Friday, May 28, 2010

Latham’s Prader-Willi Syndrome Social Skill’s Group: Part Three

May is PWS Awareness Month. Our Social Skill’s groups met to do our part to increase awareness. This included young men and women between the ages of 13-21. We answered the following questions together. Some of these are questions that the PWSA (USA) Advisory Board answered at the end of last year in the newsletter. Some are questions from the book; “Prader-Willi Syndrome Is What I Have Not Who I am!” We are hoping to have our answers published in the second addition. Thanks for taking the time to read our answers and getting to know us!

It is hard to be a good friend when…

You are in a bad mood, you have different opinions, they are not being respectful…

What makes me special?

Being helpful, being kind, being a friend, being respectful, being sweet, being complimented, being honest, Special Olympic medals

My personal goals:

To go to college, Project Forward, jobs (office assistant, police officer, construction worker, president of the whole wide world), continue education, be a vet, behave, be safe, to go home, be a good big sister, having children, good day in school, not picking, working with others with PWS, giving recued animals a second chance/home, getting married, find old love, help wild animals…

What do you want others to know about living with PWS?

We have food disorders, we can be obese if not watched with food, we can have a hard time growing—we might need growth hormone, sometimes we get extra sleepy, we are very curious—we like to get information, sometimes we have problems with muscle tone and balance, sometimes we aren’t fully developed—we don’t always get Periods, most of us seem to wear glasses, sometimes things are hard for us, sometimes life is hard, we are people too, we have feelings, life isn’t awful, we have special needs, sometimes we have one foot longer than another, we’re friendly, we can be nice and kind, it is hard for us to deal with tragedies, because of our trouble with balance we might not be able to ride two wheeled bikes, it is hard on our parents to keep us safe/secure, we are hard workers, we are awesome…

"The great majority of men are bundles of beginnings."
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Latham’s Prader-Willi Syndrome Social Skill’s Group: Part Two

May is PWS Awareness Month. Our Social Skill’s groups met to do our part to increase awareness. This included young men and women between the ages of 13-21. We answered the following questions together. Some of these are questions that the PWSA (USA) Advisory Board answered at the end of last year in the newsletter. Some are questions from the book; “Prader-Willi Syndrome Is What I Have Not Who I am!” We are hoping to have our answers published in the second addition. Thanks for taking the time to read our answers and getting to know us!
What makes me feel anxious?

Waiting for parents to come, home visits, seeing others going on home visits, level system, when people let you down, weight related issues, when we do not get the right food, waiting for meds…

What makes me angry?

When you get dropped a level, when people don’t mind their business, when people don’t share, when you get accused of something, when people call you names, when people are bossy, someone telling a lie, getting a bad grade…

What are the issues in your life where you need better control?

People being unsafe around you, safety around food, anger, handling emotions, following directions, handling someone you know dying, disagreeing with others, my behavior, my laundry, meds., problems with family, social skills, money, budgeting, buying food, driving, water temperature, school work, showers/hygiene , stopping picking, When I’m missing people, dealing with extra food around, time management, boundaries, exercise…
What makes a “good friend?”

Being kind to peers, sharing (Wii), respecting others, listening when someone speaks, respecting personal space, saying “excuse me,”
getting to know the other person, having dinner conversation…

"Drag your thoughts away from your troubles... by the ears, by the heels, or any other way you can manage it."
~Mark Twain

Monday, May 24, 2010

Latham’s Prader-Willi Syndrome Social Skill’s Group: Part One

May is PWS Awareness Month. Our Social Skill’s groups met to do our part to increase awareness. This included young men and women between the ages of 13-21. We answered the following questions together. Some of these are questions that the PWSA (USA) Advisory Board answered at the end of last year in the newsletter. Some are questions from the book; “Prader-Willi Syndrome Is What I Have Not Who I am!” We are hoping to have our answers published in the second addition. Thanks for taking the time to read our answers and getting to know us!

What makes you happy?

Go carts, puzzle books, golf, swimming, family, reading books, vacation with family, horses, music, getting new movie, computer, visiting friends, being in a relationship—having boyfriend/girlfriend, fishing tournament, siblings, people we love, basketball, weddings, special occasions, special Olympics, pets, our school dog, going home, feeling loved, horseback riding, parade, staff, games, walks, exercise (for some), church community, people that care, outings, food, Taco Tuesdays, rice and beans, nice weather, sunny days, in winter—snow, pizza, cheats, chili, level 1, ice cream cake, beach, candy, Krista K’s, Chinese food, donuts, going to the mall, shopping, going to work, meatballs, front seat, birthdays, dates, Christmas, Thanksgiving, getting something new, Halloween, laughing, Earth day, other holidays( Labor Day, 4th of July, Mother’s day, Father’s day, grandparent’s day, Groundhog day, New Year’s day), friends, going to friend’s house, sleeping, time off, coloring, drawing, crafts, rollerblades, bicycling, my own bed, p.j. days, orchids, taking a bubble bath…

Sometimes I’m sad. PWS makes me sad…

When Mom says “No” about going to lunch, someone else going out to eat—NOT ME!, being teased about PWS, waiting for family visits, being homesick…

I’m proud of myself when…

I’m helping out other people, getting to level 1, I’m happy, I’m told I’m “handsome,” it’s my birthday, I’m doing a good job, I get an award, I do homework, I’m given a compliment, I’m at Special Olympics, I win medals, I win a game…

"There is just one life for each of us: our own."

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Time To Put On Your Dancing Shoes And Go To Prom

Going to Prom is a special event for every teenager. Yesterday many students from Latham dressed up in their finest and left campus to attend their Prom. The event was hosted by the Arc of Cape Cod and was held at the Harwich Community Center. Students arrived at the event and then enjoyed a day of dancing, music and laughter. Everyone experienced a special day and created many wonderful memories.

"Dance is the hidden language of the soul."
~Martha Graham

Thursday, May 20, 2010

National Public Radio Interview of Executive Director Anne McManus

James Major, Executive Director of Massachusetts Association of 766 Approved Private Schools (maaps), Maureen Brenner, Executive Director of the Riverview School and Anne McManus, Executive Director of the Latham Center School discuss funding cuts to Special Education. As we see the numbers of moderately to severely disabled students on the rise as well as increasing costs, funding cuts raise concerns over meeting the need.
Listen to the interview by clicking HERE.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Lights, Camera, Action!

On Friday afternoons at Latham School, a group of students gather together with Educational Assistant Fred Walters to learn about television and video production. They have been excited to handle large video cameras, take “still” shots and observe video production. The group, which is part of Latham’s Friday afternoon educational “Clubs”, has made several trips to Lower Cape TV channel 17, to learn about the basic operations of a television show from behind the scenes. The students said they were impressed by how many people it takes to make even a very short video.
The students have watched several movies and paused to critique the film, watch for camera angles and discuss plot and characters. The group has also been filming around Brewster while learning about plot, story line and characterization. They have made their own kinetoscopes. These are devices which spin a group of still pictures and create the impression of action – this is how early films and all the old Disney cartoons were made. They also tried stop motion filming. In stop motion filming each picture equals one frame of film. It’s done by moving an inanimate object bit by bit and then combining still pictures by editing them into a film which shows the action.
Another project these students have started is writing their own skit based on the famous Abbott and Costello “Who’s on First”. In focusing on humor in film they have learned the importance of timing both in dialogue and action. The group is currently working on a short silent film with a music background – the students developed the story, wrote storyboards, selected and recorded the music and are completing the filming. The short film will be shown at Latham’s upcoming Arts Festival, which is scheduled for mid-June.
The Lights, Camera, Action group is part of a Friday afternoon “Arts Club” block at Latham that encourages and supports learning about the arts. Other active arts clubs are: Pottery, Drawing and Painting, Community Service, Latham Newspaper and Tap Dance.

"Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves."
~James Matthew Barrie

Monday, May 17, 2010

Latham Student Wins Heart of a Winner Award

This past weekend, the Heart of a Winner Award was presented at the Special Olympics South Sectional Athletics meet. Sarah U. was nominated for the award by Latham staff and she was selected as the winner. Below is the excerpt from the brochure and a picture of Sarah with her trophy.

Since 1988, the “Heart of a Winner” award has been
presented at the SOMA South Cape & Islands Games to
one Athlete who tries his or her best in everything he or
she undertakes. This award is given in memory of Kris
Rogers, a Special Olympics Cape Cod Athlete who passed
away in 1986 at the age of 21. Kris had to face many
obstacles during his lifetime, but thanks to his
wonderful outlook and supportive family, his memory
continues to live on.

This year’s “Heart of a Winner” award goes to
Sarah, a Special Olympics competitor
three-plus years with the Latham Children
Services program. Sarah has developed and
matured over the years as a great athlete and
strong peer leader. Continually making
progress and always sticking with her team,
she willingly takes on any role given to her
with enthusiasm. What makes Sarah so
special is her ability to embrace life with a
positive attitude, using this gift to inspire her
teammates. For Sarah, helping her teammates
has always come before winning, and her
teamwork and perseverence is what Special
Olympics is all about.

"We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give."
~Winston Churchill

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Pictures of the Barn Raising

"How beautiful a day can be
When kindness touches it!"
~George Elliston

The Best Welcome Ever!

Saturday, May 8, 2010 brought rainy weather to the Cape, however it did not dampen the enthusiasm of the many volunteers who joined us in welcoming our new miniature donkeys Angus and Moonbeam, to their new home in Sandwich, MA. The sound of hammers and saws were echoing throughout the neighborhood as the barn-raising for our donkeys was completed in a day. What a great event and what an exciting beginning as our individuals with Prader-Willi Syndrome became caretakers for these gentle creatures.
Many thanks to our fabulous crew, members of staff and the Board of Directors who came to support this venture, to Café Alfresco for providing a great luncheon and to the residents of the home where the donkeys will reside. Keep visiting the Latham blog as we begin to chronicle our donkey project!

"Wherever a man turns he can find someone who needs him."
~Albert Schweitzer

Image above is of the volunteers who helped to build the barn.

Monday, May 10, 2010

A Moment of Time Can Make a World of Difference

This letter was sent from the Association of Developmental Disabilities Providers. Your involvement would be incredibly helpful in these harsh economic times. Please take a minute to read through the letter and TAKE ACTION.

Dear Friend,

The Senate Ways & Means Committee is putting the finishing touches on its budget recommendations to be released on May 19th.

The budget adopted by the House dramatically under-funds key disability programs including developmental disabilities & brain injury residential and employment programs.

In order to prevent hundreds of people with disabilities from losing service we must create a firestorm of pressure on the Senate to convince each Member to restore DDS & MRC budget line items.

It is an election year and Members of the Senate are very sensitive to how they will be perceived at home.

Many supporters of disabilities programs have already asked their Senator to urge restoration. Today, I am writing you to urge you to ask 3 or more of your friends, family and co-workers to also write to their Senators to urge restoration.

The only way disabilities programs will survive this tough economic and politically difficult period is by convincing elected officials to do the right thing because it is the will of the people they represent.

Only you can make that difference.

Please call or write your Senator and please forward this email to 3 or more of your friends and family and ask them to do the same.

To obtain your Senator's phone number, click here.

To send your Senator an instant email, click here.

Thank you,

Gary Blumenthal
ADDP President & CEO

"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not." ~Dr. Seuss

Monday, May 3, 2010

Chatham House: Preparing Students to Live in the World

The Chatham House, a beautiful home located 10 minutes from downtown Chatham, is our most independent residence within the children’s services program, focusing on independent and transitional based skills for a group of 6 non-PWS students. These students have been working diligently to achieve a multitude of goals towards independence – goals which many such students never believed possible to achieve – and yet they are!

Over the past year alone, we have seen our students reach new heights towards their goals of independence – helping them to be better prepared for “life after Latham”. At the Chatham House, which truly is a home to our students, the cooking, grocery shopping and cleaning are all done in collaboration between our students and our staff. As soon as you walk through the doors, the clean, decorated atmosphere let’s you know that each person living there takes pride in their home. As beautiful as the home is, the beautiful landscape of Cape Cod keeps the students out of the house and actively involved in the community for a good deal of their time. All of our Chatham House students have earned the privilege of doing independent walks in the community – independently walking the neighborhood, walking to the local Dunkin’ Donuts for a coffee or to the Chatham Library. Our students are also learning the responsibilities associated with having a cell phone – and paying the bill! Our students are learning to put “needs” before “wants” when managing personal budgets and each student has their own bank account and ATM card. Several of our students have been practicing and preparing to take the local flex bus to independently travel to work sites and local stores. Our students regularly go to the Chatham Community Center to work out, and take full advantage of the beautiful scenery and nature trails that Cape Cod has to offer. However, our students are not limited to enjoying just what the Cape has to offer. This upcoming weekend the Chatham House students and staff are traveling to Boston to visit the Boston Aquarium and enjoy a show at the IMAX theater!

Although the idea of transitioning to adult services and beyond can be a very frightening and intimidating experience for many of our students, we are confident that the work we do at Chatham House is preparing each student to succeed as a responsible, confident and active member of their community.