For those who haven’t yet heard of it, Plymouth Rock Studios™ is a brand new film and television digital studio complex in Plymouth, Mass., set to open in 2010. As the ROCK (as it is fondly referred to) staffs up, they knew they had the opportunity to create a movement that changes the game for people with disabilities when it comes to employment.
That’s why they’ve partnered with Best Buddies, a nonprofit organization dedicated to enhancing the lives of people with intellectual disabilities by providing opportunities for friendships and integrated employment. As it is, there’s an 80 percent unemployment rate for people with disabilities. Like the Arc, Best Buddies and now Plymouth Rock Studios are working to change that.
The ROCK is committed to working with Best Buddies to be a leader in its jobs program through the ROCK Educational Cooperative, and is proud to introduce the newest ROCK employee, Peter Johnson.
Have a look at this short video created by the gang at Plymouth Rock Studios, as part of their daily webisodes, aptly titled The Series.
Thanks to everyone at Plymouth Rock Studios and The Series. We greatly appreciate your work towards employment equality.
There’s no denying the importance and value of education when it comes to raising a child with developmental disabilities. Parents should know what resources are available to them so that they can best support their child. They should be familiar with laws and policies surrounding access to care.
But for many parents — especially those who’ve never raised a disabled child before — getting this knowledge and education can be difficult. They’re left in the dark about services and programs that might greatly benefit them and their child.
We shed light on some of these resources when we talked to Arc board member Cat West as part of our Meet the Boards series. Our podcast is above for you to listen in.
You might recognize Cat as the host of Building Bridges in the Community, The Arc’s show on BCTV. In our podcast, Cat tells the story of her son Joey, who was born with Down syndrome. She reflects on the moment when she learned Joey had Down syndrome, and the emotional roller coaster she and her family went through. She explains the next steps she took to begin caring for Joey and managing his condition.
Then two year later, things became worse. Joey was diagnosed with autism. That’s when Cat became involved with The Arc. The organization provided Joey with autism therapy, which proved to be very successful. She says The Arc helped her learn so much about managing both autism and Down syndrome, and pointed her to the resources she needed to get educated.
Take a listen and learn more about resources you might not realize are available to you. Education can take away much of the anxiety in raising a developmentally disabled child, and it’s important to continue learning about new aids out there. Oh, and don’t mind the sounds of her children and dogs in the background! ;)
The Arc is inviting everyone to join us for the Mitch Herman Memorial Golf Tournament on Saturday, June 6. Pull out your clubs and make your way to the Willow Hollow Golf Course for a day of golf, friendly competition, prizes, gifts, food, drinks, and more.
We have a few contests teed up, such as a four-person scramble, putting contest, closest-to-the-pin contest, and longest-drive contest. Prizes will be given to our top golfers — including a large flat-screen TV!
Lunch will be served, as will as beer, cigars, and other essential libations courtesy of the lovely cart girls. If you’ve never been to Willow Hollow, it’s a beautiful course. Check out pics on their Web site.
This tournament is in honor of local native Mitch Herman, who passed away in December 2001. He was many things to many people, but he was best known as a golfer. And so, on June 6, we will continue to celebrate his life, and remember what he meant to everyone who knew him.
The Arc joins us in this celebration because Mitch’s brother Matt has Down syndrome. All proceeds from the tournament will benefit people in Berks County with developmental disabilities, and their families.
Delivering a baby with a developmental disability is a life-changing experience. But for Ann Marie Berardi of Collegeville, Pa., it was a positive one for her and her family, because The Arc was there.
I talked to her recently about her experience with The Arc. You can hear my interview below. I learned how the organization has helped her raise her three-year-old son, Nicholas, who has Down syndrome. Ann Marie didn’t know Nicholas had the condition until he was born. So it was quite a surprise.
“I just doubted myself as a mother,” Ann Marie says. “How could I mother him? … I guess that’s, for a lot of the moms, their thoughts. You know, now that I look back on it, it was a very silly thing. I love being a mom to him. And it was through The Arc and through the therapists that have taught me many things in life with him.”
Ann Marie has no history of developmental disabilities in her family. She explains that she believes Nicholas has the condition because she and her husband had him later in life.
Ann Marie talks about the grieving period she went through after finding out Nicholas has Down syndrome. She was lost and confused. But then the wife of her husband’s business partner suggested they connect with The Arc. Ann Marie looked into it, and decided to reach out.
At two weeks old, Nicholas joined The Arc’s Early Intervention program. Arc physical therapists began working with Nicholas in the family’s home every week. He was alert and responsive, and bonded with the therapists right away. Although they were strangers, Ann Marie says Nicholas knew in his heart the therapists were there to help him.
At two years old, Nicholas was very delayed in his growth motor skills. Arc occupational and physical therapists came twice a week to work with Nicholas, and a special ed. teacher and speech therapist came once a week.
It all paid off. On Oct. 18 of this year, Nicholas graduated from The Arc’s Early Intervention program, right on schedule. Ann Marie recalls that day, and remembers it being bittersweet. She was saddened, because she was closing a chapter in her and her son’s life; but hopeful, because a new one would soon be opening.
Nicholas now goes to school five days a week, during morning sessions. He attends the Blue Bell Elementary IU three days a week, and a public preschool two days a week.
The Arc provides the IU classroom. It’s language-based, and Nicholas recieves education, as well as speech, occupational, and physical therapy. He’s there with seven other developmentally disabled children, some of which also have Down syndrome.
Nicholas is doing very well in both schools. His speech and fine motor skills are improving, and his classmates love him. “It’s all due to the Arc,” says Ann Marie.
Through it all, the biggest thing she learned is that it’s easier to accept and understand Nicholas’s diagnosis and help him through his delays. “They helped me reach out, go out into the community,” she says. “And be proud that here’s my son Nicholas, he is Down syndrome, and it’s ok.”
Ann Marie can’t imagine where she’d be today without The Arc. “They mean everything to me,” she says.
Get a closer look inside her story by listening my interview below.
I got into the sports media to tell stories that emphasize the positive, and recall the reasons we love sports. Steven and Bruce Cartwright are the perfect example of the good side of sports storytelling.
Thanks to the efforts of The Arc’s PR gal, Dawn-Marie Fichera, I was able to get in touch with Steven (son) and Bruce (father), and spend a day at Citizen’s Bank Park watching Steven’s favorite team, the Phillies. The goal of the story was to take viewers back to their youth, when you went to the park and Dad taught you how the game works by “keeping the book.”
The process of scoring a baseball game is no easy task, but it was a bonding experience for me and my father when I grew up watching baseball games, and I hoped to capture a similar moment with Steven and Bruce.
The process was simple once Dawn-Marie got us together. We scored some tickets to the game, and met outside the park. We talked a little bit outside, got a program, you know “PROGRAM, GET YOUR PROGRAM!!” and then Steven and Bruce headed into the park.
Thanks to the Phillies, who hooked us up with great seats, Steven and Bruce got to watch the Phils up close and personal; luckily for Steven not too up close and personal with the Phillie Phanatic. I found out he is not a huge fan of big green.
Once the game started, I left them be to enjoy the day. I asked they “keep the book,” and that Bruce teach Steven the basics of scoring baseball. We put a microphone on them to capture their discussions. After a 5th inning interview and an eventful trip to track down some snacks, it was back to the seats to finish the game.
The treat for me was getting back to the office and listening to Bruce and Steven interact during the game. You could see Steven picking up the scorekeeping and really enjoying the game. Some of the priceless moments that gave me chills: “I like my dad best for taking me to a baseball game;” “By the way dad … you’re the best;” “(announcer) ‘Now Chase Utley’s up’ … (Steven) ‘Ooooh Chase Utley, he’s a great hitter.’”
The story shaped into something that made me very proud. It was not a hard story to tell once we found a father and son who remembered why sports are important.
Part of our blog’s mission is to bring together our members in the advocacy community and promote active citizenship. We want to provide everyone with a forum to voice their opinions, share their struggles, and find support to improve the quality of life of the mentally disabled.
With that mind, we welcome anyone to join our team as a guest blogger. If you have something on your mind that you want others to know about, our blog is a great way to share it.
Whether you want to blog once, twice, or on a regular basis, just contact Dawn Marie Fichera at DawnMarie@GregoryFCA.com or 610-228-2103. Let her know you’d like to be a guest blogger, and she’ll work with you to get your thoughts posted!
When we told the media about our Father’s Group outing to the Phillies game last month, the producer of the CN8 show Out of Bounds, Tim Walton, contacted us. He said his team was unable to cover the event unfortunately, but was working on a Father Day’s segment about a father teaching his son to keep score at a baseball game, known around the diamond as “keeping the book.”
Tim was looking for a local father and son that fit the bill, and asked The Arc if anyone from the organization would like to participate in his story. We asked around, and found the perfect father-son duo: Bruce Cartwright and his 10-year-old son Steven.
The Out of Bounds crew filmed Bruce teaching Steven how to score a game, and captured what a day the ballpark really is about: the special feeling of sitting under the big lights, with the field stretched out below, the crowd cheering, the smell of hodogs and soft preztals in the air, and families being together.
The segment airs tonight at 7 on CN8, so tune in to check it out. If you miss it, we’re trying to get a clip to post to the blog soon.
Thanks, Tim, for sharing Bruce and Steven’s story with the community! And way to go, Bruce and Steven. You’re an inspiration to us all!