What better way to break up the dog days of summer than with a party? NSSA did just that with a new event: Pizza & Pints. Held on a muggy Thursday evening at the Great South Bay Brewery in Bay Shore, families, friends and staff were delighted to be in a spacious air conditioned room, sipping “pints” and sharing pizza and salad prepared by NSSA’s Salad Shoppe.
Guests chatted over beer barrel tables or relaxed on cushy sofas.
They took their chances at winning raffle prizes or spinning the prize wheel. And this was no ordinary prize wheel. In order to win, guests had to perform feats of knowledge, balance or tongue twistery. This made for much entertainment and laughter in the wheel corner. The grand raffle was a much-coveted brew-crew cycle tour in Riverhead for up to 14 guests.
Others played giant chess or Jenga, or practiced their prowess at cornhole or the foosball table.
Thank you to all who attended, donated and volunteered. Thank you to Rob Donahue of Great South Bay Brewery for making the event possible. And we’re especially grateful for the initiative, creativity and hard work of Jen O’Malley and Tori Ardito for creating this new fun summer event!
On November 30, the Smithtown High School East Leadership Club visited The Martin C. Barell School to learn more about NSSA’s school program. For seven years, Smithtown High School East students have been hosting dances for our students and clients at their school, so we have an excellent long-standing relationship with these amazing students.
When the Smithtown students arrived in the morning they were given a tour of the school by Stacey Agosta, NSSA Senior Behavior Intervention Specialist, then split up into smaller groups to spend time interacting with students in their different classrooms. Our teachers explained what the students were currently working on so the high schoolers were able to participate in the activities. They also brought craft projects to do with the students.
Afterwards, members of the Leadership Club shared a pizza lunch with the NSSA friends they have made over the years at their school dances.
We are so grateful to the students of Smithtown High School East for taking an ongoing and active role in the lives of our students and adult program participants at NSSA. We look forward to more wonderful events that these students host each year for their friends at NSSA.
For the past few months NSSA Adult Clients have been experiencing new activities thanks to a grant received from The Jack Fanning Memorial Foundation. NSSA has been offering more opportunities for enriching instruction in areas such as music, yoga, bowling, cooking, painting, horseback riding and more. Activities such as these help broaden the interests and skill development for our clients and help them to lead fulfilling lives.
On October 22, several groups of adult clients went to Bake Me a Cake Boutique for a step-by-step cake decorating class. They each had their own personal-sized cakes to decorate. They cut and shaped their cakes, rolled out fondant, cut out different shapes, and applied all the pieces to turn their plain cake into a whimsical rainbow fish. Tiny bites of sweet fondant may or may not have been taken throughout the class! At the end, the cakes were placed carefully into bakery boxes to be taken home to their families.
We can’t wait to see where NSSA adults go next!
Earlier this summer we shared (here) that Randy Horowitz, NSSA’s Associate Executive Director of Program Development, began a school-based running club here at NSSA. The weekly practices are broken into two groups: The Junior Runners (the younger students in classroms 1 & 2) and Senior Runners from classrooms 3 & 4.
The club meets on Friday mornings and Randy and Barell parent Jennifer Prince spend 30 minutes leading students through warm-up exercises…
an individual short run…
a couple laps around the playground track with a teacher or running partner….
…and finishing up with a brief cool-down and a round of applause for their efforts.
The purpose of the running club this summer is to assess student’s skills, motivation and interest in running. Randy anticipates that by summer’s end they will have identified a handful of students who could be interested in running longer distances (perhaps a 5k, Jack’s Run, Blazing Trails for Autism 4 mile run, etc.). These students will be paired with staff and parents who can coach them towards this goal.
Randy shared why participating in organized runs or races could be a benefit for our students: “In addition to decreasing problem behavior and increasing health and fitness, among the most important benefits of exercise for individuals with autism, are the social implications of participating in activities with typically developing age matched peers, and relatives (e.g., siblings and parents).”
If you want to read the story of a family who helped their two sons with autism by running together as a family, read Silent Running: Our Family’s Journey to the Finish Line with Autism by Robyn K. Schneider. Ms. Schneider, the boys’ mother, shows how skill building, effective supports, developing community partnerships and selecting activities based on shared interest, can promote independence and community integration for individuals with autism.
And there’s certainly no denying the joy on these faces!
Thanks, Randy, for starting this important exercise club for our students!
We started the week with a visit from Ginny Green from Autism Speaks who delivered a plaque regarding a grant they awarded NSSA for Building the Field and Scope of Educators Supporting Children with Autism. Thanks, Autism Speaks!
The week started out hot so some of the adult clients came over to cool off in our pool…
…and later to indoor air-conditioned glow-in-the-dark mini golf.
Students did more tie-dying in preparation for Brew-B-Q.
Adult clients were given the job of weeding this raised bed at the Elija Farm. Look at the great job they did! Great teamwork, everyone!
J from NSSA’s Green Team came to pick up the shredding and recyclables from the Martin C. Barell building. You can learn more about The Green Team in an upcoming blog post.
The Running Club had a second meeting on Friday morning.
And students enjoyed the weekly summer visit from Mr. Softee after lunch!
And so ends another week of NSSA’s summer session. Check back next week to see what we’re up to!
On February 9, 2018, the students of Smithtown High School East once again turned their cafeteria into a winter wonderland for the students and clients of NSSA.
Snowflakes and Valentine’s hearts lined the walls and hung from the ceiling.
High school students danced and socialized with NSSA teens and adults. NSSA staff volunteered their time to be sure all went well.
Pizza, snacks and beverages were shared at dining tables.
NSSA’s own DJ Matt Figuccio spun records and kept the dance floor lively.
A fun time was had by all.
Thank you, Smithtown High School East, for welcoming NSSA into your school and into your hearts year after year.
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Each December The NSSA Parent Association hosts a holiday party complete with pizza, dessert and live music.
Teachers and direct support professionals enjoy the festive atmosphere while students and clients enjoy lunch and dancing.
Some of the adult clients have been practicing for weeks to put on a Holiday Singalong, led by teacher assistant Shelley.
Teachers got in the act, too.
And everyone else came to watch and sing along!
As if that wasn’t enough, on Friday, SANTA surprised the boys in Classroom 1 by showing up with gifts for everyone in the room!
It was quite the way to end 2017…and now classrooms are empty and quiet waiting to be filled again after New Year’s with happy excited voices and activity.
Here’s a little video for you…have a Happy New Year.
Everyone looks forward to Halloween at NSSA. Students, clients and staff have fun dressing in costume for the day’s activities.
The Halloween party is a big success with games, activities and treats. Adult clients do a great job running the different stations. And this year some of the younger classrooms went trick-or-treating in the administrative offices.
Students kept busy with games and activities.
NSSA Adult Services clients recently spent a day at Commack Old Navy experiencing what it’s like to be an employee at a retail clothing store.
General Manager Doug Wadsworth and Business Operations Manager Lisa Simonelli invited five adult clients to be a part of the on-the-job experience.
Clients first watched a training video on safety and then went out onto the sales floor split up into groups: cashier, fitting room, clothes folding and sweeping. Each client got to take a turn and experience each area.
They got right to work!
Happy faces at the register.
They had lunch in the break room and then returned to their duties in the store.
It was a wonderful day for everyone and we appreciate Old Navy allowing our clients this opportunity to experience a day in the life of an Old Navy employee.