Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Sinergia Participates in Autism Awareness Month

  Did you know?

An average of 1 in 110 children in the United States have an Autism Spectrum Disorder

April is Autism Awareness Month, a cause that Sinergia strongly believes in and is continuously looking for ways to support. Our Autism Initiative program recently applied for a $5,000 Irvin Stern Foundation grant. The foundation was looking for innovative ideas to fund and our idea was  approved. Through the grant we will be able to buy three laptops for teens with Asperger's Syndrome to teach some mothers who are not computer proficient. Additionally, the youth will have opportunities for social interaction and at the same time some parents will learn about computers and the internet. We are very pleased to provide an opportunity for the teens to contribute to the technology learning of mothers.

We are offering the following autism-related events in April:

April 8th: Breakfast for Spanish Speaking families
April 14th: Implementing Dairy Free Diet for Kids
April 29th: The Role of Art in Autism

Additional Autism resources:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Libraries and Autism
New York's Initiative for Adults and Children on the Autism Spectrum
OPWDD Autism Calendar of Events
Autism Society
Autism Speaks

The UN also has a new section on their website with resources and UN autism events in April held at their headquarters in New York.

Autism World Views 2011: Help shine the light on global autism by participating in this 10 minute survey.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Success Story: Kenny Berg

When one first sees Kenny Berg interacting with his mother and father it is easy to see how strong the bond between them is. Kenny glows when he is around his parents and the look of love and caring that emanates from them is almost a physical force you can touch. These strong feelings are obvious even though the 36 year old has severe developmental disabilities, including intensive sight and hearing deficits. Despite his limitations, Kenny has an amazing ability to know exactly who is in his immediate proximity. His parents believe that he can use his sense of smell to identify people and that he has an uncanny ability to determine whether or not he will connect with someone based upon their “vibe.” Kenny’s ability to sense his surroundings without the use of sight or hearing has come in handy as he goes about his chores at the Queens County Farm. Kenny has been working at this unique facility for a number of years now, and has become an expert at collecting and sorting fresh eggs from the farm’s chickens. His colleagues state that the chickens, which can be ornery when disturbed from their egg-sitting, rarely raise a fuss as Kenny gently and quietly collects their eggs and places them in a basket to be sorted and sold in the farm’s store.

Kenny, who currently lives with his parents, is getting older now and his parents are anxiously working with Sinergia and the New York State Office of People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) to find a permanent residential placement for him. Kenny’s parents understand that he will need to establish a place to live outside of their home and despite the heartbreak that this separation may cause for all in the short-term, it is the long-term solution that occupies the thoughts of Kenny’s family. As developments occur, we will keep you all abreast of Kenny’s search for a home he can call his own.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Day Hab Celebrates Women's History Month

To celebrate Women’s History Month, Sinergia's Day Hab Artists created a timeline of women through the ages that was installed along the hallway on the 3rd floor.  It started with the year 1840, when women were denied the right to participate at an anti-slavery convention in England, and continued all the way to the present with a summary of this year’s White House report, “Women in America.”  The report found that while more women than men are getting college degrees, they still make only 75% of what their male counterparts earn. 

Each Day Hab participant had the opportunity to go on a guided tour of the timeline and discuss various key events.  Hot topics of discussion were the fight for women’s suffrage, which was finally granted in 1920 with the 19th Amendment, and the struggle for women to be respected in their various fields, like Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman to graduate from an American medical school with a physician’s license.  (She also opened the first medical college for women!)  The Art Appreciation group also had the chance to take a virtual tour of Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party, a tribute to various influential women, both real and mythical, throughout world history.  The Dinner Party is a permanent installation at the Brooklyn Museum.  Learn more about the exhibit at www.brooklynmuseum.org.

Health Effects of Consuming Too Much Sugar

Did you know that Mountain Dew soda contains the equivalent of 17 packets of sugar? And a small can of Red Bull, seven. That's what Sinergia staff and Day Hab participants found out during a seminar held March 28th, 2011 entitled "Health Effects of Consuming Too Much Sugar". The training was brought to Sinergia by the Union Settlement in partnership with the New York City Department of Health and The Public Health Outreach, as a part of their “Take Care New York” campaign to raise awareness about sugar consumption. The presenter, Kathleen Cain, a public health outreach coordinator for Union Settlement, talked about the frighteningly high consumption of sugar in all it’s forms, its lack of nutritional value, and the availability of healthy alternatives. She suggested that when shopping for fruit juice, people should read labels and choose those that are 100% fruit juice and then dilute them with water, because they still contain a significant amount of natural sugars. She promoted a petition to encourage local stores to move healthy beverages and foods to the front of their stores to help the communities choose better. "The forty plus participants that were present answered questions about their daily diets and were astounded to find so many items that were not so beneficial to their health, says Day Hab specialist Rob Maldonado. "Ms. Cain encouraged all of us to drink lots of water as the ultimate replacement for soft drinks."

This insightful workshop will be held again on April 13th for the Up-Living Program participants.