UCP SmartBrief

Assistive Technology——————

Software helps children with disabilities communicate
Invention Labs has created a picture-based software application called Avaz to help children with cerebral palsy and other developmental disorders communicate. Company founder Ajit Narayanan said the software converts muscle movement into speech using pictures, so a user could put together the words “I like,” then choose a picture of an apple. The Economic Times (India) (1/24)

Ohio district uses technology to remove learning barriers
Some educators in a school district in Ohio praise technologies, such as laptops and tablets, for helping to eliminate learning barriers and increase motivation for students with disabilities. “Any time you can see the kids be more independent and more involved with their peers, you know (the technology) is doing its job,” said Rita Woeste, the district’s technology-integration specialist who taught special education for 29 years. The Advocate (Newark, Ohio) (tiered subscription model) (1/26)

Disability Update——————

Panel recommends ways to improve voting experience
A bipartisan commission urged election officials to give more attention to people with disabilities, expand online registration and allow more early voting to help solve problems of long lines and other difficulties that were seen during the 2012 election. The panel said polling places should have checklists to ensure accessibility and poll workers should be trained on how to help voters with special needs. Disability Scoop (1/24)

Transitions——————

Students learn academic, social skills in greeting-card business
Teachers at a high school in Kansas are using a greeting-card business to teach students with disabilities academic and social skills. While making the cards, students follow verbal and written directions, read work orders, handle money and learn to work as a team, special-education teacher Matt DeMoss said. “My goal while they were in high school, just like any other teacher, was to get them ready for that post-secondary career,” he said. The Joplin Globe (Mo.) (1/23)

N.Y. district transitions to career-focused diploma option
Students with disabilities in the Lansing Central School District in New York who do not earn a traditional high-school diploma now have the option to earn career development and occupational skills credentials. The new path takes the place of the “IEP diploma,” which was available to some students with disabilities in the district until last July. “We’re now focusing more on students leaving our schools work-ready,” Kathy Rourke, director of special education, said. Ithaca Times (N.Y.) (1/25)

UCP News——————-

National call on disabilities treaty, Tuesday
Tuesday, Jan. 28, at 1 p.m. EST, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Community Leadership team will hold a call to develop a national strategy to allow for continued negotiations on the disability treaty. The CRPD was inspired by U.S. leadership in recognizing the rights of people with disabilities, and would provide a vital framework for creating legislation and policies around the world that embrace the rights and dignity of all people with disabilities. RSVP for the call and contact your senators by visiting www.disabilitytreaty.org.

Register now to attend the 2014 Disability Policy Seminar
Early registration is now open for this year’s Disability Policy Seminar in Washington, D.C., April 7 to 9. This event is the biggest and best opportunity for advocates to advance the grassroots movement for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and is hosted by UCP, The Arc, AUCD, AAIDD, NACDD and SABE. Register now and book your room at the Grand Hyatt in downtown Washington D.C. for a special early registration rate by visiting www.disabilitypolicyseminar.org. But act soon — the special room rates end March 4.

Ending on a “high-quote”:

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”
— C.S. Lewis
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UCP-OC Names Deborah Levy as President & CEO

ImageThe Board of Directors of United Cerebral Palsy of Orange County (UCP-OC) has announced the appointment of Deborah Levy as its President and Chief Executive Officer.  Levy has more than two decades of experience advancing children’s non-profits throughout the country.  Levy currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer for the Orange County Ronald McDonald House® and a senior member of the executive management team of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southern California, the largest Ronald McDonald House Chapter in the United States.  She will begin her new position at UCP-OC on February 17th.

“The Search Committee unanimously recommended Levy as the new CEO. Levy is a proven leader with a record of success in managing charitable enterprises. She has the right combination of vision, skill, and leadership. Most importantly, her love for children and helping children with disabilities makes her the ideal leader for UCP-OC. We are fortunate to have her as our new CEO, and we’re excited to see the organization grow under her leadership,” said James Corbett, Board Chair of UCP-OC.

Deborah Levy is widely recognized within Ronald McDonald House Charities® for defining the standard for program excellence.  Under her leadership, the Orange County region is fiscally and programmatically strong.  She has a proven ability to produce mission-driven success year after year with strategic vision, Board collaboration, and dynamic leadership of staff and volunteers. With a career that started as a news anchor for various CBS television affiliates across the country, Levy brings twenty-three years’ experience as a professional public speaker, enhancing local and regional organizational brands and images.  Additionally, Levy has helped raise tens of millions of dollars for various children’s charities in North America.  A children’s champion, Levy first served as a volunteer and member of the Board of Directors for Ronald McDonald House Charities® chapters in Florida and Nevada from 1997 to 2003.  Levy holds a B.S. degree in Political Science from UCLA.

“Helping children has been a personal mission for me my entire adult life.  I am profoundly moved by the important work being done at UCP-OC.  It is a testament to the extraordinary leadership of the staff and Board.  I am honored to be asked to become the next leader and look forward to building upon UCP-OC’s success as we look toward the future,” said Deborah Levy.

Child of the Month: January 2014

January 2014: Kolby

“Gotta say hello to the ladies!”

UCP-OC Physical_and_Occupational_Therapies
Kolby and his mother, Danielle.

Kolby is a 6 year-old charmer who already knows the value of making the rounds to say hello to the ladies.  If his charisma and drawing personality doesn’t get you, his smile will. Kolby’s infectious grin will turn any day around! Three years ago Kolby entered UCP-OC’s doors suffering from very tight muscles that make it difficult to do even the simplest movements we take for granted.

Kolby has a genetic disorder known as chondrodysplasia punctata x-linked recessive. One of the symptoms of this disorder is cervical stenosis of the spine (narrowing of the spinal canal).  In fact it was so narrow that it was compressing his spinal cord 60% at the C-1 vertebrae level. He was able to have surgery to correct the compression, however the damage done is what he has to battle every day.

As a part of his “battle team” are UCP-OC Therapists, Lisa Kerfoot (PT), Frances (OT) and Cori (PT).  When first coming to UCP-OC Kolby was not able to use a walker to get around but had to rely on someone else to move.  At UCP-OC, therapy is play based and his PT and OT appointments include having him walk around the office in his walker greeting everyone, activities that make him reach  and stretch his arms and torso such as playing with cars, games and activities that work on his balance and encouraging him to walk on his own. Since coming to therapy he uses his walker everywhere and he just took his monumental first steps without his walker!

Kolby and Physical Therapist Cori.
Kolby and Physical Therapist Cori.

Kolby’s mother, Danielle, says that she is “constantly encouraged by the other families in the lobby and has found comfort in hearing other families’ journeys. Kolby loves coming to UCP-OC and looks forward to his play time with his therapists.”

UCP-OC intrigued Danielle not only for the superior Therapy, but also for the variety of services UCP-OC provides the community. Specifically speaking, she was very interested in UCP-OC’s recreational classes after school. These classes encourage fitness and explore a child or teen’s creativity through painting and drawing. It also gives them an avenue for important social opportunities that are not commonly offered for children with disabilities. This past fall Kolby participated in soccer through the VIP program in AYSO and he was able to score goals and earn his first trophy!

If you would like to make a gift to support the services that are helping Kolby and his family, please click here or contact Elizabeth Eckman at eeckman@ucp-oc.org  for more information.