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 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 email@example.com.
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.
Research shows that a child’s first three years are the most important time for learning. Assistance through programs such as Early Steps helps children proceed on the right path as they learn and develop.
Early Steps is a statewide system of early intervention services for families with infants and toddlers who are not reaching age-appropriate milestones.
With a focus on helping children reach their full potential in how they live, learn and play, Early Steps providers teach parents and other caregivers ways to improve child development through everyday routines. Locally through Easterseals Northeast Central Florida, Early Steps North Beaches is helping little ones develop and learn to their highest potential.
"At North Beaches Early Steps, our top priority is to help each and every child meet their individual developmental milestones," said Program Director Stephanie Ellis-Clark. "We understand that all children are special and that there is no comparison as to when a child will meet that milestone. Our focus is to make sure that we celebrate with them, every step of the way!"
In honor of national Easterseals 100th anniversary this year, Ellis-Clark offers 100 typical developmental milestones for children ages two months to three years based on CDC research, listed below. More information about Early Steps North Beaches can be found on the Easterseals Northeast Central Florida website.
100 Typical Developmental Milestones
2 months old
One of Easterseals Northeast Central Florida‘s biggest champions for the past several decades has been David Hood. We learned earlier this week that David passed away with his family by his side. We at Easterseals are heartbroken at this news, while at the same time we continue to be grateful for his life, legacy and all he’s accomplished for our Easterseals families.
David was an incredible leader in Easterseals gift planning initiatives, and through his personal dedication and widely embraced leadership style, helped Easterseals realize some of its most spectacular wishes and dreams. David’s leadership made possible Easterseals Autism Center of Excellence, Easterseals Charter School, Easterseals Tennis Everyone! program, and Easterseals nearly $3 million capital campaign, which he co-chaired with the late Gloria Cook.
And, this is just the beginning of what David helped Easterseals achieve since he became a volunteer director more than three decades ago.
After serving as a board member, chairman of the board, and honorary director, David was named an Honorary Life Director. He also was a recipient of the Lily award, Easterseals Northeast Central Florida’s highest local honor.
It may go without saying that David also was a generous financial supporter of Easterseals, not only during its community-wide campaign drives, but also privately and behind the scenes when specific needs have arisen. David is the kind of leader who asks, “What does Easterseals need most right now?” and his heart led his service.
Easterseals President & CEO Bev Johnson continues to see David’s legacy of caring leadership at Easterseals.
“When I first joined the organization and let people know I worked for Easterseals they all asked how David was,” said Bev. “He was so passionate about Easterseals that the mention of the organization almost seemed to automatically connect him to it.
“While I didn’t enjoy the privilege of knowing him personally, he certainly left a legacy of kindness and caring for our clients and the families who love them,” she added.
Former Easterseals President & CEO Lynn Sinnott remembers David with reverence and affection.
“David Hood demonstrated his commitment to individuals with disabilities in many ways. He served on the Easterseals board in many capacities, including the chairman of the board, board chair for the newly established Easterseals Charter School, and co-chair of the Capital Campaign Committee that raised $2.7 million for the renovation and expansion of the Easterseals facility on Dunn Avenue,” said Lynn. “David shared his business and leadership expertise with board and staff, serving as my mentor when I first started at Easterseals.
“In addition, David was a major donor, helping Easterseals start several major programs that changed the lives of individuals with special needs,” added Lynn. “I know he will truly be missed in the Daytona community.”
Our thoughts and prayers are with David’s family during this difficult time. Easterseals Northeast Central Florida always will be indebted to this great man, humbled by his servant leadership and forever transformed by his passion. He will be greatly missed.
Easterseals Northeast Central Florida’s passionate supporter, lifetime director and beloved matriarch Gloria Cook passed away on March 17. While we at Easterseals are brokenhearted at the news, we also remember Gloria with great reverence, and honor all she’s meant to our organization – the one that was closest to her heart for more than 60 years.
Gloria’s relationship with Easterseals Northeast Central Florida began in 1953 when she, as a young Junior Service Leaguer, donned a crisp white uniform and worked hands-on with an Easterseals therapist to treat the special needs of children with disabilities. That first volunteer assignment began a lifelong unpaid career in serving the needs of people of all ages with disabilities.
Gloria’s involvement in day-to-day activities of the Junior League Orthopedic Center (which became Easterseals) eventually evolved into fundraising and volunteer management, and she soon worked her way up to the board and presidency of the local and state Easterseals affiliates. By 1980, Gloria was elected as the National Easterseal Society President and was the first Floridian and only the second woman to occupy that position.
As national president, worked with as many as 800,000 volunteers across the country, and met with various private and governmental agencies and hospitals, national media offices and state rehabilitation facilities and all Easterseals affiliates to further the mission of serving persons with disabilities.
Gloria was named Honorary Lifetime Director for Easterseals Volusia/Flagler in tribute to her continuous board member and committee roles and in 2004 was honored with Easterseals’ Volusia and Flagler’s highest honor, The Lily Award. Additionally, she served multiple leadership roles with the statewide Florida Easterseals chapter over a span of 21 years – including president, vice president, secretary and past president – and assisted the House of Delegates of Easterseals national headquarters. Her commitment to serving others also flowed into several additional national and local roles, including the White House Conference on Food, Nutrition and Health and the National Institute of Health.
One of Gloria’s most notable achievements as an Easterseals director was co-chairing with the late David Hood a $3 million capital campaign to construct Easterseals’ Daytona Beach facility. Notably, Gloria was the Easterseals chair when the original facility was built as well. Her leadership brought both projects to reality, though more than 40 years separated them.
Gloria’s life’s work for Easterseals shaped countless public policy and helped decision-makers understand issues important to Easterseals. And, while she often focused on state and national initiatives, she remained equally engaged in the local agency’s day-to-day projects. From collection donations for Harley Give-Aways during Bike Week, to supporting the inaugural and now decades-established Rotary/Easterseals Golf Tournament (a tournament started by her late husband Tom in tribute to Gloria’s dedication), Gloria was a hands-on supporter.
Easterseals VP-Gift Planning Susan Moor recalls their friendship and Gloria’s sincere interest in Easterseals families.
"Gloria was a wonderful friend and mentor to me since day one and throughout my Easterseals career,” said Susan. “I think what I valued the most in her contagious and unbridled pride for all things Easterseals, was her incredible ability to remember and value details about her interactions with our clients and their families. Our clients meant the world to her and she would often arrive at meetings and functions early enough to peek into the classroom and therapy areas to see kids at work and play."
“Gloria has been a guiding light for us at Easterseals for many, many years,” said Easterseals President & CEO Bev Johnson. “Her kind spirit and love and dedication to the clients we serve is absolutely irreplaceable. She will be missed greatly.”
Former Easterseals President & CEO Lynn Sinnott also shared her sentiments.
“Gloria Cook loved Easterseals and served individuals with special needs throughout her adult life. She served in so many capacities during more than 60 years she was a part of Easterseals it would be almost impossible to name them.
“I remember her as gracious, strategic, fun, loving and caring,” added Lynn. “She took time to discuss a small or strategic issue with me, pen the most beautiful notes, help to make a connection and even questioning a budget number. Every action was handled thoughtfully. I will miss her, as will whole Easterseals organization and all who experienced her passion.”
Instilling in her children a love for Easterseals and a desire for service, Gloria’s daughter Sheryl continues to be a leader with Easterseals Northeast Central Florida.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the Cook family during this difficult time. Gloria’s vision, heart and loyalty live on in Easterseals Northeast Central Florida. She always will be an important part of our family – a beloved matriarch to whom we owe much gratitude.