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TimberNook from an OT Perspective

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The TimberNook program is designed to provide children the opportunity to explore nature, learn from the environment around them, and engage in creative play. As occupational therapists, we understand how much an individual’s environment can impact their overall growth. Occupational therapy views play as the most important element to a child’s development. As the American Occupational Therapy Association explains,   “It is often through play that children learn to make sense of the world around them. It is a child’s ‘job’ or ‘occupation’ to play to develop physical coordination, emotional maturity, social skills to interact with other children, and self-confidence to try new experiences and explore new environments.”   TimberNook provides the opportunity for children to develop all these areas while playing outside in nature. Throughout the summer, we have observed an increase in self-direction and development of new skills as children were challenged to engage in play with few directions and no adults providing suggestions about what they could play. The Storybook session with children ages 4-7 began with a morning song, get to know you game, rule review and reading a book before the kids were set loose to play with whatever and whomever they chose. As an adult, watching children navigate social situations, maneuver around obstacles in the woods, and create new games from their own imaginations was an amazing thing to witness. As the week progressed, younger children were asking for help from the older kids and working together to execute a plan or simply open a container.   Another valuable element to TimberNook is the focus on developing independence and problem-solving. In today’s world, children are so prone to seeking adult guidance as soon as something becomes challenging – not so with Timbernook. Children are given the time and space to think through how they could approach any given task and be successful. When they ask a TimberNook staff member a question, staff will often say “how do you think you could solve that problem?” before providing a suggestion. Children are also encouraged to develop the skill of “interoception” by acknowledging when their bodies need water and snacks to fuel themselves throughout the day. Once the kids realized they were able to go get their own snack and drink, asking for help from peers as needed, they began working in a snack break into their play to recharge for the rest of the day. It’s amazing what time and space can do to encourage children to learn and grow!   Ready to give the TimberNook experience a try? There are still 3 sessions left this year! Learn more and register here.          Kristen Beverly, MS, OTS Molly Bartholomew, MS, OTS Elizabethtown College

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When is a Sock-Hop more than just a dance?

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Flashback to the 1950’s at a Sock-Hop.  “The Stroll” is playing and you grab your dance partner and line up across from them as the music fills your ears and the feeling of being part of something fills your entire being.  Your eyes are greeted with smiles and you hear giggling and chatting from all around you.  You are part of something wonderful, something enviable, something that tells your soul that everything is going to be alright and you are right where you are supposed to be. Two weeks ago, Excentia’s Sock-Hop event was thrown to create opportunities for increased socialization with peers for people living in the homes managed by Excentia.  It was a cookout and dance, to spend time getting to know others, and to dance the day away.  A chance to belong and make friends that will last a lifetime. You may have a family cookout, that you invite the people closest to you, it was like that only it was the Excentia RES family.  Finding ways to connect with each other is an important piece of socialization and a first step on the path to community integration. “The Sock-Hop theme was just for fun as we love to dress up and have a great time (the Halloween being one of our biggest events and the individuals loving to go shopping and get all dressed in costume).  Next year we are looking at having an event that invites family members of those we support as a way to build positive relationships with families and the company.” shared Anna Edling, Assistant Director of Residential Services. If you would like to learn more about Excentia’s Residential Services, please contact Anna Edling or June Johnston on our website. https://www.ourexcentia.org/about/#team-and-board

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Tyler's Story

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Tyler is an energetic kid who loves to play with Legos and Power Rangers. His favorite color is blue and he loves reading Disney’s McQueen Series. He also enjoys playing at parks and playgrounds.   Tyler attends S. June Smith Center’s Inclusive Preschool. While Tyler doesn’t have any developmental needs, his parents shared with us a little bit about how the S. June Smith Center affected Tyler when his brother Max received services.   “Tyler was born with no issues and did not personally need the services.   But, Tyler participated with Max throughout his entire journey with the S. June Smith Center to date – from therapies to preschool!”   They continued to express how beneficial it was to have the S. June Smith Center involved in both of their lives, “We enjoy the fact that Tyler and Max can attend a preschool right now during the development stages where they really rely on each other.  Eventually, they may go to different schools, but they currently remain together where Tyler helps Max physically and Max helps Tyler socially!” This family-centered approach is at the core of the S. June Smith Center’s philosophy for delivering services.   Family time is very important to Tyler. He loves spending time with his twin brother, Max; big sisters, Emmie and Cami; and their puppy, Macy.

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Jada's Story

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When you meet Jada, the first thing you will notice about her is how energetic and loving she is! It is no surprise that this energetic girl loves to run around outside, swim, dance like a ballerina and play with her friends and cousins. She also enjoys coloring and putting puzzles together.   Jada has received services from the S. June Smith Center’s Birth to Three program. Michelle, Jada’s mom, shared about how the S. June Smith Center has made a significant impact on Jada’s development.   “Jada received speech, occupational therapy and special instruction until she turned 3. Her clarity and number of words she spoke improved; they [interventionists from the S. June Smith Center] gave us strategies to use to help with the sensory issues to calm her down; they were a part of her initial integration into a day care setting and it was wonderful to have that support and partnering.” Michelle has been touched by the amount of caring and attention she received from staff at the S. June Smith Center and feels it was one of the best aspects of working with the S. June Smith Center.   “The personal attention my daughter received from the therapists. They kept me abreast on her problems, advances, etc.  Each therapist brought specific knowledge to the table to help my daughter.”   Jada is a sweet little girl who loves the color pink and playing with her stuffed kitty. Her favorite book is Llama Llama Nighty Night.

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Allegra's Story

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When we asked Anthony and Kristie what one word best to describe their daughter, Allegra’s, personality they answered, “charismatic!”  Their family started their journey with the S. June Smith Center through our Birth to Three program where Allegra received physical, occupational, and speech therapy in their home.  The three therapists from the S. June Smith Center worked with Tony, Kristie, and Allegra on a regular basis until Allegra reached a point where she graduated from needing services.   While our therapists certainly miss spending time with Allegra and her family, it’s a true success story when we can see our kiddos thriving on their own.  Kristie and Tony shared that they enjoyed interacting with Allegra’s therapists and seeing her grow and develop in a fun environment.   Kristie and Allegra continue to utilize the services from the S. June Smith Center as they together attend a weekly S.P.L.A.S.H. class.   Allegra loves to play with her dolls, while she also enjoys dress up, dancing and singing. Her favorite color is purple! And, her favorite book is I’ll Be Me and You Be You.

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