Thursday, August 30, 2012

New Orleans

I have had the pleasure of many visits to New Orleans (pre-Katrina) and one visit about 6 months after the hurricane. Nothing can prepare you for what that city went through. Words often failed me when I tried to describe the sight and  the smell of her neighborhoods in the spring of 2006. I hope Louisiana and the other coastal communities withstand the forces of nature coming for them. Memories can sneak back up on you, we see this with some the children and adults we care for. Be safe, take care, find people you trust and that can help you through this crisis. I will be thinking of you.

Submitted by:
Chris Gallant

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Musician Denya Levine Performs at Latham

Musician Denya Levine was on campus yesterday to perform. Denya, who has been a professional musician on Cape Cod for the last thirty years, came with her fiddle, ukulele and bags of percussion instruments for the kids to play. The song list ran the gamut from “Yellow Submarine”, “Country Road” and a series of Irish Jigs. Students enjoyed the music and also became part of the show as they kept the beat on tambourines and regularly got up to dance. 

Denya closed the hour long concert with a short meditation that helped the students to transition in an energized, yet peaceful, from of mind. The show was such a success we are arranging for another visit in a month or two. 

Submitted by:
Tim Vaughan
Residential Director

"Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life." 
~Berthold Auerbach

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Designing a Sensory Diet

Latham is wrapping up a consult with a very experienced OT from Washington State.  Marylee Chamberlain from LaConner, WA has spent the last 2 weeks at Latham with the purpose of helping us design a state of the art Sensory Diet to meet the needs of the PWS students at Latham.  She is in the process of reporting on her findings and recommendations but early indications are that she is on to some very surprising observations and interventions.  

The students have enthusiastically participated in her assessments, some with an eye to becoming astronauts as some of the exercises parallel astronaut preparedness programs.  It is clear that our new playground has elements that will be helpful in implementing her recommendations, that are designed to help their brains integrate more of their sensory experiences and improve their overall functioning.   

We are looking forward to working with Ms. Chamberlain on an ongoing basis  as part of our stable of experts in the many fields that play a role in our understanding of PWS and in our interventions and supports with this complex population.

Submitted by:
Jonathan Smith

Monday, August 27, 2012

Upcoming Circle of Courage Training

Mark Freado, President of Reclaiming Youth International, will be coming to conduct a RAP (Response Abilities Pathways) training at Latham on August 28th and 29th.  RAP training is part of the Circle of Courage model that Latham’s Children’s program has been implementing.

The Circle of Courage is a model focused on the four values of Belonging, Mastery, Independence and Generosity. The main belief of the model is that creating a community based on shared values is integral for individuals and the overall group to be healthy and happy. Mark Freado visited this past spring to lead the first training which was attended by thirty Latham staff from all departments.
There will be one more training next year. All trainings have been made possible by the generous support of the Tower Foundation.  

Submitted by:
Tim Vaughan
Residential Director

Friday, August 24, 2012

TIP of the WEEK: Back to School

A new year brings new opportunities to succeed but also brings new challenges. Changes in routines, expectations and environments can be so difficult for our kids but here are some ways to make the transition a little smoother.

Start their new routine ahead of time. If your child is used to waking up at 8am but getting to school on time will require her to get up at 6am, start waking her up at 6am a week or two in advance.
Back to school brings back to school clothes which can be challenging for kids with PWS. Favorite summer clothes will have to go away and be replaced with new, clean and unfamiliar attire. Let them wear their new clothes before that first week of school. The sensation of tags and stiff material can be unbearable for them. Cut the tags and wash the clothes several times before introducing them.

Ask for permission to enter the school and classroom before the first day. Do dry runs to and from school, especially if the school and/or classroom will be different than last year. Let your child sit at her desk, explore the environment and find the bathroom, lunch room and nurses office before the predictably hectic first day.

Write down your child's likes and dislikes for the teacher and aide. They have many children to care for and having this information written down will help them to remember what works best for your child. If you can't arrange for your child to meet their new teacher ahead of time at least have pictures for them to look at. Pictures or even better, a play date with their new classmates will take some of the pressure off of the first day.  The less surprises the better!

Let your child know your expectations ahead of time. The best intentions do not always mean that everyone will get it right all of the time. Let your child know that you have told the school staff about their needs but if the teacher or aide forgets that does not mean that it is ok to react badly. This may not work the first time or every time but making your expectations clear will help them manage the inevitable mistake.

Always remember that we are here to help if you need advice or are running into problems with your child's school. Children with PWS need extremely dedicated, knowledgeable and experienced teachers and aides. We can help if you need it. We get it.

Submitted by:
Patrice Carroll
Manager of PWS Services

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Latham Butterflies

Today I parked my car in a different spot and saw the flutter of many butterflies on this impressive plant known as the “butterfly bush." It is aptly named given the multitude of wings, either stationary or flying, amongst the purple flowers. It seemed so appropriate to see these today. 

Latham is saying congratulations and well done to two students leaving our campus as their journey towards adulthood continues.  I will think of them every time a butterfly crosses my vision path. Good luck and safe travels ladies!

Submitted by,
Chris Gallant

Monday, August 20, 2012

Latham Volunteers and Donors Share Hope and Support at Recent Events

Latham Centers was blessed with an outpouring of  community support over recent days with three back to back events showcasing a shared commitment to the children and adults with complex special needs who call Latham home.

On Sunday, August 12th, ten dedicated amateur volunteer runners successfully ran in the 40th running of the Falmouth Road Race to benefit Latham Special Olympic programs. Despite challenging heat and humidity, the runners stood tall amongst 12,000 registered entrants. 

Of the ten individuals, five are Latham employees, another was a Latham student, and the remaining four were generous, community-minded Latham supporters. Together, they raised a combined $10,000 with many new Latham donors sponsoring their run on

Please join Latham in thanking and congratulating the members of Team Latham Ten. 

Pictured (top left) are Team Members Jeremiah Nickerson (l), Science Teacher at Latham School with Gerry Pouliot, Assistant Principal of Latham School, celebrating the completion of the race.

Next—on Monday afternoon August 13—Latham Centers officially dedicated the Tim Semple Memorial Playground on the campus of Latham School. Tim Semple worked for Latham Centers for 14 years until his death in 2010 and served as our much appreciated Maintenance Director for 11 of those years. During his tenure, Tim launched a vocational maintenance program for our students as they learned new skills working alongside his crew. Tim also played Santa Claus on campus for many years, bringing excitement and laughter as he entertained the children and handed out a special gift to each student.  Many members of the Semple family attended the playground dedication, funded by numerous generous foundations and private donor support.

Pictured are Chip Semple (right), brother of Tim Semple, helping to unveil the playground sign with Latham Centers Board Chair Kathryn Earle.

And finally, on Monday evening August 13, some 60 Latham supporters gathered at the Second Annual Donor Appreication Event sponsored by Ocean Edge Resort in Brewster overlooking Cape Cod Bay.

Attendees were welcomed by Robert R. Newman (pictured left), President of Corcoran Jennison Hospitality Company and General Manager of Ocean Edge and member of the Latham Centers Board of Directors. Keith W. Bradley of Chatham was also recognized for his ongoing service to the Latham board of directors and “pinned” as the newest member of the Latham Legacy Circle for planned gifts and bequests.

Latham ended its fiscal year on a positive note with an estimeated 20% increase in donor support over the previous fiscal year. For more information about Ways to Give to Latham and the Latham Legacy Circle
Click HERE.

Submitted by:
Gerry Desautels
Latham Centers VP of Development & Community Outreach

Friday, August 17, 2012

TIP of the WEEK: On the Lighter Side

I have gotten many requests to post more low calorie/low fat summer treats and as we are right in the middle of the dog days of summer, I thought now would be a good time.
We have had one of the hottest summers on record and these cool summer treats will help to beat the heat!

Frozen Fruit Tart

Buy or make a graham cracker crust.
In a 9 inch pan bake crust for 10 minutes.
While the crust is baking let light or sugar free vanilla ice cream and mango sorbet soften on the counter.
Spoon a layer of ice cream in pan followed by a layer of sorbet. Repeat several times.
Put pan in freezer overnight.
Place the tart on a plate and arrange fruits on the top- nectarines, kiwi, mango- anything will work!
This is a light but very refreshing treat.

Flat Bread with Fruit
This one is easy and really good!

Roll out store bought pizza dough into an oval shape and brush with olive oil.
Bake for 10 minutes.
Remove from oven and let it cool slightly. Cover generously with berries and cook for another 10 minutes.
If you really want to make it a special, occasional treat sprinkle some confectionery sugar on top.

Grilled Nectarines
Don't knock this one until you try it. It's amazing!

Spray one side of sliced nectarines with non stick cooking spray.
Place directly on grill until slightly charred (no more that 2 minutes).
Place in a bowl with strawberries and fresh ginger. You won't regret it!

And finally something for the grown ups

Drunken Strawberries

In a saucepan heat 2 cups of port wine, 1 cup of sugar and a cinnamon stick on medium heat for 10 minutes. Cool for 20 minutes.
Melt dark chocolate in the microwave or in a sauce pan.
Place wax paper on a cookie sheet.
Dip strawberries into melted chocolate one at a time and place on wax paper. Place in fridge for at least 15 minutes.
Drizzle berries with port syrup and serve immediately. This recipe is also great with figs. Enjoy!

Feel free to send in your own recipes and as always keep the requests coming!

Submitted by,
Patrice Carroll
Manager of PWS Services

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Latham Centers Elects Jeni A. Landers, David J. Lofstrom and Octavia Ossola to Expanding Board of Directors

Latham Centers, Inc.,announced today the election of Jeni A. Landers of Dennis, David J. Lofstrom of Kingston, and Octavia Ossola of Brewster to its Board of Directors.  Each will initially serve three-year terms on Latham’s community-based board.  The three individuals join the volunteer board on the heels of a newly-adopted Strategic Plan for the growing international agency.

Jeni A. Landers, Esquire is an associate with the firm of Wynn and Wynn in Hyannis and is a graduate of Smith College and Northeastern University School of Law. She concentrates her practice in civil litigation, family law, personal injury, and criminal defense. Attorney Landers is a member of the Barnstable County Bar Association and is a recipient of the Cape and Plymouth Business Magazine's 2012 40 Under 40 Awards.  She also currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Cape Cod Young Professionals and the Smith College Club of Cape Cod while volunteering with several other Cape nonprofits.

David J. Lofstrom is Vice President, of U.S. Commercial Sales and Product Development for TD Insurance. Based in Boston, Mr. Lofstrom is responsible for growing the commercial property and casualty and employee benefits lines of business across TD Insurance’s footprint from Maine to Florida. He also serves on the Town of Kingston Finance Committee and is a volunteer youth baseball and basketball coach in his community. A native of Brewster, Mass., Mr. Lofstrom received an MBA from Suffolk University and an undergraduate degree from Westfield (Mass.) State University.

Octavia Ossola was a licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker with over 40 years of experience working with children in residential settings. Ms. Ossola retired in 2004 from her role as Program Director of Latham School. Prior to Latham Centers, she served in varying professional capacities at the Home for Little Wanderers. Ms. Ossola is very active in the town of Brewster and most recently served as the Chair of the Capital Campaign Committee for the renovation of the Brewster Unitarian Meeting House.  She holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from Boston University.

Submitted by:
Gerry Desautels
VP of Development and Community Outreach

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Tropical New York

As an avid Red Sox fan, this pains me to say….New York City is a pretty cool place. Actually, cool is a poor descriptor of my recent visit to the large city south of us.  It was 91 degrees at 8pm on a return walk to my hotel from dinner. I was there for business; Latham Centers is accredited by the Council on Accreditation and this was its’ tri-annual  conference. I think I might have just made up that word—COA hosts their conference every three years.  Latham is committed to the standards of the COA and we believe our programming supports our mission to compassionately and creatively help children and adults with complex special needs, including Prader-Willi Syndrome lead meaningful, abundant lives. Being a child care worker at Latham is still the best job I have ever had.

It was so unbearably hot and humid in NYC that I thought my flip flops were melting to the sidewalks. Yet each service person I came into contact with was friendly and polite. Now, I grew up in the ‘burbs across the river. I am fairly savvy when it comes to dealing with “city” people. I am not sure why I was so unprepared for the civility that was shown me, but I was. From the busboy clearing my table to the chambermaid at the hotel to the Amtrak employee on the train to and from the city; everyone was nice. It made my time there in that miserable heat less of a hassle.

So, thank you to those people doing the really hard jobs: from the waitresses, housekeepers, direct care workers and nurses to the parents, teachers, counselors, mass transit, safety and emergency personnel. To everyone trying their best in trying circumstances. Thank you, it is appreciated.

Submitted by:
Chris Gallant

"Don't be yourself - be someone a little nicer." 
~Mignon McLaughlin

Friday, August 10, 2012

TIP of the WEEK: Exercise Wisely

Any exercise is good exercise. That's not necessarily true. Yes, we want our kids active but we should be thoughtful about how and when we get them moving. Our kids need exercises that not only burn calories but also improve their overall quality of life. Core exercises like mid section stretches, twists with weighted balls, balancing as you see with many yoga poses will have lasting effects on posture and breathing. We recommend exercising before meals to help motivate them but did you know that exercising after a meal decreases regurgitation behaviors?

Taking deep breaths is an important part of living a healthy life and so many of our kids do not do this correctly. Breathing deeply rids the body of toxins, releases tension, relieves pain, strengthens your immune system and improves muscle performance. To teach your kids how to deep breathe have them exercise their lungs by blowing up a balloon or blow bubbles with gum. Simply asking them to take a deep breath will not get the correct results, they need to practice and practice until they learn how it feels to inhale and exhale deeply enough to have to best results.

Using exercise programs like wii games or kinect are fun but we often see kids just moving their arms and not getting the correct work out.   Exercise should be fun but beneficial at the same time. Use the time wisely and the effort you put in now teaching good exercise habits will have life long benefits.

Submitted by:
Patrice Carroll

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Dream Day Games at Nickerson State Park

On July 16th Latham was invited to participate in the Dream Day Games at Nickerson State Park. The Dream Day program offers families with a terminally ill children a free, beautifully decorated cottage to stay in for the weekend.  It’s a great way for families to take a vacation to the Cape without having to worry about expensive hotel stays.  

The Dream Day Games are an event that offers students a chance to participate in Archery, Canoeing, Fishing Derby and also arts and crafts. The Dream Day staff also performed for the kids and had a campfire and campfire songs.

This in an event that the students look forward to every summer.  One of our students even got a bulls eye during the archery event.  Already looking forward to next year!

Friday, August 3, 2012

TIP of the WEEK: Caring for Yourself

As parents  you spend so much time caring for your loved ones, worrying about their well being, their health and happiness that you often forget about your own. Your child comes first, his or her health needs, behavioral management and endless hours of advocacy come before your own basic needs. You know every hair on your child's head, every bug bite ( and lose one hour of sleep for every bite as you worry how badly that pick site will become).  I'm willing to bet that you haven't gone to get your hair done or had a cup of coffee that wasn't gulped down in a travel mug on your way to something having to do with your child in a very long time.

You are the parent of a child with PWS. A role that you didn't ask for but one that you embrace with all of your heart. You deserve the world for all of the trials and heartache, the pure joy, pride and worry beyond what most of us could imagine. And all of this work and worry can lead to stress and stress can lead to illness in the worst case and in the best case can cause a less effective you. Take time, even if it is 15 minutes a day for you, just you. Prioritize this time, you are worth it and you will be better for it. Here are some ideas that will lower your stress level, give you more energy and improve your overall well being:
  • Breathe. Take a few minutes a day to take several deep breaths, eyes closed and think of something beautiful. Sounds simple? It is and it works.
  • Taking a bath has wonderful relaxation results but few have time for that. Instead take a spray bottle of water with a few drops of essential oil and spray it on your skin after a shower. Use lavender for lasting calming effects.
  • Go green. Green is the most calming of all of the colors. Use in every chance you can. Whether it be clothing, wall color, drinking glasses- the more the better.
  • Take a walk. Get your MP3 player and put your favorite songs from high school on there. I guarantee smiles, great memories and a few minutes of zero stress.
Anything that you can do for just a few minutes a day that's just for you, no one else, will ultimately make you better for everyone else. You deserve it.

Submitted by:
Patrice Caroll
Manager of PWS Services

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and then to rest afterward." 
~Spanish Proverb

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Being Present and Avoiding the Street Lights

Those that know me, know that technology is not my strong suit. My 4 year old grandson adds the apps to my iphone. I challenge any one of you to be faster or more efficient at it then he is.  I saw a story on-line today about “walking accidents”; people texting walking into street lights, falling off of curbs, bouncing into inanimate objects and other humans trying to get from one place to another.
For goodness sake… Pay Attention! Be aware of your surroundings. Take in what is happening around you.

One of the truly great skills I look for in new hires coming through our Latham Centers Orientation Program is the ability to BE PRESENT and LISTEN.  Our students and adults deserve no less from their staff. We help them feel part of the community by demonstrating the importance of giving them our total attention; by opening our ears and closing our mouths, by allowing moments of silence to occur and time for them to format their thoughts into words.

I have learned much more about people when I give them time and space to express their thoughts. I sometimes go into a conversation thinking I know what it will be about and am startled to realize my assumption is not their focus or issue. Being present is hard when so much is asked of us and so much is out there to distract us. While the world is not always pretty, be brave and look all around you. You may be surprised at what you see (and hear). We owe it to ourselves and those we support to avoid the street lights in our path whenever possible!

Submitted by:
Chris Gallant