Jasyln (Jas) Clemmons spends her weekdays caring for youngsters at Easterseals Charter School in Daytona Beach. Her classroom of spunky two-year-olds keep her on her toes, and she loves it.
Jas joined Easterseals as a floater/substitute in the Child Development Center in 2008. Her responsibilities include overseeing and implementing developmentally appropriate classroom activities, while ensuring a safe environment for the little ones. She’s focused on creating experiences at Easterseals that help children thrive.
Day to day, the activities in Jas’ classroom help the children reach key developmental milestones. Jas and her team focus on many skills such as potty training, gross motor development, language development and building emotional, social and communication skills.
Jas also focuses on maintaining regular communication with the children’s families as part of her role as a pre-school teacher. She understands that helping a child reach his or her potential is a group effort.
As an Easterseals team member, Jas also participates in several opportunities for trainings that help make her most effective in the classroom and as a professional outside of it. Jas loves expanding her knowledge with the trainings.
Jas also is a key member of Easterseals’ Joey’s Gift Respite program and always is willing to help wherever and wherever she’s needed.
All of these reflect Jas’ dedication to her classroom, her young students, their families and Easterseals, which is evidenced by her 10-year-plus commitment.
“The first five years of a child’s development are critical,” said Jas. “I enjoy seeing each and every child grow and meet their individual goals. Our role is very important.”
If you have a love of teaching or an interest in helping children and adults with disabilities reach their fullest potential, you may have a place at Easterseals. All current job opportunities may not be available online, so contact HR Generalist Fran DeCinto at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. In the meantime, complete our application for employment opportunities, available here. Additionally, Easterseals has partnered with GettingHired.com, an online resource that connects people with disabilities to employers in search of qualified jobseekers with disabilities. Visit GettingHired.com to open your door to opportunity!
Easterseals of Northeast Central Florida serves the region with facilities in Daytona Beach, DeLand, Bunnell, and Leesburg. To learn more about Easterseals of Northeast Central Florida, please visit www.eastersealsnecfl.org.
Stephanie Anderson found herself in a precarious position a few months ago. Her young children, Piper (age 2) and Ethan (age 4), attended the same daycare, but things weren’t working out well for Ethan there. His behavior challenges were not ideally handled by staff, said Stephanie, resulting in him being treated differently by the teachers.
Stephanie wasn’t comfortable with this scenario, so she sought a new solution for her kids.
Living on the west side of Volusia County, Stephanie learned about the Easterseals Early Childhood Education Center, located adjacent to Trinity United Methodist Church in DeLand. After consulting the Center’s leadership about Easterseals’ services and space availability for her children, Stephanie found comfort in enrolling Ethan and Piper in a learning environment that suited her children’s needs and would help them flourish.
“At Easterseals, the teachers are more accepting and patient, and they are really good with the children who have hyperactivity challenges,” said Stephanie. “I feel more supported at Easterseals than I did at other childcare programs. Easterseals has other children there who have similar challenges to Ethan; they know how to handle him.”
Ethan and Piper no doubt keep their mom on her toes, but their vibrant personalities also reveal how excited they are to explore, learn and grow.
Stephanie said some of Ethan’s favorite activities are riding his scooter and swimming, while Piper loves her baby dolls. And, they’re enjoying school more than ever before, too.
“They love the teachers in the daycare,” said Stephanie. “(In other schools), Ethan would say how much he didn’t like school and he wouldn’t want to go in the morning. But now, every day he has a positive attitude. He doesn’t complain about going to school and he actually enjoys it.”
Reinforced by their teachers’ caring commitment, Ethan and Piper now have the structure in place to continue their love of learning and to blossom into their fullest potential at Easterseals.
Ethan, Piper, Stephanie and sister Isabella are excited to be an Easterseals Ambassador family this year. Join their team, register or donate to Walk With Me on April 26 in Daytona Beach www.walkwithme.org/daytona.
Easterseals of Northeast Central Florida welcomes Stephanie Ford to its Daytona Beach-based team. In her new role as Special Events Manager, Stephanie is responsible for developing and managing major internal and external annual fundraising events for Easterseals. Her key tasks include planning and analyzing cost-effective events; setting revenue goals; forming relationships with and soliciting event sponsors and donors; and coordinating and managing sponsors, contractors, vendors, employees and volunteers.
Stephanie holds a bachelor’s degree in Performing Arts from the University of Florida.
Before her position at Easterseals, Stephanie owned and operated Stephanie Rae Events, LLC, an event-planning organization that specializes in conducting corporate and professional retreats.
Her skills include event planning and facilitating, sponsor relations, community outreach, fundraising, public speaking and social-media marketing.
Stephanie is passionate about creating fun and positive experiences through events.
“I have been in the events field for many years and worn many different hats,” said Stephanie. “I love creating experiences for people that impact, enhance, or empower their lives.”
She’s an early riser who loves to start her day with a good book. And, when not in the office, Stephanie loves being active and makes the most of living in New Smyrna Beach with her husband, stepson and two fur babies.
“We love spending time at the beach, riding bikes, and hanging out with friends and family,” Stephanie said. “I play tennis when I can and am passionate about health and wellness.”
She added: “I'm pretty involved in my community and love supporting local business, especially if it's a food & wine event!”
Welcome, Stephanie, to the Easterseals team! Look for Stephanie at Walk With Me, Easterseals’ flagship fundraising event, on April 26 at Jackie Robinson Ballpark. Learn more about Walk With Me, donate and join a team at www.walkwithme.org/daytona.
Grinning ear to ear with twinkly brown eyes smiling beneath plastic blue-rimmed glasses, Carl Bowdre, 2, exudes happiness and love. His parents Angela and Steve have taught him such things, just as Easterseals’ Early Steps is teaching Carl how to grow and learn through physical, occupational and speech therapies.
Early Steps, an early intervention program operated locally by Easterseals of Northeast Central Florida, met the Bowdre family nearly as soon as they were discharged from the hospital after Carl’s premature birth and extended stay. Early Steps therapists have been the family’s source of confidence as the two-year-old continues to make impressive developmental strides.
“Carl was premature (at 25 weeks gestation) and with the down syndrome…he had (most of) the typical preterm complications,” remembered Angela.
Thus, physical and occupational therapy started very quickly after the couple arrived home with their little one.
“I remember going to the first meeting at Early Steps office,” Angela said. “Our goal always was for them to teach us as a family so we could help Carl when (the therapists) weren’t there. They have done a great job.”
Today, Carl is learning to follow commands, put things in containers, and stand and kneel. His parents are equally involved students and learning their part, too. Their focus on communicating with Carl verbally and with gestures is encouraging is ability to mimic and follow directions.
“We can really see that he’s understanding and remembering certain things,” said Angela. “Retention is a big thing. He’s starting to remember certain words. He’s showing a lot of interest in reading, too, and is paying a lot of attention.”
“His mimicking has been great lately,” added Steve.
Angela and Steve appreciate the Easterseals therapists’ teamwork approach and how they encourage their confidence.
“They always explain things even if they might not be what we want to hear,” said Angela. “The therapists redirect us in ways that are better for Carl. The growth we have seen in him has been phenomenal.”
Some of Carl’s next milestones will include eating solid foods with more texture, balancing on his hands and feet, crawling and walking.
“He’s just about to walk; (the therapists) are doing great with him,” said Steve.
Both parents encourage others to discover what Easterseals offers.
“Easterseals services are there, so use them. They’ve done nothing but help our son,” he said.
“Every time I’ve called or had a question, Jeanne Miley (Early Steps liaison) has been phenomenal,” Angela added. “It’s been amazing just to know she’s there. Easterseals can help your child, which in the end is what everybody wants.”
The Bowdre family is honored to be an Easterseals Ambassador family and spread the word about Easterseals programs. Join them for Walk With Me on April 26 in Daytona Beach. Join their team, register to walk or donate at www.walkwithme.org/daytona.
heumatoid arthritis isn’t keeping Isabella (Izzy) Potsick, 13, from experiencing school, friends and life to its fullest. Her joints are on notice that Easterseals aquatherapy program is her unsinkable partner in helping her overcome the joint inflammation and stiffness that accompanies the disease.
In return for Izzy’s hard work, she’s gained flexibility, range of motion and a great family friend.
Izzy and her mom Janet rave about the aquatherapy program at Easterseals of Northeast Central Florida. Once a week for three years, the duo has visited therapist Shannon Garcia, PTA, for a half-hour of stretching, massage and pool exercises. The family has tried other programs in the past, but nothing compares to the results Izzy experiences from aquatherapy.
“Especially when Izzy’s muscles are so tight, Shannon tries to get them stretched out for her,” said Janet. “It makes a huge difference for Izzy and helps her through the rest of the week. Shannon is amazing,” said Janet.
“We do a lot of stretching and sometimes she massages my foot muscles and legs so they aren’t as stiff,” said Izzy. “I also do some special walks like the ‘toy soldier’ walk to get my joints moving. I do heel-to-toe walks, kneeling, kicking, and stuff like that, too.
“Every time I get out (of the pool), I feel a difference. Shannon does a great job getting my muscles loose,” Izzy added.
“Easterseals has been more helpful than any other place has been to us in terms of Izzy’s condition; it’s the only place we can come that’s even close to our house for us to get aquatherapy,” said Janet. “Easterseals has gone above and beyond even what Izzy’s doctor’s office has done for us. They’ve offered us more resources and helped more than anybody else.”
Janet advises parents to explore Easterseals’ offerings.
“It can be very overwhelming when you get a diagnosis for your child and you don’t always know who to talk to,” she said. “I would definitely say if somebody has a child with an issue that Easterseals is a great way to get them some help and find out what’s offered.
“Easterseals has provided us with an awesome amount of resources and has been very helpful in knowing what to do with Izzy and what therapy to put her in,” added Janet. “They make you feel like you can advocate for your child.”
When not working hard in Easterseals aquatherapy sessions, Izzy is loving school – science and Latin, in particular – as well as drawing, crafting and making stop-motion videos. She’s anticipating adding the April 26 Walk With Me to her social calendar, too.
Said Izzy: “I’m excited to be an Easterseals ambassador and do Walk With Me. I’m so happy.”
The Potsick family is thrilled to be part of the 2019 Honorary Ambassadors program. Join them for Walk With Me on April 26 in Daytona Beach. Join their team, register to walk or donate at www.walkwithme.org/daytona.
Like most four-year-old boys, Bob McGrath is an expert at playing. He loves to run, be silly and enjoys his toys. But, as he grew, his parents noticed that an essential ingredient was missing from his playtime: interacting with others.
Bob’s parents, Beau and Deanna, enrolled Bob in Easterseals’ PLAY Project -- “Play and Language for Autistic Youngsters” -- six months ago to help him learn to interact and communicate more effectively. It’s a kind of PLAY that’s changed their lives for the better, one session at a time.
Once a month, an Easterseals therapist specializing in PLAY Project teaches Bob and his parents how to communicate through words and actions. PLAY Project is an evidence-based, parent-implemented and intensive early intervention program for young people with autism.
“When we first started with PLAY Project, Bob had no eye contact with us at all. If we tried to play with him while he was playing with a toy, he would walk away or he wouldn’t even notice us,” said Deanna. “As a result of PLAY Project sessions, Bob is more engaged with us. He can bring us things he needs and wants so we know and we’re not so frustrated.”
Deanna says the family is halfway through PLAY Project sessions, and she and her husband feel empowered to help Bob more effectively now.
“We know the things we can do to help engage him,” she said, adding that the family and the therapist often take field trips to different locations to expand the lessons.
“For the last two sessions we went to the park where he likes to swing. He said, ‘swing!’ last time, and he doesn’t say anything usually. Karen (Bob’s therapist) has helped with his interactions. It’s amazing. It’s worth every hour,” she said.
“Our next plan is to take him to the beach, where he tends to run away from us,” said Deanna. “Karen and I will have a lesson in making him aware of his surroundings and explaining boundaries.”
Bob’s interactions with peers have improved, too. According to Deanna, Bob notices other children when he didn’t before, and he stays around them in the same area now.
The PLAY Project is Bob’s second experience with Easterseals of Northeast Central Florida. He began therapy with Easterseals through Early Steps when he was 18 months old. Deanna’s encounter with Early Steps led her to be hired as an Early Steps Family Resource Specialist in the program after Bob graduated. In her roles as a parent and staff member, she encourages families to reach out to Easterseals if they feel their child needs support in reaching his or her full potential.
“A lot of other therapists will say, ‘we’re going to do ‘textbook kids with autism’ activities,’ but Easterseals realizes every child is different,” said Deanna. “Easterseals is always willing to work with your schedule and what your goals are. They pay attention to what you have going on in your life and they work with you to get you there.”
The McGrath family is thrilled to be part of the 2019 Honorary Ambassadors program. Join them for Walk With Me on April 26 in Daytona Beach. Join their team, register to walk or donate at www.walkwithme.org/daytona.
Individuals and teams are invited to register for Walk With Me, a signature fundraiser for Easterseals of Northeast Central Florida. The event will be Friday, April 26. Gates open at 5 p.m., the walk begins at 6 p.m. and the Daytona Tortugas game and Walk With Me picnic begin at 7:05 p.m. The event will begin and end at Jackie Robinson Ballpark, Daytona Beach and includes a 1.5-mile scenic stroll around the Sweetheart Trail in Riverside and City Island Parks in Daytona Beach.
Free registration is available at www.walkwithme.org/daytona. Online tools allow team captains to invite others to donate toward the team’s fundraising goals. Funds raised through Walk With Me support vital programs for people with disabilities in Volusia and Flagler Counties.
Walk With Me is seeking local businesses as event sponsors too. Interested parties may contact Susan Moor at email@example.com for details on sponsorship packages, which range from $250 to $5,000.
Each year, Walk With Me is led by inspiring local young ambassadors who lead teams through the event and share their stories of hope and courage while living with disabilities. The 2019 Walk With Me ambassadors include Barrington Little (age 3), Blake Ferguson (2), Isabella Potsick (13), Scarlett Valdez (5), Myracle Andrews (5), Bob McGrath (4), Carson Chesley (9), Carl Bowdre (2), Ethan MacGregor (4), and Piper MacGregor (2).
In honor of national Easterseals’ 100-year anniversary, Easterseals hopes to secure 100 teams in this year’s event.
For more information about Walk With Me, visit www.walkwithme.org/daytona. For more information about how Easterseals is taking on disability in our communities, visit www.eastersealsnecfl.org.
A funny and smart sweetheart: That’s how one of Barrington Little’s biggest fans, family member B.K. McLaurin, describes her three-year-old Easterseals preschool student. Barrington’s been named a 2019 Walk With Me honorary Ambassador and his family’s excited to share his story.
Barrington attends Easterseals Charter School in Daytona Beach. After some unsuccessful stints in area daycares, he found a safe and patient place to learn at Easterseals of Northeast Central Florida.
“He wasn’t keeping pace with other kids at the daycare, and he’s had some challenges,” said B.K., “so we were recommended to come to Easterseals and get some help with his behaviors.”
Since arriving last September, B.K. and his mother Santana Little agree Barrington has made great strides in his development.
“When he came to Easterseals, he wasn’t talking except to say eat! eat! eat!,” said B.K. “He’s progressed a lot here. He uses more words, he’s become more independent and he’s more social, too.”
Barrington’s family says he’s able to do more for himself since he started at the Charter School. He’s able to get his own shoes and helps get himself dressed. The next goal is potty training.
Barrington loves music and to play with bouncy balls and big trucks with even bigger wheels – activities he enjoys at school and home that continue to help him develop and learn.
“Being here at Easterseals is great for Barrington,” said B.K. “He can do more things on his own and he’s learning. His behavior’s improved and he’s using more words. There’s been big progress in him and we’re very happy.”
Santana and B.K. agree Easterseals has been a blessing to their family.
“Easterseals is perfect for our child. (Parenting) takes a lot of patience and time but don’t give up. There’s help out there, you just need to get connected to the right person and the right resources. Don’t give up and have faith. Once you get connected to the right resources and network, it’s smoother sailing.
Added B.K.: “Easterseals is the greatest gift ever. It’s a blessing.”
Barrington’s family is honored to be part of the 2019 Honorary Ambassadors program and invite you to walk with pride for the kids! Join them for Walk With Me on April 26 in Daytona Beach. Join Barrington’s team, register to walk or donate at www.walkwithme.org/daytona.
Blake Ferguson is an energetic two-year-old who’s ready to take on the world – a world that gets bigger and more exciting every day thanks to Early Steps and Easterseals.
Blake was born two months prematurely and with significant hearing impairment – an impairment recognized immediately by the medical team who cared for him in the neonatal intensive care unit. That’s the moment that started Donald and Tara Ferguson’s journey to Early Steps: Florida's early intervention system that offers services to eligible infants and toddlers (up to 3 years) with developmental delays. Locally, the program is operated by Easterseals of Northeast Central Florida.
Interventions began right away for Blake as an Early Steps therapist began working with him at the Ferguson’s home when he was hardly four months old. Monthly visits, which continue today, focus on playing with sounds he enjoys with the help of his hearing aids.
“The state got us connected with Early Steps right away; there was no long wait time,” said Tara. “Our contact connected us immediately with an Early Steps play therapist who visits our home once a month for an hour-long session.”
Today, Blake’s relationship with sound and his vocabulary and communication skills continue to improve through Early Steps therapy. “He’s addicted to anything that plays music,” said Tara. “If it has anything to do with music, he’s loving it.”
The Fergusons rave about the support they’ve received from Easterseals staff and the group of professionals they work with through the DeLand office.
“Deanna is fabulous with letting us know about playgroups,” said Tara. “She knows I’m a teacher, so she always emails me and lets me know when there’s a playgroup on my days off. Having a network of support has been fabulous.”
“I tell other parents to contact Easterseals and they’ll find a way to help you,” she said, “and that’s what’s been great with Easterseals in DeLand. Any question I have, Crystal finds an answer the next day.
“For me, Easterseals has been an open door. I’ve never done any of this before and every step of the way Easterseals has helped us through everything,” said Tara.
Donald and Tara encourage parents to seek out resources from Eeasterseals from the first moment of concern.
“If you’re not sure what to do, go find out,” said Donald. “Easterseals will tell you right away and lead you in the right direction. There are so many different avenues they can help you with.”
“I definitely want to continue to be involved in things even when Blake’s out of the program,” said Tara. “They’ve just been a great help for us that I cannot imagine not trying to help them as well.”
The Ferguson family is thrilled to be part of the 2019 Honorary Ambassadors program. Join them for Walk With Me on April 26 in Daytona Beach. Join their team, register to walk or donate at www.walkwithme.org/daytona.