As we wind down December and head into the New Year, I can’t help but think of the many accomplishments we can celebrate for 2014. My first thoughts are of our children, adults and staff throughout the Erie, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia campuses. They have accomplished so much! Be it learning to walk, to talk, to use an iPad or to secure a job, each person established a goal and worked hard to achieve it. Our staff was with them along the way to aid in their success.
There were a few notable program additions to Barber National Institute this past year. To further assure a seamless system of care for children, we initiated a Children’s Acute Partial Hospitalization program. Additionally, due to the success of our Blended Case Management services for children we began offering a similar service for adults.
As always, the Arts continued to play an essential role in our programs through the year; we were pleased to be invited to participate in John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts’ 2014 conference – VSA Intersections: Arts and Special Education. Our presentation was a look at the positive impact digital art has had for children with special needs.
This initial foray eventually led to a webinar through VSA, the international organization on arts and disability, titled “Video Self-Modeling in the Classroom with Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders.” We went global and received such great feedback that viewers were asking when Part 2 would be! (If you’re interested in watching the webinar, click here.)
Also in 2014, two of our students won nation-wide art contests. Jonah Derlink was selected as one of the 36 students throughout the U.S and Canada to receive the 2nd place award for his National Flagship Safety poster. Todd Harvey was selected as a winner of the statewide art contest for artists with disabilities, Art: The Universal Language. The competition, first of its kind, was a partnership between The Arc of Pennsylvania, the Commonwealth, and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.
We even had time to do a musical revue in conjunction with the Erie Playhouse, performing a collaboration of several pieces from past autism-friendly shows!
Because we believe that intense physical exercise has many, many benefits for our children, we partnered with two new groups, Achilles International and Variety, the Children’s Charity of Pittsburgh. By integrating Achilles into our phys-ed program, our students are able to complete a virtual marathon through the streets of Erie. One of Variety’s most popular programs, My Bike, generously donated highly specialized adaptive bikes for over 60 of our children. And this is only the first wave!
2014 has been a banner year…we know 2015 will bring us new successes and, of course, new challenges!