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Nurses Amy DeSantis, left, and Courtney Schiersing have had a strong bond ever since DeSantis served as Schiersing’s primary caregiver in Women & Children’s Hospital’s NICU after she was born more than 3 months early in 1999. DeSantis is now helping to train Schiersing as a NICU nurse.
Following the Work Wherever It Leads
Heritage Christian Services (HCS) is a nonsectarian human services agency that supports over 2,000 children, adolescents, and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) from across Buffalo and Rochester, NY through a multitude of programs including respite care, community habilitation, employment supports, residential programming, and recreational activities. The agency was incorporated as Heritage Christian Home in 1980 and opened its first home for nine children with developmental disabilities in 1984. In 2003, Heritage Christian Home changed its name to Heritage Christian Services, to more accurately reflect the range of programs now offered.
With this project, and working through our commitment to solution-focused and trauma-informed approaches, the hope is to incorporate evidence-based, dyadic behavior intervention modalities specifically designed for children who struggle emotionally, socially, developmentally and behaviorally at home, at school, and in the community. Student’s behaviors, which are often related to a developmental, learning, or intellectual disability, can be challenging for families to understand and navigate at their child’s young age.
To that end, Gateway Longview’s Early Intervention Learning Site looks to introduce the complimentary approaches of Teacher-Child Interaction Therapy (TCIT) and Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT), both of which are evidence-based observation and live feedback techniques. Specifically, through the incorporation of TCIT and PCIT, we look to:
1) Increase parental, teacher, and student confidence, resulting in greater participation in life and learning opportunities, wellness skills, and overall independence,
2) Increase positive functioning of children in public settings, resulting in expanded student and family participation in social activities,
3) Increase knowledge and ability to utilize technology available, resulting in enhanced interventions and assessments that are specific to each child’s needs.
By consistently reinforcing positive behaviors at school, at home, and in the community, the project aims to equip both parents and educators with proven supports to ensure strong building blocks for successful integration for the children in their care into various aspects of the communities around them.
This project, an ADA-approved inclusive special needs playground, along with other therapeutic outdoor equipment is located on the property of The Arc's Preschool Education program located at 205 Yorkshire Road in Tonawanda. This equipment will play a crucial role in the physical and occupational therapy plans contained in the Individual Education Programs for more than 260 children daily. The intent is not only for this equipment to serve as a therapeutic tool for the students but also to promote inclusiveness with all of the community members, parents and kids. Parkitects, Inc., a highly respected playground/equipment installer has completed numerous projects for public sites and programs like the Green-Acres Playground.
In addition, the organization has partnered with Jason Evchich of Mason’s Mission, a local Foundation dedicated to constructing inclusive programs in Western New York. Jason has agreed to serve as the project’s chairperson and liaison with Parkitects. Jason has two children currently enrolled at Green Acres.
SABAH provides adaptive physical education over the summer months to children challenged by disability and economic disadvantage. The turf-based physical education program provides a curriculum for children challenged by disability in the region's schools.
The Children's Guild Foundation along with The Peter & Elizabeth Tower Foundation have helped make the Rock Autism Multimedia Vocational Programs become a reality.
MDA's annual summer camp at the Rotary Sunshine Campus in Rush, NY is open to children anywhere, but primarily serves children in Western and Central NY, including the counties of Erie, Niagara, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Allegany, Wyoming, Orleans, Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Seneca, Wayne, Yates, Onondaga, Oswego, Cayuga, Cortland, Herkimer, Oneida, Madison, St. Lawrence, Jefferson, Lewis, Broome, Tompkins, Tioga, Chenango, Otsego, Steuben, Chemung, Schuyler, Sullivan, and Delaware.
Currently, they know of 180 children in the 34 counties their office serves who are eligible to attend MDA summer camp in 2019. 44 of these children are from our eight focus counties. In 2018, 57 campers from the total region attended the summer camp in Rush, NY. 16 of these children were from our 8-county focus area.