Global Running Day 2019 was on June 5 and NSSA turned out on the track ready to run!
This national event is a worldwide celebration of running that encourages everyone to get moving. It doesn’t matter how fast or how far you run—what’s important is that you take part, and how you do it is up to you. Run a lap around the block, take your dog for a walk or meet your friends for a jog along the beach. The important thing is that you have fun being active—and you inspire others to join you.
This is the second year that NSSA has participated, thanks to the enthusiasm of Randy Horowitz, NSSA’s Associate Executive Director of Program Development. NSSA students, clients and staff celebrated Global Running Day 2019 by running or walking a couple laps around our playground track then getting a well-deserved snack.
Everyone had fun at this impromptu break!
May 18, 2019 was a picture perfect day for NSSA’s 13th Annual 5K Run Walk for Autism Awareness. The sky was blue, the sun was shining and a light breeze kept everyone cool while running.
This was a special year as the run was moved to beautiful Eisenhower Park in East Meadow. This is a more central location for many people as well as a scenic spot with generous shade trees and grassy picnic areas for relaxing after the run. We hope this made for a great experience for our runners and their friends and families.
The day began with a generous breakfast spread of bagels, bananas, oranges and Entenmann’s and home baked goods by our own Connie Grassle. Gatorade, orange juice and water was available to quench our guests’ thirsts. Thank you to all our Breakfast Sponsors for keeping our runners fed and refreshed!
Volunteers from Global Facility Management & Construction, Inc. and both Lynbrook and Half Hollow Hills High Schools were on hand bright and early, balloon filling, course marking, table cleaning, muffin cutting, tee shirt dispensing – all the things that need to happen before a successful run. NSSA families and staff were also on hand to help out where needed. We couldn’t do it without their tireless help.
The race went off right on time at 8:30am and runners sped around a 3.1 mile course.
And as always, we welcome walkers too!
We were excited to see so many NSSA students and adult program participants joining in the race after training with the NSSA Run Club this year.
Post-run, Mike Miranda announced the overall and category winners.
Congratulations to James Gallagher for being the overall race winner and Top Overall Male with a time of 19:18 and to Courtney Koleda for coming in as Top Overall Female with a time of 22:50.
You’re ALL winners in our book!
Thanks to the Slone and Miranda families for all their support of Jack’s Run and NSSA.
We couldn’t put on an event like this without the help of our sponsors, volunteers, donors, families and runners. Your generosity means so much to so many.
You can see all the finishers below!
May 7, 2018 was the spring graduation ceremony of SANYS University. SANYS, the Self-Advocacy Association of New York State, is a statewide network of self-advocates with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities. According to their website, “Regional self-advocacy groups throughout New York State provide opportunities for individuals to meet and discuss ideas and concerns with people who have had similar experiences. These groups assist individuals to become full and valued members of their communities, and help to educate individuals on their rights and opportunities.”
SANYS U is a leadership course that teaches self-advocates and their support staff about the history of self-advocacy and their rights and responsibilities. It promotes strengthening of grassroots support and the development of strong local and statewide leaders. A sampling of topics offered in the course are: Introduction to Self-Advocacy & Leadership Development, Your Individual Rights & Responsibilities, Self-Advocacy Leadership Skills, You and Your One Wild Precious Life and Current Self-Advocacy Issues.
Chris, a participant in NSSA’s Adult program, was one of the proud graduates of SANYS U in May. Chris describes SANYS as a group that advocates for people with developmental disabilities. He stressed the importance of learning how to write letters to state representatives. He said the group also helps individuals work on their goals and learn how to live a fulfilled life.
After attending four classes during the month of April, he received his SANYS U Certificate of Leadership Curriculum Course Completion at a ceremony at the Commack Jewish Community Center. Each participant took the stage for a brief speech. Chris was confident and eloquent as he spoke about what he had learned in the course and what he hoped this education could bring to his future.
Chris now looks forward to contributing to the Positive Power SANYS group, a local chapter that meets periodically to discuss issues they want to address, such as making the self-direction process easier to navigate.
We’re so proud of Chris for taking steps to live a more independent and productive life.
Nassau Suffolk Services for Autism and the Genesis School partnered on May 10, 2019 to present a Staff Development Day for their combined staff. Staff Development Day is a scheduled day of no programs for school students and adult program participants so teachers and direct support professionals and all clinical staff are available for a full day of training and inspiration to expand upon learning opportunities for their students and adult participants.
Over 150 staff members were in attendance for the Keynote Address by Joanne Gerenser, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, Executive Director of Eden II. Dr. Gerenser’s talk was titled, “Lessons from the Field: What I Love About ABA.” She spoke passionately about her lifetime of work with individuals on the autism spectrum and her experience with Applied Behavior Analysis. The talk was inspirational and the audience was attentive throughout. There was much positive feedback afterwards as well.
Following the keynote, Mary McDonald, Ph.D., BCBA-D, LBA, Associate Executive Director for Long Island Programs and Chairperson of Eden II’s Research Review Committee, took the stage for a talk on “Evidence-Based vs. Non-Evidence-Based Interventions for Individuals with ASD.”
After a full morning in the auditorium at the Commack Jewish Community Center, everyone moved next door. Lunch was set up for round-table discussions such as “Multiple Schedules of Reinforcement,” “Leisure & Fitness,” “Transition & Aging Out” and “Challenging Behaviors.” People shared experiences and asked questions as they ate.
In the afternoon following lunch there were more presentations:
• “Working with Parents of Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder” by Jayne Eaton-Bove, MS, NSSA Director of Clinical Services, and Michelle Banville, MS-Ed, BCBA, LBA, NSSA Director of Adult Day Services
• “Providing a Purpose for Students and Their Instructors by Creating a Functional Curriculum for Adolescents with Autism” by Kathryn Reres and Rebecca Chi
• “Innovative Employment Options for Adults with Autism” by Erin Sparacio-Archibald, MS Ed., SAS, SDA, Director of Long Island Administration at Eden II
The day was informative, educational and inspiring for all.
Today is National Teacher Appreciation Day, which is part of Teacher Appreciation Week, the first full week in May of each year.
The National Education Association describes National Teacher Day “as a day for honoring teachers and recognizing the lasting contributions they make to our lives.” And NSSA is more than proud to honor our teachers, who are kind, patient, dedicated and SO hard-working.
Thank you for all you do!
In honor of National Storytelling Day on April 27, 2019, we are posting a few stories that staff has shared with us.
In the summer of 2018, Bobby attended Hidden Pond Day camp three days a week. We fondly referred to this as “The Hidden Pond Experiment.” Every day, Bobby would engage in activities with typical peers, which ranged from all different sports, swimming lessons to ice skating. In the beginning, Bobby tried very hard to understand expectations. He would do his best to ice skate, but was very afraid, and would only skate when holding onto an instructor with two hands in a training area.
By week 6, Bobby was the star of his group. His typical peers LOVED HIM. They constantly engaged with him, asked him questions, prompted him correctly if Bobby was unsure, included him in EVERY activity and cheered him on with secret handshakes. Bobby was changing independently for both swim and skate without being told what was next because of his understanding of his schedule and because of his observation skills. He followed the group during transitions and asked his peers questions in order to engage with them. He independently went underwater during swim, and skated throughout the entire rink only holding onto an instructor with one hand. Bobby was trying new things simply because his friends were cheering him on.
As a teacher, all I could have asked during that summer was to be able to remove myself as much as possible so Bobby could learn from his friends. Having this opportunity at camp created such a positive change in him and I cannot wait to see what he will do next.
PS: Bobby still keeps in touch with his camp friends via email and text!
by Melanie Youberg
In honor of National Storytelling Day on April 27, 2019, we are posting a few stories that staff has shared with us.
Early in my career I was asked to assist another teacher in teaching a student how to attend her brother’s bar mitzvah. This was a difficult task as we had to think of all the challenges the student might face on the day of the event and break them down into teachable skills.
We worked with Jamie, teaching her to sit quietly in the temple, to follow the schedule she would need to remain engaged during the long ceremony, being called up to receive a candle, how to handle the noise of a loud party and many more skills.
As a young teacher, I felt a lot of pressure in being responsible for a student’s behavior at an important family event. Thankfully, all the hard work Jamie put in paid off. She did fabulously and her family was happy and that’s all that mattered. Her brother had a great day and his sister was able to be a part of this wonderful memory.
The feeling I had afterwards was euphoric and seeing the smiles I helped create was priceless. It helped to motivate me as a young teacher to learn more about autism and ABA, so I could help more families.
by Stacey Agosta
Hawaiian shirts and floral leis were all the rage at the spring Smithtown High School East dance for NSSA adult program participants, consultation students and Barell students aged 14 and up.
Guests were treated to the welcoming faces of their Smithtown peers, a delicious dinner and rocking music that kept the dance floor hopping.
It’s a wonderful treat watching our students and clients having a great time with the Smithtown East students and one another.
Many thanks to Stacey Agosta for helping to organize, NSSA teachers for accompanying their students and adult participants and special thanks to Smithtown High School East for their graciousness and hospitality in putting this event on for us once again.
Wonderful NSSA parents, Michael and Jennifer Jurena, have once again hosted a fun and successful evening to benefit Nassau Suffolk Services for Autism! The 2nd Annual Celebrate Life in Bloom event took place on April 11 at Grandpa Tony’s in East Rockaway.
The lively crowd was full of the Jurena’s supportive family, friends and colleagues, as well as NSSA staff members and families. The pizza and hors d’oeuvres were delicious, the open bar kept everyone happy and the raffle & prize table was buzzing with excitement.
Michael and Jennifer each spoke some heartfelt words and thanked all in attendance. (They were also celebrating their 10 year anniversary. Congratulations Michael and Jennifer!) Then it was time to pull the raffles. Lots of lucky guests took home exciting prizes and gifts cards. Thanks to all the local businesses who were kind enough to donate raffle items.
We are so grateful to the Jurena Family for much-needed funds for NSSA and for showing us a great time! They worked very hard to organize the 2nd Annual Celebrate Life in Bloom event and it means the world to us. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you.
NSSA had some special visitors on April 8. John Lee Cronin, a 23-year-old man with Down syndrome, and his father, Mark Cronin, came to speak to NSSA teachers, direct support professionals and staff about their successful business, John’s Crazy Socks. The business was born out of John’s love for crazy socks combined with his love of making people smile. Their mission was clear: they want to spread happiness.
John’s Crazy Socks is a social enterprise with both a social mission and a business mission. The company currently has 39 employees, 23 of whom have a differing ability. John wants to show the world what these individuals are capable of doing. Since the founding of John’s Crazy Socks in fall of 2016, John and his team have built a $5million-dollar sock empire.
They give back by donating five percent of their earnings to the Special Olympics and raise money through sales of awareness socks (like Down syndrome and autism awareness) that they donate to their charity partners such as Autism Speaks and The National Down Syndrome Society. Through sock sales they have raised almost $300,000 for their charity partners!
They combine their social mission with a commitment to be a great sock store. They carry socks with a wide array of fun, unique designs that let customers express their passion and personality. Socks are delivered with fast, personal service, providing same-day shipping, a hand-written thank you note from John, coupons for future orders and candy in every package.
NSSA has begun several social enterprises, as well: the NSSA Salad Shoppe, the NSSA Café, and the newly created bracelet enterprise, so John and Mark had our full attention as they spoke about their experiences.
They talked about showing what is possible when you give a person a chance, citing several examples of “happy ending” hires, all ending with the phrase “We did nothing.” But they did do something. They gave a person a chance. And that can make all the difference in a person’s life.
For more information about John’s Crazy Socks, visit their webpage, Facebook page, Instagram account or YouTube channel. You can also contact them at 631-760-5625 or by email at email@example.com.