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  • Sharing Social Responsibility Through Wheels And Spokes

    This summer, bicycling has been a popular sport at Glade Run Lutheran Services. Aside from the campus construction, perhaps you’ve seen groups of kids zipping by on bike near campus in Zelienople.

    Throughout the months of June and July, Glade Run’s Foundation Assistant, Michelle Herr, solicited donations of bicycles for the children who stay on campus.

    Thrivent Financial in their Allison Park office has been collecting and rebuilding used bicycles this year to donate to children and adults in need. Thrivent donated 11 bicycles for Glade Run’s children. Christ Community United Methodist Church of Butler, Pennsylvania, also contributed 10 bicycles during their “Bikes for Hope” drive. The event, held in June, was sponsored by the church and featured a dunk tank, cotton candy, and arts and crafts. Anonymous donors also contributed five bicycles.

    Through Michelle’s efforts, alongside community partnerships, Glade Run kids have the chance to enjoy a fresh set of wheels. In total, 26 bikes were donated for children in our residential treatment program to use.

    Glade Run is a Sanctuary certified organization. The Sanctuary model guides the way Glade Run operates as an organization in order to help people recover from trauma. Although Social Responsibility is defined within context of Glade Run Lutheran Services, we often see Social Responsibility reach beyond just our agency and into our neighborhood.

    For most kids, bicycles are tools for play. Besides being an important type of exercise, cycling offers the children at Glade Run the opportunity to explore and develop independent skills. Responsible riders must learn the rules of the road and take safety very seriously. By exhibiting concern for other cyclists as well as their own personal well-being, Glade Run children demonstrate the Sanctuary concept of SELF: safety, emotion, loss and future. In this way, a new bike becomes a transformative tool for learning positive ways to interact with the world.

    We’re thankful for a generous community that answers to Glade Run’s call of need. It is through partnerships with area leaders, churches, and even anonymous donors that we can share the Social Responsibility of contributing to the welfare of our region. Truly, we’re better when we work together.

  • “Aspie Seeks Love” Documentary Screening

    Aspie Seeks Love movie poster

    Parents in Toto is hosting an evening at the Strand Theater on Main Street in Zelienople this Sunday, July 24, 2016.  They will be presenting an award-winning documentary called “Aspie Seeks Love” which sold out at the Regent Square Theater in 2015.

    This documentary follows David Matthews who was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome when he was 41 years old!  David has spent the past twenty years posting personal ad fliers on telephone poles “seeking love.”  These fliers were art pieces in their own right because they featured clever and funny observations with pop culture references and personal photos.

    Doors will open at 7:00 PM and David will introduce the film at 7:30 PM.  You can purchase tickets at The Strand for $5.00 or at Parents in Toto (and you will receive a $2 off coupon for future show).  Tickets can also be purchased at the door.  Refreshments are available for purchase from The Strand.  For more information, see the trailer at https://aspieseekslove.com/trailer/ or watch it below!

  • Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra Offers Sensory-Friendly Performances

    violin body

    Did you know the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra offers sensory-friendly performances? Check the website, where events are scheduled occasionally and posted.

    Modifications to the concert experience that are typically available at sensory-friendly performances include:

    – Online pre-visit materials, such as concert playlists, stories, picture schedules, tip sheets, and videos, that show patrons what they can expect to see and hear at Heinz Hall
    – Training for ushers, volunteers, and musicians to help Heinz Hall staff foster an especially welcoming and inclusive environment
    – Relaxed rules in the concert hall so that all responses to the music—clapping, singing, vocalizing, moving, dancing, etc.—are welcome at any time
    – Partially up house lights to facilitate movement in the hall
    – Free fidgets and earplugs to help patrons regulate their sensory stimulation
    – A designated quiet space with relaxing activities and a live video feed of the onstage action for patrons who would like to take a break from the pre-concert activities or performance
    – Slight mitigation of sudden, loud sounds
    – A family restroom in the Regency Rooms
    – Gluten and casein-free concession options
    – A modified refund policy that allows families to receive 100% of their money back if they purchase tickets and find they are unable to attend the day of the performance

    Saturday, June 25, 20146 at Heinz Hall will feature the performance of “Heroes and Inspirations”. Simply buy tickets online!

  • Community Effort: How to Use Work to Put Mental Health Stigmas to Rest

    “Are you ready?”

    I’m sitting in the passenger seat of a Glade Run vehicle, watching Tara Harvan, the Glade Run Transitions Program Coordinator, help our Transitions students get settled in the car. The students are dressed in their Transitions Program work shirt, ID badge, and mud boots. We are on our way to the Adventures Farm, which is a small local farm on Glade Run’s main campus where our students can learn soft skills needed for employment after high school.

    “Are you ready?”, she asks the students again. With smiles and laughter from the back seat, we set off.

    The Glade Run Transitions Program is an innovative curriculum developed by experts who believe that students are most successful when purposefully engaged in self-directed and experiential learning. As part of the program, Glade Run staff work with students and their parents to develop an individualized curriculum that will teach each student the life skills needed to successfully live independently in their community after high school. Students are provided with guidance as they engage in skill development, meet employment goals, and improve independent living skills.

    The students who participate in the program are not your average high school students. All of our students are referred to Glade Run from over 50 local school districts in Western Pennsylvania and come to Glade Run with one or more mental, emotional, or behavioral health diagnoses. Many of these students also have a dual diagnosis of attention deficit disorder (ADD) or an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in addition to their other mental health issues. For our students, learning basic life skills is an important and necessary step towards helping them live independently in their communities as adults.

    Glade Run’s primary focus is offering critical and strategic mental health services to the local community. However, the stigma against mental health dramatically hinders our work by keeping individuals who may need our specialized services from reaching out in their time of need. Consequently, Glade Run has made a commitment to help end the mental health stigma in Western Pennsylvania.

    As part of this effort, Glade Run encourages local businesses like the Adventures Farm to participate in our Transitions programming by offering opportunities for part time work and mentorship to our students. Not only does Transitions provide supportive services to our students, it can also be a great way for local businesses to meet their employment needs while including disadvantaged populations in the community in their workforce.

    Horses-2-600x968

    Aeron, a student in the Transitions program lends a hand at Adventures.

    The benefits of this inclusion are endless. For many of our students, who have been repeatedly told they are different and incapable of “real” work, getting to work alongside community members as an employee provides them with self confidence that can make all the difference in them feeling capable and valued. Additionally, they are able to learn both job and life skills as they learn to dress for work, complete assigned job duties, and manage their personal spending.

    For individuals who are not affected by a mental, emotional, or behavioral health issue, performing simple tasks can be taken for granted. For the youth in the Glade Run Transitions Program, however, successfully completing even small tasks means taking one step closer to reaching therapeutic and educational goals.

    At the Adventures Farm, I was fortunate to see the difference this program makes in person. Students were mentored by an Adventures employee and were able to utilize a farm environment to gain soft skills needed for employment. Students learned to follow a feeding chart schedule to feed the horses, harness and turn the horses out into the pasture, clean stalls, and feed and water the chickens and sheep. Some students found each job a challenge and needed extra support to complete their job duties. Others excelled at their job tasks, impressing the mentors, transition coach, and fellow peers. Every student found working with the animals at the Adventures Farm a thrilling experience and an opportunity to gain independence and employment skills.

    Glade Run would like to see every community make the same commitment to end the stigma against individuals with mental health diagnoses by including them in their businesses. The possibilities for inclusion are countless, and the benefits are innumerous.

    We’re ready to end the mental health stigma. Are you?

    About the Author

    Angelica Perry is the Grant Writer/Professional Writer for Glade Run Lutheran Services in Zelienople, Pennsylvania. Originally from New Mexico, Angelica graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Technical Communication with Honors from the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology in Socorro, New Mexico. In her free time, she enjoys reading, crafting, and dancing. She moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in March 2015 to launch her career in nonprofit work and mental health advocacy.

  • St. Stephen’s ASD Program had a Blast on the Bowling Field Trip!

    This featured blog was written by Chris Smith, Program Manager of ASD Educational Services at St. Stephen’s Lutheran Academy.

    On Wednesday, May 11th, the ASD program at St. Stephen’s Lutheran Academy attended a field trip to Family Bowlaway in Butler. The outing allowed the students to put into practice the social skills they’ve been working hard on (such as turn-taking, conversation skills, friendship, transitioning, and much more) all year long in a fun community setting.  This particular outing was special for a variety of reasons.

    This trip was a big success in that every student in the hallway was able to go; in past outings, students may at times have had to stay back due to escalated behaviors, having incident reports, or otherwise presenting safety concerns. Because every student earned to go on the trip, that meant every staff could go share in the success, which made it that much more enjoyable. To staff and students it felt like a nice way to celebrate the hard work they put in together to get there.

    This trip allowed several students to overcome some personal barriers. Children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder sometimes struggle with changes in day to day routines, and often prefer very rigid and routine schedules. So a field trip can certainly cause some non-preferred changes and anxiety! However, students who were initially hesitant to get on a different bus at a different time of day overcame their hesitation and transitioned right onto the bus with a little encouragement, and even participated in bowling and conversation with their peers. One student received lots of encouragement and support from a peer in his classroom which made all the difference to him.

    This trip provided some leadership opportunities for some of our graduating seniors, who acted (without being told to do so) as mentors for some of the younger students more affected by their diagnoses. Whether it was just lending a helping hand to hold on to or modeling some sweet bowling skills, these students helped those younger children stay included and smiling throughout.  It was a fantastic opportunity for the development of interpersonal relationships between students in our program. I had the good fortune to witness a student who was initially isolating and avoidant eventually ask to join a bowling lane, and before long she was talking, smiling and laughing with peers. One peer in particular expressed that he was glad to have interacted with her, and his conversations with this peer included encouragement, jokes, and kind language.  It was like watching one of Miss Angela’s social skills lessons unfold before my eyes.

    The field trip was also a wonderful chance for staff to demonstrate their commitment to School as a Society, one of the four pillars upon which St. Stephen’s operates. Staff and students truly functioned as a ‘neighborhood’, as evidenced by teachers working together to distribute food and drinks, identifying safe areas within the bowling alley for students who needed breaks, and assisting students outside of their classroom rosters. Teachers were well aware of each other’s unique student needs and concerns proactively. Everyone looked out for each other, and it was clear that they truly enjoyed doing so.

    But the benefits of this outing did not end when we unlaced our bowling shoes and headed back to the school. On the contrary, I just heard about a student whose parents are adding bowling to their list of family outings following the field trip. They had never gone bowling as a family previously. It was great to hear that our work at St. Stephen’s is expanding the social circles of the families of the students we serve!

    IMG_0061

    Overall, it was great to see this trip come together and get to be a part of it. Thanks to the detailed planning of Miss Michele and the collaboration of all the teachers and teaching assistants, in addition to the participation and enthusiasm of the students, the trip was a huge success. Everyone involved made lasting memories. The students got to practice skills and build relationships in a way that will hopefully continue to enrich their lives. I look forward to seeing what other fun and creative opportunities we can put together for these children in the future!

    About the Author

    Chris Smith

    Chris Smith is Program Manager of ASD Educational Services at St. Stephen’s Lutheran Academy.

  • Aeron’s Personal Story

    Aeron-Sr-PicHello my name is Aeron Hockenberry. I am in the Transitions Program at GIade Run. I am a 20 year old adult with Autism Spectrum Disorder (mild) and I also have Epilepsy. I had a late diagnosis of ASD at the age of 12.

    In my free time, I enjoy reading Manga and comics. I also love gaming and am in the process of writing a graphic novel with my dad called, “Steel Phoenix”. I currently live at home with my mother and father in Beaver County. In the fall of 2017, I plan to live in the dorms and study AST Networking and Telecommunications Technology at Hiram G. Andrews Center in Johnstown, PA.
    Being accepted as an adult with ASD has been a challenge, because people often still treat me like a child. I am learning to speak for myself and show people that my hopes and dreams matter.

     

     

     

    10 Things I want you to know about me as an individual with ASD:

    1. I have a vast knowledge of the Star Wars franchise.
    2. I feel uncomfortable and awkward greeting others.
    3. I am a video game connoisseur.
    4. I am a little shy at first, but once you get to know me I have a great sense of humor and am smart.
    5. I adore animals, especially cats and horses.
    6. I do not like conflict of any kind.
    7. Unlike others with ASD, I am not a picky eater. Someday, I would like to try octopus.
    8. Even though I have a hard time making eye contact, that does not mean I am not listening or being disrespectful.
    9. I have a seizure disorder. At one point, I had over 1,500 seizures daily. Luckily now, I have been 1 year seizure free.
    10. I am an extremely compassionate person and show a great amount of empathy towards all manners of life.

    Everybody has a different idea of “Normal”. Everybody aspires to achieve different goals. And though it may be more of a challenge for me to obtain my goals, I plan to be just as successful in life as anyone else.
    I plan to obtain my dream career in the computer field and someday be married with children.

  • Autism Awareness Month


    Autism Awareness Month

    Did you know this Saturday, April 2, is the eighth annual World Autism Awareness Day or Light It up Blue Day!  April is also Autism Awareness Month.

    Autism Awareness Month is a time to focus on educating individuals and communities about Autism Spectrum Disorders and to Light It Up Blue!  Spreading autism awareness in April is a way to come together as a united global team to promote inclusion and acceptance of all individuals on the autism spectrum.

    Time to Learn!

    In November 2015, a new government survey determined 1 in 45 children aged 3 and older has been diagnosed with an ASD.  This report was based on data collected during the yearly National Health Interview Survey.

    Currently, there is no medical test to diagnose an individual with ASD.  A multidisciplinary team of trained professionals interview parents/caregivers and administer behavioral assessments and parent questionnaires to diagnose an individual with ASD.

    Asperger syndrome was removed as a clinical diagnosis when the DSM-5 was released in May 2013.  Individuals will now be diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, Level 1, Level 2, or Level 3.

    One of the 7 Wonders of the World will Light It Up Blue to commemorate World Autism Awareness Day!  Find out which global landmarks will light it up blue on April 2 at www.autismspeaks.org/site-wide/breaking-blue-news.

    Use #LIUB to share your personal experiences across social media.

     

    About the Author

    Jamie Grace, Director of Autism at Glade Run Lutheran Services.

    Jamie Grace has served as the Director of Autism Services at Glade Run Lutheran Services for the past 5 years. She is responsible for developing new autism-specific services and programs across the continuum at Glade Run Lutheran Services.

  • Donation of school supplies energizes St. Stephen’s students

    talisman-energy-staff

    The Education Partnership and Repsol have energized students at St. Stephen’s Lutheran Academy through a donation of school supplies and backpacks, along with inspirational messages.

    This is the second year Talisman Energy, recently acquired by Repsol, has been the sponsor of Power Tool Homework Kits for St. Stephen’s students. The kits are one of the initiatives of The Education Partnership, a nonprofit organization that addresses educational inequities by providing school supplies to schools where a high percentage of the student body qualifies for free or reduced-price school lunches.

    Jane McCarty, operations manager for The Educational Partnership, based in Pittsburgh’s West End, said the backpacks come with the tools students need to do their homework, such as paper, pencils, pens and glue sticks, along with crayons for younger students and highlighters for the older ones. But there’s more: Employees of the sponsoring company write an encouraging note for each child.

    “Nine times out of 10, the student is going to reach for the note first because it shows someone outside of the organization (school) cares for the kid,” McCarty said.

    She said the energy company’s representatives chose St. Stephen’s for its sponsorship. “They were impressed with the work that they do, the good work,” McCarty said.

    Glade Run Lutheran Services operates St. Stephen’s Lutheran Academy. The private school is located on Glade Run’s Zelienople campus.

    McCarty said including the notes with the school supplies is important. “I think it gives us the chance to encourage the students, to encourage their dreams,” she said. Because of the messages, the program is “not just bringing school supplies, but also love,” she added.

    Keenan McGaughey, the assistant principal at St. Stephen’s, said the orange backpacks and supplies were a welcome holiday gift for the students and that he appreciates the support of The Education Partnership and the energy company.

    “They always do an amazing job for a holiday distribution of backpacks and school supplies parents may not otherwise be able to afford,” he said.
    And, McGaughey said, the hand-written notes, each one different, meant a lot to the students.

    “It wasn’t a cookie-cutter type of thing,” he said.

    One student asked if people from the company actually wrote the notes and whether they all were the same, McGaughey said. When told the notes were personally written and that “No two notes are the same,” the student was impressed.

    Receiving a personal message means a lot, the assistant principal said.

    The school has about 250 students in kindergarten through the 12th grade, and each one received a backpack with grade-appropriate supplies, McGaughey said.
    Ninety-two percent of the students have special needs, such as emotional issues or autism, and 78 percent qualify for free or reduced-price lunches, he said.
    The energy company also donated toys for the school “store.” Students can earn “Jaguar Bucks” for good behavior that they can save and use to make purchases.
    Walter Hufford, director of government and regulatory affairs for Repsol, said people with the company are glad to help “a bunch of great kids.”

    “We recognize the importance of education, how critical it is not only for our country, but for our industry, making these investments in our future,” he said.
    Employees wrote a variety of supportive messages for the students, Hufford said, among them, “You’re a rock star,” “Keep up the good work” and “Follow your dreams.”

    About the Author

    Madelyn Dinnerstein

    Madelyn Dinnerstein is a communications professional who previously worked for Trib Total Media, where she last was a weeklies editor whose job included being the primary editor for the North Journal and McKnight Journal newspapers. An enthusiastic juggler, she has volunteered as a juggling instructor for youths in Glade Run Lutheran Services’ residential treatment facility since 2001. Recently, she has been helping with public relations for Glade Run on a volunteer basis, as well.

  • Warning: Beware of telephone calls from scammers posing as Glade Run

    We’ve just been alerted that an individual has been calling citizens claiming to be from Glade Run with what appears on the screen to be a Glade Run number, requesting donations to help pay back taxes for Glade Run, and requesting that those donations be mailed to a post office box.

    Please know that this is NOT Glade Run calling. First, we will never solicit donations by phone. Second, we are a tax exempt nonprofit organization, and as such do not pay taxes. Please be safe, and report any activity to Officer Mike at the Zelienople Police Department at 724-452-3003. Thank you.

  • North Allegheny students play Santa for Glade Run

    North Allegheny students

    North Allegheny students
    Most people think of Santa Claus as a big man with a white beard and a red suit. But perhaps Santa is a Tiger, the kind at North Allegheny Senior High School in McCandless.

    Since 2009, the school’s students have provided Christmas presents for the youths at Glade Run’s Residential Treatment Facility in Zelienople.

    Art teacher Fran Hawbaker, adviser for the Student Council, which coordinates the Santa Stocking Project, said students granted holiday wishes for 86 youths in December.

    She said each homeroom got a youth’s first name and a wish list – a “need,” a “want,” a therapeutic item and a gift-card request.

    “Typically, two or three kids in each class take charge,” Hawbaker said. They collect money from their classmates to buy the items.

    “In most cases, they buy more than what’s on the list,” Hawbaker said.

    The teacher said she promotes the project heavily, as do the students who are most involved. “I really make an effort to educate them about it,” she said. “It’s kids talking to other kids.”

    In addition to the homerooms, other groups from the school community also fill stockings. For example, assistant football coach Mike Buchert takes 10 or 12 stockings each year for players to fill.

    Junior Jessica Hood, 17, of McCandless said the Santa Stocking Project is “the most memorable charitable event we do here at NA because it is personal.” “Each homeroom knows their child’s name, age and what they like, so they can personally relate to the child and figure out what gifts would make their Christmas great,” she said.

    Hood, the Student Council’s corresponding sergeant of arms and Service Committee officer, said students provided more than $10,000 worth of gifts this year.

    “Waking up on Christmas morning and knowing that the child they provided for that year got gifts that morning makes the personal factor even greater,” she said. “It is not a normal charity drive in which students bring in gifts for any child for the Christmas season. Knowing specifically who we are providing for makes this charity event special.”

    Girls from Glade Run frequently ask for makeup and nail kits, hair accessories and clothing, while boys usually ask for athletic equipment, MP3 players, board games and clothing, Hood said.

    “North Allegheny students should make an effort to help others and participate in this project because we are all very fortunate, even though we might not realize it sometimes,” she said. “Especially during the Christmas season, it is important that we give back to those who don’t have as much.”

    Hawbaker said the NA students make donations solely to help Glade Run’s youths.

    “There’s no contest (within the school). It’s just the kindness of their hearts. It’s all volunteering, money out of their pockets,” she said.

    Glade Run officials chose North Allegheny Senior High School for the organization’s Knight of the Kingdom award in 2012 because of the students’ “contribution of time, talent and treasure to youths served by Glade Run,” Sheila Talarico, executive director of the Glade Run Foundation, said.

    “Frances Hawbaker has taken over this program in conjunction with her Student Council from Patty Dzambo. Fran is amazing. We’re so grateful to her,” Talarico said. “Also, the gifts from NA are very special because we have teens choosing gifts for teens, so they are always perfect for our youths. The stockings are also unique; they take the time to paint each child’s name on a stocking that they will have forever.”

     

    About the Author

    Madelyn Dinnerstein

    Madelyn Dinnerstein is a communications professional who previously worked for Trib Total Media, where she last was a weeklies editor whose job included being the primary editor for the North Journal and McKnight Journal newspapers. An enthusiastic juggler, she has volunteered as a juggling instructor for youths in Glade Run Lutheran Services’ residential treatment facility since 2001. Recently, she has been helping with public relations for Glade Run on a volunteer basis, as well.