching the Canine Capers dance. Cairre says, "Being with Deb is like having a family again. She’s like my mother to me. She does a lot for me. Holly is amazing. It’s like having my own pet again. I love to walk Holly and see her.”

"Hold a true friend with both of your hands."
~Nigerian Proverb

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Words of Encouragement and Hope From Latham Residents...

In an effort to fully represent what Latham Centers is all about, we've begun creating and posting video clips. Within this post are three interviews with residents of the Latham community. Their stories are full of hope and strength, serving as wonderful examples of success that anyone can benefit from.

"And in today already walks tomorrow."
~Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Brewster Falls Class Success!

On Friday, March 20th, students of Latham School gave powerpoint presentations in the school library for an audience of teachers, special education assistants and classmates. The Brewster Falls class had been working on a unit called "Systems of the Human Body" for several weeks. Each student created their own powerpoint presentation complete with details about their chosen system - muscular, respiratory, excretory, skeletal, circulatory, reproductive and nervous system. Each student showed their powerpoint and gave a verbal presentation to the group. Their classmates cheered them on! This is the first time that Latham students have used powerpoint to complete presentations to show their learning.

We greatly appreciate the efforts of the Brewster Falls staff - teacher Suzanne Requa-Trautz, M. Ed. and Emily LaZott, educational assistant with helping the students achieve this great success. We are so proud of the Brewster Falls class!

Keep your eye on this blog for more updates on the academic strides being made at the Latham School.

"An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest."
~Benjamin Franklin

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Two Honored at DMR Recognition Breakfast

Latham Centers was extremely proud to have an individual from our program and a member of our staff honored at this years DMR recognition breakfast. Sharon Henkel was acknowledged for her many accomplishments in spite of numerous medical challenges over the past year. Sharon is a valued employee at Latham Centers where she works answering the telephone. Also honored at the event was Chris Francis, vocational counselor who has worked tirelessly with Sharon, supporting her throughout the year. Both Sharon and Chris recieved citations from Representative Cleon Turner and Senator Robert O'Leary. They also recieved a plaque from the DMR Citizens Advisory committee recognizing their achievements.

"Success seems to be largely a matter of hanging on
after others have let go."
~William Feather