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A platform for our community to have positive impact, cultivate honest conversation, and stand strong together through encouraging and relatable articles/stories about our struggles, accomplishments and stories.

The Slattery Home - Beyond Accessible

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The tale that brings Dr. Ed Slattery’s family to their current state of living- in one of the most amazing adaptive homes I’ve ever seen- is not an enviable one.  A horrific crash with a tractor trailer changed the landscape of their lives forever.  The response and actions that the family took to create an adaptive living space, is what is inspiring to those in the differently-abled community.  Whatever the circumstances are that led to a loved one inhabiting a wheelchair, this environment is undoubtedly the one that we would all choose to make the situation feel like less of a burden.  Knowing that a regularly designed home was not going to serve his family- an outpouring of creativity, circular thinking, and imagination blossomed just outside the metropolitan center of Baltimore.  The home that Dr. Ed Slattery helped to design and appoint features a myriad of both subtle and diverse adaptations to allow his son, Matthew, to live in a space that works for him and the chair he depends on for daily living.  Some of the features are specifically geared towards mobility ease for Matthew and some are to support the goal of a zero impact house. Before you reach the front door to the Slattery home, you encounter raised garden beds designed to allow Matthew to be able to comfortably reach the full planting space.  The beds are built from the same hardwoods that finish the exterior of the home.  Not only are they long-lasting and beautiful but also an esthetic choice that keeps the façade of the property tied to the beauty and functionality created by zero impact design. At the entrance to the home there are two uncommon features that are deeply enviable to any who regularly operate a wheelchair.  The inlaid “walk-off” carpeting feature that is located at both the exterior and the interior walkway at the front door allows for the benefits of a doormat without the hassles of a traditional rug that would bunch and shift as wheels run across the surface.  The exterior features a trough beneath that can be cleaned and the carpet area replaced as needed.  At all of the entrances to the home there are electronic buttons that open the door to allow for passage unencumbered by heavy doors. Once inside the home, which is oriented to best take advantage of the sun’s warming rays, you are further comforted by the radiant floor heat throughout the living space.  Railings in the corridors allow for stability if Matthew is venturing, sans chair, down any of the hallways.  When the home was built, the family was not sure what level of recovery he may achieve and what features would prove most important to his ultimate mobility. Pocket doors and sliding barn doors equip each doorway- allowing for ease of movement thru hallways and entrances to rooms.  The interior rooms that Matthew frequents are also equipped with electronic buttons that open and close the pocket doors. Another feature that has served the family well is the enlarged kick-plates that run the length of the hallways and the interiors of the rooms.  At 12 inches high, this feature keeps the wheelchair from unintentionally gouging the walls.  In every room there are cupboards that feature a cantilevered style which allows Matthew to roll in close enough to access the interiors completely.  This style of hanging cabinetry is found in the living room, kitchen, bathrooms, and Matthew’s bedroom. The kitchen is designed to allow for Matthew’s full access to all of the appliances.  There is a sink that is cantilevered replete with touch controls, a vertically adjustable cook-top fitted with a pot-filler, as well as a microwave oven situated below the oven for ease of reach.  The microwave also opens up/down rather than side-to-side which creates an intermediate landing for handling hot vessels.  The one kitchen appliance that does not live up to Slattery’s standards is the refrigerator.  The interior cavity, of all of the coolers they researched, is too deep to allow for access to anything but items in the very front of the shelves or on the doors. Dr. Ed Slattery works with local “hackers” to create better solutions to the difficulties of daily living for those who are wheelchair bound.  We fully expect one of his protégés to hack the refrigerator conundrum in the future. Half of the roof-scape of the Slattery home is planted with herbs that can be harvested easily from the pathway or by walking through the plantings.  The pathway leads to the observation tower which overlooks the back of the property, including fruit trees and gardens, and ultimately the skyline of Towson.   The interior of the three-story tower holds a unique chair lift that allows Matthew to use counter weights to pull himself, while seated, from the first story to the third.  It is a fully unique feature that demonstrates the delight the Slattery family finds in living within their environment. Everything about this residence is unique and it reflects the care and thoughtful nature that Dr. Slattery bestows upon his entire family and community.  

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Inclusive Preschool Program Benefits

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The S. June Smith Center has an inclusive preschool program. Our classroom provides an inviting, welcoming and nurturing environment that includes all children from the neighborhood community, regardless of their abilities.   Inclusive environments are also supported by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). NAEYC (ideal I.1.8-ethical responsibility to children) supports the right of each child to play and learn in an inclusive environment that meets the needs of children with and without disabilities.   Our preschool classrooms provide the type of environment supported by the NAEYC every day. We try to help people to see the “possibility” in individuals instead of the “disability”.   Meeting a Child’s Learning Needs through Diverse Teaching Strategies All children in our inclusive preschool classrooms reach their developmental potential with the guidance of teaching and support staff who use diverse teaching strategies which target the strengths and learning styles of each child. This type of instruction provides a framework for teaching, learning, and assessment that not only helps us meet the developmental and academic needs of our students but also inspires feelings of safety, comfort, excitement, motivation and satisfaction in our diverse classrooms.   We often hear from parents that Kindergarten teachers are impressed with how well the children from our program are able to draw their names and print their letters!  We use the “First Strokes Handwriting Program” in our preschool classrooms. This is a sensory-based approach to learning to make the letter shapes. All our students benefit from this easy and fun approach to learning to draw their letters. What’s even more exciting is watching the children work together to create large letter-of-the-week designs using blocks or other theme-related objects as we learn our alphabet.   Creating Attitudes of Mutual Respect in Children An inclusive preschool classroom provides an early awareness of diversity and the needs of others. These shared preschool experiences enable children without disabilities to accept others by appreciating likenesses and helping to understand differences.   Throughout our school year, we provide activities as part of a unit called: “We Are All Alike... We Are All Different” Children work together in pairs to discover how they are alike and how they are different. This activity and simply participating in an inclusive environment helps to create mutual respect among all children.   As a classroom teacher, I know that inclusion has been successful when the children without a disability bring toys, games or even adapted learning materials over to their classmates who cannot walk or move independently throughout the classroom without being asked to do this by an adult. It demonstrates that they understand this particular friend likes to play with toys or games just as much as they do, but simply need assistance in order to get the toy or game.  I also like when the families in our classrooms get together for pre-arranged play dates or birthday celebrations and include everyone…even those children with more involved needs.Throughout our school year, we provide activities as part of a unit called: “We Are All Alike... We Are All Different” Children work together in pairs to discover how they are alike and how they are different. This activity and simply participating in an inclusive environment helps to create mutual respect among all children.   Inclusion Encourages Development of Social Skills in Children Children without special learning or developmental needs develop compassion for their friends and learn to advocate for these friends as they go through shared life and community experiences together. The benefits of inclusion for children with special learning and developmental needs include: nurtures self-esteem social interaction with peers facilitates communication and the development of social skills children acquire genuine friendships and life experiences within their community children develop self-advocacy skills needed throughout their lives   At S. June Smith Center we have been practicing inclusion at the preschool level since 1996. I have observed the development of true friendships in those years which have lasted through the child’s formal education years. I have observed classmates defending others whom are targeted for bullying once they move on to school age programs, and know that mutual respect and advocacy skills –learned at an early age—have been of great benefit to these children who have participated in an inclusive preschool classroom. It also creates a feeling of success when I hear children without disabilities explaining to others (usually an adult) why one of their classmates /friends uses a Big Mack switch or an iPad to “talk” with others in the classroom or in the community. Inclusion works!  

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The Slattery Home - Beyond Accessible

in

Thrive

The tale that brings Dr. Ed Slattery’s family to their current state of living- in one of the most amazing adaptive homes I’ve ever seen- is not an enviable one.  A horrific crash with a tractor trailer changed the landscape of their lives forever.  The response and actions that the family took to create an adaptive living space, is what is inspiring to those in the differently-abled community.  Whatever the circumstances are that led to a loved one inhabiting a wheelchair, this environment is undoubtedly the one that we would all choose to make the situation feel like less of a burden.  Knowing that a regularly designed home was not going to serve his family- an outpouring of creativity, circular thinking, and imagination blossomed just outside the metropolitan center of Baltimore.  The home that Dr. Ed Slattery helped to design and appoint features a myriad of both subtle and diverse adaptations to allow his son, Matthew, to live in a space that works for him and the chair he depends on for daily living.  Some of the features are specifically geared towards mobility ease for Matthew and some are to support the goal of a zero impact house. Before you reach the front door to the Slattery home, you encounter raised garden beds designed to allow Matthew to be able to comfortably reach the full planting space.  The beds are built from the same hardwoods that finish the exterior of the home.  Not only are they long-lasting and beautiful but also an esthetic choice that keeps the façade of the property tied to the beauty and functionality created by zero impact design. At the entrance to the home there are two uncommon features that are deeply enviable to any who regularly operate a wheelchair.  The inlaid “walk-off” carpeting feature that is located at both the exterior and the interior walkway at the front door allows for the benefits of a doormat without the hassles of a traditional rug that would bunch and shift as wheels run across the surface.  The exterior features a trough beneath that can be cleaned and the carpet area replaced as needed.  At all of the entrances to the home there are electronic buttons that open the door to allow for passage unencumbered by heavy doors. Once inside the home, which is oriented to best take advantage of the sun’s warming rays, you are further comforted by the radiant floor heat throughout the living space.  Railings in the corridors allow for stability if Matthew is venturing, sans chair, down any of the hallways.  When the home was built, the family was not sure what level of recovery he may achieve and what features would prove most important to his ultimate mobility. Pocket doors and sliding barn doors equip each doorway- allowing for ease of movement thru hallways and entrances to rooms.  The interior rooms that Matthew frequents are also equipped with electronic buttons that open and close the pocket doors. Another feature that has served the family well is the enlarged kick-plates that run the length of the hallways and the interiors of the rooms.  At 12 inches high, this feature keeps the wheelchair from unintentionally gouging the walls.  In every room there are cupboards that feature a cantilevered style which allows Matthew to roll in close enough to access the interiors completely.  This style of hanging cabinetry is found in the living room, kitchen, bathrooms, and Matthew’s bedroom. The kitchen is designed to allow for Matthew’s full access to all of the appliances.  There is a sink that is cantilevered replete with touch controls, a vertically adjustable cook-top fitted with a pot-filler, as well as a microwave oven situated below the oven for ease of reach.  The microwave also opens up/down rather than side-to-side which creates an intermediate landing for handling hot vessels.  The one kitchen appliance that does not live up to Slattery’s standards is the refrigerator.  The interior cavity, of all of the coolers they researched, is too deep to allow for access to anything but items in the very front of the shelves or on the doors. Dr. Ed Slattery works with local “hackers” to create better solutions to the difficulties of daily living for those who are wheelchair bound.  We fully expect one of his protégés to hack the refrigerator conundrum in the future. Half of the roof-scape of the Slattery home is planted with herbs that can be harvested easily from the pathway or by walking through the plantings.  The pathway leads to the observation tower which overlooks the back of the property, including fruit trees and gardens, and ultimately the skyline of Towson.   The interior of the three-story tower holds a unique chair lift that allows Matthew to use counter weights to pull himself, while seated, from the first story to the third.  It is a fully unique feature that demonstrates the delight the Slattery family finds in living within their environment. Everything about this residence is unique and it reflects the care and thoughtful nature that Dr. Slattery bestows upon his entire family and community.  

read more >

Carl Spangler - Red RoseRun

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Thrive

Carl Spangler flashes a shy smile as he sits in the press room at the Lancaster Barnstormer’s Stadium. Wearing a blue t-shirt and ball cap, which he frequently lowers to cover his face, he still can’t master the skill of trying to hide his beautifully straight teeth.   Spangler, a humble 56-year-old man, is preparing to run his 21st Red Rose Run in Lancaster on June 6th. He has been running for 36 years and has logged more than 5,080 miles in races alone. He has all of the stats memorized – where he has run, how many miles, what his time was … he is able to spit off his best times for different races straight from memory.   He runs simply because it’s “good exercise” and because it makes him feel “good.”   Spangler, who lives in a Keystone group home in East Petersburg, has run 11 marathons – his best time being 3 hours and 13 minutes in Chambersburg, Pa. He follows a strict running schedule – 2 miles Monday thru Thursday around 3 o’clock in the afternoon, making sure to always take Fridays off.   Today, he sits calmly while tapping his white-sneakered feet as he staples Barnstormers baseball tickets to flyers as part of the work he does for Excentia.   Brock Minnich, volunteer coordinator for Excentia, said Spangler is a dedicated, hard-working man who is pleasant to be around.   “He’s outgoing,” Minnich said. “He likes to talk and make conversation.”   Spangler appeared uncomfortable talking about himself, simply stating that his running ability must be due to “good genes.” He has a routine of eating a big plate of spaghetti before each race. At home, he has a shelf full of trophies and plaques, proudly displayed in his second-floor bedroom. He goes through each one, remembering where the race was held and the year, even though some of the trophies don’t have that information listed. Karen Krueger, Spangler’s house supervisor, said his running is a good social outlet for him. “He has a lot of racing friends who he’s run with for years,” Krueger said. While Spangler is more than just a runner – he also enjoys bowling – it is his running that attracts attention from others. “He’s the star,” Krueger said, adding that he has about 5 friends who will be watching him race in the Red Rose Run this year. The 39th annual Red Rose Run starts at 8 a.m. on June 6th, for those interested in cheering Spangler on throughout the course.

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Inclusive Preschool Program Benefits

in

Thrive

The S. June Smith Center has an inclusive preschool program. Our classroom provides an inviting, welcoming and nurturing environment that includes all children from the neighborhood community, regardless of their abilities.   Inclusive environments are also supported by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). NAEYC (ideal I.1.8-ethical responsibility to children) supports the right of each child to play and learn in an inclusive environment that meets the needs of children with and without disabilities.   Our preschool classrooms provide the type of environment supported by the NAEYC every day. We try to help people to see the “possibility” in individuals instead of the “disability”.   Meeting a Child’s Learning Needs through Diverse Teaching Strategies All children in our inclusive preschool classrooms reach their developmental potential with the guidance of teaching and support staff who use diverse teaching strategies which target the strengths and learning styles of each child. This type of instruction provides a framework for teaching, learning, and assessment that not only helps us meet the developmental and academic needs of our students but also inspires feelings of safety, comfort, excitement, motivation and satisfaction in our diverse classrooms.   We often hear from parents that Kindergarten teachers are impressed with how well the children from our program are able to draw their names and print their letters!  We use the “First Strokes Handwriting Program” in our preschool classrooms. This is a sensory-based approach to learning to make the letter shapes. All our students benefit from this easy and fun approach to learning to draw their letters. What’s even more exciting is watching the children work together to create large letter-of-the-week designs using blocks or other theme-related objects as we learn our alphabet.   Creating Attitudes of Mutual Respect in Children An inclusive preschool classroom provides an early awareness of diversity and the needs of others. These shared preschool experiences enable children without disabilities to accept others by appreciating likenesses and helping to understand differences.   Throughout our school year, we provide activities as part of a unit called: “We Are All Alike... We Are All Different” Children work together in pairs to discover how they are alike and how they are different. This activity and simply participating in an inclusive environment helps to create mutual respect among all children.   As a classroom teacher, I know that inclusion has been successful when the children without a disability bring toys, games or even adapted learning materials over to their classmates who cannot walk or move independently throughout the classroom without being asked to do this by an adult. It demonstrates that they understand this particular friend likes to play with toys or games just as much as they do, but simply need assistance in order to get the toy or game.  I also like when the families in our classrooms get together for pre-arranged play dates or birthday celebrations and include everyone…even those children with more involved needs.Throughout our school year, we provide activities as part of a unit called: “We Are All Alike... We Are All Different” Children work together in pairs to discover how they are alike and how they are different. This activity and simply participating in an inclusive environment helps to create mutual respect among all children.   Inclusion Encourages Development of Social Skills in Children Children without special learning or developmental needs develop compassion for their friends and learn to advocate for these friends as they go through shared life and community experiences together. The benefits of inclusion for children with special learning and developmental needs include: nurtures self-esteem social interaction with peers facilitates communication and the development of social skills children acquire genuine friendships and life experiences within their community children develop self-advocacy skills needed throughout their lives   At S. June Smith Center we have been practicing inclusion at the preschool level since 1996. I have observed the development of true friendships in those years which have lasted through the child’s formal education years. I have observed classmates defending others whom are targeted for bullying once they move on to school age programs, and know that mutual respect and advocacy skills –learned at an early age—have been of great benefit to these children who have participated in an inclusive preschool classroom. It also creates a feeling of success when I hear children without disabilities explaining to others (usually an adult) why one of their classmates /friends uses a Big Mack switch or an iPad to “talk” with others in the classroom or in the community. Inclusion works!  

read more >

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