Children don’t play as much as they used to. Structured after-school activities have replaced spontaneous get-togethers with other kids in the neighborhood, while free-flow creative time has been replaced with scheduled activities.
Being a kid today simply isn’t what it was 50 years ago, and for Dorothy Lefford, OTR/L, VP-Clinical Services with Easterseals Northeast Central Florida, lack of playtime is so much a concern that she’s actively working to change it in our communities.
“We call the phenomenon ‘play deficit,’ and we see many consequences for not allowing children to use their imaginations and play freely within healthy parameters every day and for significant intervals” said Lefford.
Play deficit has been studied extensively in recent years, and Lefford is an engaged champion dedicated to reversing the phenomenon.
“Whenever I assess a child’s development, I consider how much play is incorporated into their lives and whether it’s an issue that needs to be addressed. We can learn a lot about a child from how much unstructured playtime they enjoy,” she said.
Experts have documented the repercussions of play deficit for many years. They explain that lessened play time, notably since the 1950s, has contributed to increased mental disorders in children, higher instances of childhood anxiety and depression and increased suicide rates among older children and young adults.
“Kids need a chance to be free and explore in safe environments that allow them to thrive,” said Lefford, who now speaks to local childhood development leaders about the seemingly unlimited benefits of childhood play.
In her program, “Movement to Learn: The Brain/Body Connection,” Lefford trains professionals on the research behind movement and brain development, and its impact on performance in school and after-school programs. Further, she helps groups understand environmental factors impacting motor development and what the body needs to ultimately function.
In each session, staff learn resources and strategies to implement stress management and movement into the classroom too, and in the case of the Boys & Girls Club of Volusia/Flagler Counties, how to implement play into after-school programs.
“When children are playing, they are learning,” said Lefford. “They not only flex their imaginations, but also learn to cooperate, share, and how to be assertive without dominating. These are the kinds of social skills that serve us throughout our lifetimes.”
Added Lefford: “Playing is too important to ignore. I’m proud to work with organizations that understands its value.”
To learn more about and bring Easterseals’ “Movement to Learn” training program to your organization, call Dorothy Lefford at 386-944-7856.
Honorary Ambassadors, ages 2-13, are ready for Friday's Easterseals "Walk With Me" fundraiser
Honorary Ambassadors and their teams are gearing up for Walk With Me, a signature fundraiser for Easterseals Northeast Central Florida. The event will be this Friday, April 26. Gates open at 5 p.m., the walk begins at 5:30 p.m., picnic starts at 6 p.m. and the Daytona Tortugas game begins at 7:05 p.m. Will you be there?
Walk With Me 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.
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 (4) and Piper MacGregor (2) and Yuvon Simhadri (5).
In honor of national Easterseals' 100-year anniversary, Easterseals is aiming to receive commitments from 100 teams in this year's event. (As of this release, 97 teams have been secured.) The event's fundraising goal is $65,000 to support Easterseals programs that help adult and children reach their fullest potential.
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.
Teresa Rand of Rand Consulting, Daytona Beach, is inviting the community out for a one-hour yoga session, "Pose with a Purpose," at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, May 9 at ONE DAYTONA, to benefit Easterseals Northeast Central Florida.
Rand is organizing the event to bring awareness to the health benefits of movement as well as raise funds for Easterseals.
All "Pose with a Purpose" participants are invited to donate a gift of any amount during the event, which will benefit Easterseals' many programs that support children and adults with disabilities. Community members should bring their mats, wear comfortable, flexible clothing and meet Rand at Victory Circle at ONE DAYTONA for the free session; all ages are welcome.
ONE DAYTONA will provide goodie bags and a free drink ticket for a ONE DAYTONA restaurant of the ticketholder's choice. Water also will be provided to participants. "Pose with a Purpose" is sponsored by Miami Grill & Bar and Hot House Yoga.
"We are grateful to Teresa and her partners for coordinating this fun event that will bring awareness to the importance of movement as well as highlight Easterseals' services," said Easterseals President/CEO Bev Johnson.
"Easterseals strongly believes in the mind-body connection and we see how children and adults benefit from movement every day,” added Johnson. “With each new challenge or milestone, we remind families that disabilities aren't stop signs; they are green lights that create opportunities for new ways of moving, learning and growing. And, yoga is a great way to move, stretch and get stronger.”
The yoga event is well aligned with Easterseals’ understanding of and advocacy for brain development. At Easterseals Northeast Central Florida, therapists understand the link between movement and brain function, and prioritize strategies that incorporate movement into the classroom.
“Neurons that fire together, wire together,” says Dorthy Lefford, VP Clinical Services for Easterseals. In her program, “Movement to Learn: The Brain/Body Connection,” Lefford explains how movement and brain development are not only connected but need to be optimized in school programs so children reach their fullest potential.
“We need movement to increase alertness, attention and motivation,” says Lefford, “and it’s critical to stress management. We must plan for movement every day, and when we encourage activity in families and children, we create amazing possibilities for their overall health.”
To learn more about "Pose with a Purpose," visit its Facebook event. To learn how Easterseals Northeast Central Florida helps all of us 'take on disability together, visit www.eastersealsnecfl.org.
Easterseals is celebrating its 100th anniversary Monday, April 22. In honor of the national celebration, local corporate supporters of Easterseals Northeast Central Florida are joining the festivities.
From 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. Monday, the tower lights at Victory Circle at ONE DAYTONA will light up orange in honor of Easterseals centennial celebration. With the gesture, ONE DAYTONA will be joining bridges and landmarks across the country that will “glow orange” in honor of Easterseals.
“ONE DAYTONA is excited to celebrate this milestone with our Easterseals colleagues,” said Gentry Baumline-Robinson, communications manager for International Speedway Corporation. “We will be going orange in unity of Easterseals’ mission: To ensure that all people with disabilities and their families have equal opportunities to live, learn, work and play in their communities.”
ONE DAYTONA is the home to Easterseals’ and NASCAR Foundation’s annual “Over the Edge at ONE DAYTONA” fundraising event, for which rappelers fundraise for their spot on the ropes and rappel down the eight-story International Motorsports Center. The 2019 event will be November 1-2; registration is open now at daytonaovertheedge.org.
About Easterseals’ 100-Year Celebration: Easterseals invites everyone to join in celebrating 100 years of impact in the lives of individuals with disabilities, their families and communities throughout America. Easterseals aims to create a future where every one of us – regardless of age or ability – is 100% included and 100% empowered. To learn more about how Easterseals Northeast Central Florida is taking on disability in our communities and making this vision a reality, visit www.eastersealsnecfl.org.
Easterseals Northeast Central Florida has formed its inaugural IMPACT Team, and Easterseals staff is abuzz about its potential. The group of eight held its first meeting April 15 at Easterseals in Daytona Beach.
Easterseals Service Coordinator Supervisor Brenna Giblock, MSW, described the group’s purpose and explained its ability to make a difference through “impact.”
“Impact is defined as the impression made by an idea, a powerful effect that something new has on a situation or person, or to have influence on something,” wrote Giblock in the recruitment materials.
“This group of Easterseals team members has the opportunity to embrace these ideas and influence Easterseals’ future,” she wrote, adding encouragement for the group to “shake things up and break routines and mindsets that keep them from growing personally or professionally.”
The Spring 2019 IMPACT Team was formed as a result of strategic planning at Easterseals and is a method for enhancing employee engagement. The purpose of IMPACT Team is to create opportunities for employees to affect the future progress of Easterseals, and to empower them to be leaders who bring their strengths and ideas into their leadership roles. President/CEO Bev Johnson sees the group as a catalyst for making positive changes throughout the organization.
“IMPACT Team is comprised of our future leaders. We are committed to doing all we can to encourage them to gain knowledge, grow and move Easterseals forward to benefit our client families,” said Johnson. “I anticipate seeing IMPACT Team make positive differences in our organization and affect how we help others live, learn, work, play and act – all of which are essential ingredients of Easterseals’ purpose.”
The program, which will commence twice annually, consists of five required sessions, team projects and participation in an Easterseals fundraiser. Spring 2019 IMPACT Team participants are:
IMPACT Team members noted in their applications several goals for their participation, including encouraging posivity and growth for employees, gaining greater insight into programs, serving families better, and using the new skills on and off the job. The team is comprised of members who have been endorsed by their supervisors and directors to participate, who also are excited about the opportunity for their employees.
“I feel (the employee I recommended for IMPACT Team) has wonderful customer service and organizational skills and would benefit from enhancing her ability to relate to others and be an extension of Easterseals in the community,” said one supervisor, while another added that his employee “has huge potential and already has ‘wowed’ many with her efforts in such a short time.”
IMPACT Team meetings are scheduled through July at varying Easterseals offices and events, with graduation planned for August 15.
Easterseals Northeast Central Florida is offering free autism spectrum disorder (ASD) screenings for children ages 18 months to 17 years at its Daytona Beach location, 1219 Dunn Ave.
Walk-ins are welcome weekdays from 9:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Parents and guardians should allow 20-30 minutes for the screening once the appointment begins.
More than 2 million Americans live with ASD, a neurological developmental disorder that impairs the ability to communicate and interact. With love and community support, they can live independent and productive lives.
Each year, Easterseals Northeast Central Florida serves more than 500 children who have been diagnosed with ASD. The nonprofit agency also operates the Autism Center of Excellence – a one-stop center for diagnosis, interventions and case management for children who were referred by their physician for evaluation of ASD.
To learn more about Easterseals’ autism services, visit http://www.easterseals.com/necfl/our-programs/. For questions about the free autism screenings, please call 386-944-7815 or email Davine Vincent at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our April 2 World Autism Awareness Day Celebration at Easterseals Northeast Central Florida was a big hit!
Thank you to our autism providers and experts who participated in World Autism Day Celebration at Easterseals! Volusia County Schools, Florida Autism Center, Tobii Dynavox (assistive technology for communication), BASS Port Orange, Special Olympics Florida - Volusia County, Surfers for Autism, Barnes & Mcdonnell Pediatric Dentistry DDS, Special Needs Ability Program, Inc., Neural Balance, UCF CARD - Center for Autism and Related Disabilities, Adapt Behavioral Services, Volusia Flagler Family YMCA, Disability Solutions for Independent Living, Inc., WORC, Inc., The Little Gym, Hope Reins, Inc, and so many more. Such a wonderful day for support and advocacy!
And, thank you to the Daytona Beach News Journal for covering our event and sharing the news of Easterseals with your readers. Read the story here.