A Post from Kevin Miller, City Manager, Foster City
June 21, 2017
Below is an excerpt from the blog of Kevin Miller, City Manager of Foster City. Please read the full post here: http://kevinmillercm.blogspot.com/2017/06/foster-city-community-filled-with.html
Foster City: A Community Filled with Commitment & Passion
By Kevin Miller, City Manager of Foster City
At a recent Coffee in the Park with Councilmember Gary Pollard, I had the opportunity to meet resident Julie Tang who lives here in Foster City with her husband, Ed, and children, Kiersten & Johanna. Julie stood out from the crowd that morning, as she exuded a certain energy and confidence, a spirit of a "champion", and the qualities needed for Julie to form a support group for families who have children with Down syndrome (DS).
Julie's desire to create this group was all because of Johanna, their younger child with Down syndrome, who inspired Julie to create a DS community support group on the peninsula.
I met with Julie & Johanna in my office to get to know each other better and talk about the group. With a leap of faith, the group started right in her living room. It started with 4-5 families and now surprisingly very close to 100 families on the list. Last summer the Down Syndrome Connection of the Bay Area (the only non-profit in the Bay Area serving families and their children with DS since 1998) brought Julie on board to help them expand and build more services on the peninsula. Before all of this, there weren't any services or programs specifically for people with DS. Now, they have music therapy classes, monthly support group meetings, parent workshops, educator workshops, art workshops, Mom's Day Out events, fundraising events, holiday parties, and peer development classes coming soon in September on the peninsula!
As Julie graciously shared with me:
"We could not have done this without amazing families coming together as a team, heart-centered support from businesses, organizations, and local government of Foster City, and of course, the Down Syndrome Connection of the Bay Area for providing the DS community on the peninsula this incredible opportunity of working together and making us a part of the DSCBA so that we can be supported in our efforts as we continue to grow. This was how DSCBA-peninsula was born." - Julie
As they are heading into their 2 year anniversary of their DS community on the peninsula, they are planning a huge party celebrating this special time on Sunday, July 9 from 12-3pm at Maddux Park in Redwood City. It's a time for families to connect and rejoice what they have already created as a community and feeling hopeful of what's ahead of them.
Bay Area Nonprofits Magazine
February 13, 2017
Our own Nancy LaBelle and Adam Ferguson made the cover of the Bay Area Nonprofits Magazine, Winter 2017. Check out the article about the DSCBA on pg. 130 here.
Share the Spirit
December 05, 2016
Photo Credit: Anda Chu/Staff Photos, Bay Area News Group
So often we hear about how our open door and welcoming hearts provide the help and hope that many families have difficulty finding in other places. At the DSCBA, we aim to empower, inspire, and support all individuals with Down syndrome and their families, friends, care givers, teachers, therapists, and others in our community. Participating in DSCBA programs early-on can result in truly positive, life-changing benefits for children with Down syndrome and their families. New and experienced families are drawn together to share stories of success, support one another in challenging times, and celebrate the joy that our loved ones with Down syndrome bring us. We understand one another and we advocate for inclusion and acceptance. We learn that we are not alone.
On Thanksgiving Day, our music therapy program was featured on the cover of the East Bay Times as part of their Share the Spirit partnership with the Bay Area News Group and the Contra Costa Crisis Center. Read our story here: http://www.sharethespiriteastbay.org/bay-area-nonprofit-supports-people-with-down-syndrome-and-their-families/
This story is but one example of the grassroots efforts we make each and every day to share with the greater Bay Area community that individuals with Down syndrome are much like you and me. We all dance, laugh, cry, and love. We educate medical professionals and law makers on the importance of inclusion. We partner with educators and therapists to provide research-based best-practices on educating our children. We support new parents with up-to-date, accurate information on DS. We work hard to ensure the lives of individuals with Down syndrome are the filled with meaningful relationships, activities and employment. And we will continue working now and into the future to empower, inspire, and support our loved ones with Down syndrome.
We hope that this holiday season fills you with joy that outshines the sun itself. Thank you for your ongoing support of the DSCBA.
Share the Spirit Grant Program’s mission is to enhance the November/December holiday season for the most needy residents of Alameda and Contra Costa Counties by helping to fund nonprofit holiday programs and outreach.
Highlight on Communication Readiness Program
July 26, 2016
Below is an excerpt from a Tri-Valley Times article about DSCBA's Communication Readiness Program. Please read the full article here: http://www.eastbaytimes.com/tri-valley-times/ci_30171987/
Around Danville: Camp for kids with disabilities yields results
By Georgia Lambert, Columnist
"I want Peas."
A simple statement, but up until recently, Little Sam Small, 41/2, was unable to vocalize his wants and needs. His parents, Cathleen and Chris Small, of Clayton, enrolled him in the Communication Readiness Program, an intensive six-week communication and language camp set in Danville for children ages 4 to 7 with Down syndrome.
His mom said she saw dramatic improvement in Sam's speech and communication almost immediately. "The exciting progress is that Sam recently said his first spontaneous sentence," she said. "He carefully said, 'I want ...' and then pointed to a toy that he doesn't know the name of. Since then, he has been regularly practicing 'I want ...' when he wants something, and he said 'I like ...' this morning too. This might sound like a small development, but until now all we would get were occasional words; if he wanted a snack of goldfish crackers, he would just say 'fuff." And while he did have some words, they were few and far between -- he wasn't walking around naming everything he sees, like he has been these past three weeks."
The "Peas" that Sam frequently requests are songs by the Black-Eyed Peas. Cathleen said he loves their music, as well as any upbeat tunes. And his favorite things are bacon and Thomas the Train.
Now in its fourth year, the Communication Readiness Program gives children with speech delays and other communication challenges a voice through targeted and consistent communication and learning opportunities. Kati Skulski, a speech and language pathologist, and Amanda Pharis, a teacher with a master's in special education, coordinate the camp and the Augmentive Alternative Communication specialists, aides and numerous volunteers, including high school and college students and four speech and language pathologist students from Cal State East Bay completing internships. The focus is on school readiness skills, social interactions, making choices and expressing needs. Parents are involved and provided with tools and strategies for home time.
"Our kids have very good receptive skills but not necessarily the other way around," said Marianne Iversen, director of programs for the Down Syndrome Connection of the Bay Area.
She explained that the children have communication devices, such as iPads, with thousands of apps, and each student has a Step By Step device that they take home to record their activities. They bring it to camp each morning, a tool to promote conversation about what they did the previous night. The carry-over continues throughout the school year, using customized curriculum and training for the students' teachers.
DSCBA Recipient of GDSF Employee Initiative Grant
March 11, 2016
Down Syndrome Connection of the Bay Area Awarded Self-Advocate Employee Initiative Grant
Danville, CA--The Down Syndrome Connection of the Bay Area (DSCBA) was awarded a Self-Advocate Employee Initiative grant from the Global Down Syndrome Foundation. A total of eight organizations in seven states received the grant. Of all grant recipients, the DSCBA employs the largest number of self-advocates with Down syndrome.
“This grant will enable Down Syndrome Connection of the Bay Area to increase the hours, thereby income, of four individuals in our community with Down syndrome,” said executive director Nancy Labelle. “This is another great example of the benefits we receive as an official member of the Global Down Syndrome Foundation.”
The DSCBA currently employs four adults with Down syndrome. These self-advocates work with the DSCBA in ability awareness and inclusion, community outreach, organizational administration and as an assistant teacher to children with Down syndrome. Self-advocates are available for interviews.
Nationwide, recipients will use the grant to hire new employees with Down syndrome, or continue employment of existing employees with Down syndrome. Self-advocates will be performing a variety of jobs including medical advocacy, landscaping, conducting ability awareness workshops at schools, and teaching sign language. In total, this grant will support the employment of fourteen self-advocates, four of whom work at the DSCBA in Danville, CA.
Please read the full article by the Global Down Syndrome Foundation: http://www.globaldownsyndrome.org/global-self-advocate-employment-initiative-grants/global-down-syndrome-foundation-announces-winners-of-self-advocate-employee-initiative-grants/
Jennifer Cooper receives June Downing Award
December 04, 2015
Jennifer Cooper was presented with the June Downing award at the TASH Conference in Portland, Oregon, on December 4, 2015. This award honors the important and courageous contributions of individuals who advance inclusive education and equitable opportunities for students, particularly those with disabilities and support needs. We are all very proud and so very fortunate to have Jennifer on our team at the DSCBA.
Nancy LaBelle Recognized as Employee of the Year
April 28, 2015
Danville chamber hands out community awards
We are pleased to announce that the Danville Chamber of Commerce recognized Nancy LaBelle, Executive Director of the DSCBA, as the Employee of the Year at a ceremony at the Crow Canyon Country Club. Below is an excerpt from the article about Nancy's impact at the DSCBA and in Danvlle.
"Employee of the Year
This year's award went to Nancy LaBelle, executive director of Danville-based nonprofit Down Syndrome Connection of the Bay Area for the past eight years.
"Nancy has been the driving force behind the success of increased support, development, education and independence for people of all ages with Down syndrome," chamber officials said. "Nancy's core belief is that everyone has the right to a voice, a good education and to live the best quality of life possible."
Under LaBelle's leadership, the Down Syndrome Connection of the Bay Area has tripled its membership and budget."
Please read the full article here: http://danvillesanramon.com/news/2015/04/28/danville-chamber-hands-out-community-awards
Danville Children's Guild Raises Money for DSCBA
January 29, 2015
Children's Guild raises $61,000 for Down syndrome group
Below is an excerpt from a Mercury News article about the Children's Guild fundraiser for the DSCBA. Please read the full article here: http://www.mercurynews.com/my-town/ci_27404134/around-danville-childrens-guild-raises-61-000-down
Members agreed that proceeds from their Nov. 17 fundraiser would be donated to the DSC. In addition to a fashion show, luncheon, vendor fair and silent auction at Diablo Country Club, the event featured a Fund-A-Need paddle raise suggested by Nancy LaBelle, executive director of DSC. Amounts promised through the paddle raise were to be used for DSC's Stride with Pride pilot bike camp.
"At this camp, people with Down syndrome will learn how to use a Strider Bike (a bike without pedals) and at the end of the camp they are given a new bike and helmet to keep," said Pellegrini. These bikes without pedals enable kids and adults with Down syndrome to learn to balance before pedaling. Balancing is an issue for those with Down syndrome, LaBelle said, and their core strength gets worked on by pushing and gliding. In addition, it gives riders confidence because they don't feel like they will fall with their feet on the ground.
Pellegrini said LaBelle was hoping for $6,000 to run the group's first bike camp program for 25 participants. "We were able to raise over $26,000 during this Fund-A-Need paddle raise to go toward their program," she said. "I owe this huge success to our wonderful friends and family who attend our fundraiser each year as well as our fabulous MC, (local NBC evening news anchor) Jessica Aguirre. Jessica did an amazing job getting our guests to raise their paddle to donate. During this paddle raise, we had a little girl (who has Down syndrome) ride her Strider Bike across the catwalk to demonstrate how the bike worked. It was simply magical seeing this happen before our eyes, and there wasn't a dry eye in the room, as it was a sight to see, as she was adorable."
Pellegrini said the Guild presented their donation to DSC on Jan. 13. "They were shocked to discover that we raised $61,000 for their foundation," she said. "It was very special for us to be able to support Mrs. Hogan and Blair."