Monday, October 29, 2012

Special Anti-Bullying Art Exhibit

These are some of the pieces that the participants of the Day Habilitation program created for Sinergia's 2nd Annual Unity Day on Bullying Prevention, held October 10th. They are colorful, expressive and truly special. The artists each received a Certificate of Achievement from their teacher, artist and educational art consultant Ana Soto. You can see more of the day's activities on our Facebook album.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Sinergia's 2nd Annual Unity Day for Bullying Prevention

October is National Bullying Prevention Month, an observance that was started by PACER, the National Parent Training and Information Center. Sinergia will mark this occasion by holding its 2nd annual Anti-Bullying event to show support for students who have been bullied. We will distribute orange t-shirts for children and hold special activities, including a parent forum, a presentation by the New York Police Department and a Anti-Bullying Poster exhibit.

The theme and purpose of this event is to raise awareness of the importance of bullying prevention. Bullying is a serious problem nationwide that takes a terrible toll on students and their families. The problem is particularly serious for students with disabilities. We hope you can join us.

Our Unity Day for Bullying Prevention will take place on Wednesday October 10th from 3 - 5 PM at 2082 Lexington Avenue, 4th Floor conference room. For more information click here or call 212.643.2840.           (photo)

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Kenny's Quilt

Kenny, Jake and Clara Berg are a family Sinergia has worked with to open a supervised, live-in residence for their son (we first introduced them to you in this April 2011 blog post). They attended the Art of Social Change workshop in Savannah, Georgia organized by Beth Mount, Tom Kohler, Connie and John O'Brien, Jack Pierpoint and Linda Kahn, among others who advocate very strongly for integrated communities.

Participants from many different states attended the opening of the story quilts made by Beth at the Jepson Center (Telfair Museum), and among them was a quilt she made for Kenny telling the story of his work at the farm and his new domicile. Many other activities such as art display, photographs and open farm market took place over the weekend, sharing with all of us the relationship between advocates and their proteges. 

Sinergia Hosts Forum For Multi-Cultural Agencies

Sinergia is very pleased to host a Forum For Multi-Cultural Agencies prepared and arranged by the New York Association of Emerging and Minority Providers.

The forum aims to highlight the essential and critical role that multicultural agencies have made and are making every day in the lives of the families and individuals with developmental disabilities that we serve.  The OPWDD Commissioner Courtney Burke will meet parents from member agencies who will make a personal presentation on "how culturally and linguistically competent agencies have enhanced their families lives and the individual with a developmental disability."

The forum will take place on Thursday, October 25, 2012 from 1:30-3 pm at Sinergia, Inc. located at 2082 Lexington Ave.  The Commissioner will hear the stories first hand from the families and individuals. For more information, please click here.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Direct Support Professional Recognition Week

The week of October 20 – 15, 2012 was designated by the New York Staff Office of Persons with Developmental Disabilities (NYSOPWDD) as Direct Support Professional Recognition Week.  During this week agencies that provide services to people with disabilities took special time to honor those employees who work directly with these individuals.  The hours that these staff work are long and include weekends, evenings and holidays and the compensation is low, however, the responsibilities are wide-ranging and can make the difference to the successful integration of a vulnerable  population  into the life of a community.

As part of the week’s recognition Sinergia was delighted to acknowledge the work of our direct care staff and recognize the honorees at a breakfast on September 19, 2012 at our main offices.  Sinergia’s has some wonderful, dedicated direct care staff throughout several departments. The Residential, Day Habilitation and Community Habilitation programs had the difficult job of narrowing the selections down to just one employee from each department. The  honorees selected are: Gwen Baez, (13 years of service) Thainesse Caro, (4 years of service) from the Day Habilitation program; Oristela Birmudez (6 years of service) from the Community Habilitation program.  We profoundly extend our appreciation to the honorees and the entire direct care staff. We sincerely recognize the contributions they make on a daily basis to the quality of life of the persons they serve.

Photo: The Sinergia Executive staff, Michael Mitchell (Deputy Exec.), Myrta Cuadra-Lash, (Executive Director) and Dr. Bernice Moro (Associate Director) pose with Direct Support Professional of the Year honorees, Thainesse Caro (Day Habilitation) and Gwendolyn Baez (Residential).  Absent from the event was honoree Oristela Bermudez from the Community Habilitation program).  Once again, Sinergia thanks these fine people for their hard and dedication.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The NYC Department of Education’s Special Education Reform

The NYC Department of Education (DOE) has engaged a far-reaching special education reform effort. The stated goals of this Reform are to “improve access to more challenging academic curricula and to achieve better outcomes for students with disabilities.” This will be carried out by providing significantly more students with disabilities the opportunity to attend the schools they would attend if they did not have Individualized Education Programs (IEPs). 

The Reform is intended to provide more students with disabilities access to their zoned schools and other schools of choice. Most NYC public schools will be expected to meet the needs of the majority of their students with IEPs. During the current school year, parents of students entering: kindergarten, middle school (6th grade), high school (9th grade) and “over-the-counter” students (those new to NYC’s public schools) with special education needs may be asked to consider different service and placement recommendations than in the past. The DOE is asking schools to reexamine students’ IEPs based on the availability of the program or service in the school building and the least restrictive environment. Your child’s school may ask you to reopen your child’s IEP even if you recently agreed to a new IEP at an annual review or this is your child’s first special education placement.

Unless your child has been accepted into a special program, such as Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) Nest or District 75, or requires bilingual services or a barrier-free site, you will not have the option of having your child attend another school that has the program or service on your child’s IEP. Other exceptions may apply to reasons pertaining to health and safety issues. Remember that parental rights in special education result from federal and state law. The Reform is a local policy matter and it does nothing to change your legal rights as a parent. Your child has the right to type of class and services on his/her IEP regardless of whether or not the school currently has them. The DOE is promoting the move of students with IEPs into the general education classroom (with the necessary supports and services.) However, there are questions whether general education teachers have received sufficient training in working with students with special needs.

If you are still having trouble resolving the matter, call 311 and ask to speak with the DOE’s Special Education Call Center. You may also try calling the DOE’s Hotline (718-935-2007) or visiting one of their locations for Special Education Family Office hours. In addition, the DOE has set up Special Education Family Office Hours which will run through September 27, 2012 and a hotline (311) or (718) 935-2007) for parents to help resolve concerns related to the reform.  For details on office hours, click here.

Your child has the right to receive the type of class and services on his/her IEP regardless of whether or not the school currently has them. Your child is still entitled to receive a free, appropriate education in the least restrictive environment, according to the federal law, The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. (Photo)