Members of Innovative’s Leadership Team volunteered on Sept. 17th to complete the post-construction cleaning at Open House Ministries’ new Tod and Maxine McClaskey Family Resource Center building in downtown Vancouver. Way to go team!
Congratulations to Innovative’s graduating preschool class of 2018! A huge “Thank You” goes out to Rosemary and Dean Rasmussen for donating the new backpacks and to Dora and Mike Crisostomo for contributing school supplies to help the 48 graduates start kindergarten off on the right foot! Thank you also to Karen and Rick St. Cyr for providing the BBQ and to Frito Lay for the chips, courtesy of John Carroll. We’re grateful to our wonderful board members and staff who volunteered to help make this graduation a big success!
Ava was diagnosed with hypermobility in her joints, along with joint laxity and knee valgus, hip internal rotation, and trunk weakness which made her unable to stabilize her body and caused her to lose her balance. She began coming to Innovative’s Physical Therapy program weekly, working with her Physical Therapist, Jessica, and PT Assistant, Steven. Jessica said, “We educated Ava and her family about the specific exercises that she could do at home to progress her posture, strength, body alignment, and to help her with her balance.” Through Innovative Services NW’s Orthotics Clinic, a partnership with a local orthotist, Ava was provided with orthotics which aligned her legs and allowed her muscles to be used more efficiently.
One year later, Ava is enjoying just being a kid. She’s completed one year of physical therapy, and has recently taken up horseback riding. Her mom says that “she’s growing very, very fast. There’s just the peace of mind in knowing that she can run like a kid without hurting herself.”
“She’s a very bright and motivated girl,” Jessica shared. “The confidence and strength that Ava has built allows her the freedom to engage in whichever physical activities her heart desires.”
In education and in therapy, they often say “Play is a child’s work”. It’s a way for kids to learn new skills, process fears, and learn social roles. Learning how to play teaches children how to interact with the world around them.
Gabriel was two years old when his mother, Maria, was worried that he rarely spoke. “His older sister is developmentally delayed. She doesn’t speak often so we thought maybe he wasn’t hearing enough or picking up enough, like other kids with siblings,” she shared. His pediatrician recommended that he participate in Early Intervention (EI) through Innovative Services NW, which would provide Gabriel the opportunity to work with a therapist and an educator in their family’s home. Gabriel’s older sister was in therapy at Innovative several years ago. “I was happy to know that we were going back because I knew it was a great program. They really helped my daughter,” Maria said.
Gabriel has been receiving Early Intervention services since April. He has been working with EI Specialist, Jennifer Stepken, and Occupational Therapy Assistant, Melodie Sherer. Both Jennifer and Melodie have been working with Gabriel and his family on strategies to expand his play and communication skills. Additionally, Melodie has been focusing on adaptive skills, such as dressing and learning how to feed himself with utensils. She also provides sensory supports to help Gabriel organize his body so he can play and interact with his family in meaningful, purposeful ways. To make learning fun and engaging, they focus their sessions around play activities like blowing bubbles, racing, climbing, and playing games.
“The first time I saw Gabriel, he had poor self-regulation,” Melodie said. “He had a hard time playing and interacting with me, and his family, because he was busy climbing on the furniture, bumping into his mom, and running about to help him meet his sensory needs.” Melodie felt that it was important to help Gabriel focus his energy and include more purposeful play in his routine. “I gave his family some suggestions of exercises they could do to help him regulate his body, and each time I see him, he’s more focused.”
Some of his other goals include learning to take turns, making eye contact, feeding himself, drinking out of a cup, following adult-lead activities, and problem solving; all skills that he’ll need when he enters preschool next year. He’s already shown outstanding progress in his language abilities just in the last few weeks, uttering two and three word phrases as he and Melodie play together. After only four visits, and the dedication of his family to continue practicing with him between appointments, Gabriel was able to play with his mom for twenty minutes as they had a tea party to learn how to drink from a cup. “He had never had that much sustained joint attention,” Melodie said. “His parents have great follow-through. They are so willing to do the exercises and activities we suggest.”
Maria is grateful for the support of Gabriel’s EI team. “As he grows up I would love for him to try his hardest and be dedicated in whatever he’s doing,” she shared. “I just want for him to play, to be a little bit more coordinated, and to have fun.”
Launda Carroll, CEO Emeritus, has been with Innovative Services NW for thirty-three years, most of those as Executive Director of the organization’s children and family programs. She was President and CEO from July 1, 2008 through December 31, 2017. She has extensive knowledge of and experience in the fields of disabilities, family systems, and program development. She also has a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education, a Master’s Degree in Counseling and is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in the state of Washington.
When Launda was hired in 1984, Innovative served 85 children and adults through two programs: Early Intervention for Infants and Toddlers and a sheltered workshop for adults with disabilities. During her tenure, Launda has been instrumental in expanding programs and services, as well as the populations we serve; Innovative moved into a facility specially built for its needs and went from five separate agencies to one organization; an organization with over 170 employees, currently offering programs serving not only individuals with special needs through Pediatric Therapy and Employment Services, but also young children, age 1-5 years, of all abilities through Early Learning, youth through Supervised Visitation, and the community through Janitorial Services.
Launda has represented the organization in both appointed and volunteer positions on a variety of community, regional, and state committees involving early learning, early intervention, disabilities, special education, supported employment, prevention of child abuse and neglect, as well as other issues that affect the quality of life for children, adults and families in our community. We are so appreciative of her many years of service and dedication to our mission. She will be greatly missed!
Innovative has recently hired our new Board Certified Behavior Analyst, Lori Moorehead, in support of the Positive Behavior Support in Early Childhood Project. She is currently working in Early Learning with our most behaviorally challenged children and will be training our teaching staff in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) supportive techniques. Once her credentialling is complete, she’ll begin offering ABA therapy for children in our therapy program, particularly for those on the autism spectrum.
Valentin joined Innovative’s Early Learning program just one year ago, after being expelled from two daycare centers due to behavior concerns and his tendency to be aggressive toward other children. Valentin’s mother, Mariana, enrolled him in Innovative’s Early Learning program hoping that Innovative might give her son another chance.
Whisper, Valentin’s teacher, and Judy, Family Support Specialist, gave Mariana resources to help with her son’s behavior, which they determined was likely caused by trauma in their family.“We worked with Mariana really closely to get down to the root of it,” Whisper said. Valentin would sometimes have up to ten incident reports per day. Valentin inspired Whisper to implement the Kindness Curriculum in her classroom, knowing that it might help him understand and regulate his own behavior. The program is designed to teach children about empathy and how to manage their own emotions. It helps children build character and then gives them the skills they need to help them grow into happy, caring, and productive adults. She saw a huge improvement in his behavior and attitude after just a few weeks of the curriculum, noting that he was better able to communicate his emotions, rather than acting out.
Innovative’s Board Certified Behavior Analyst, Lori Moorehead, has been working with Valentin and his family to identify what might be causing his impulse control concerns. She’s working to assess and document his tendencies as he prepares to graduate to kindergarten. Innovative’s staff wants to ensure that his behavior concerns don’t limit where he can attend school next year. “We want to be sure that he and his family have all the supports in place for his best outcome,” Lori shared.
Our Early Learning program has a non-expulsion policy, which means children like Valentin and their families get the support they need to help their child be successful in school. “The teachers just know him so well,” Judy said. “It’s much easier to redirect his behavior than it used to be. He’s genuinely happy now.” Mariana couldn’t be more grateful for the support and patience of the Early Learning staff, noting the improvement she’s seen in her son’s behavior, just in the last year.
We’re pleased to announce that the Giving Gala event held on April 27, 2018 at the Heathman Lodge, Vancouver raised $99,656 and netted $75,938 after event expenses and salaries! These proceeds will go directly to support Innovative’s programs that serve children, adults, and families in our community who have disabilities or other challenges.
Rod Hill, KGW Meteorologist, was the M.C. for the evening and Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle led the paddle raise. Guests who attended the Giving Gala event enjoyed an elegant plated dinner, games and activities, and an inspiring program featuring stories of individuals who have received services from Innovative. Throughout the night, they celebrated 55 years of service in Clark County and 10 years in the Mary Firstenburg Family Center with CEO Emeritus, Launda Carroll, as guest of honor.
We’re grateful to everyone who attended the event, contributed generously, and supported the event through sponsorship, including Presenting Sponsor: Pacific Lifestyle Homes, Hosting Sponsor: RSV Building Solutions, Co-Sponsor: The Vancouver Clinic, Community Partner: The Heathman Lodge, Media Partner, Vancouver Business Journal, and Supporting Sponsors: Columbia Credit Union, Christenson Electric, JD Fulwiler & Co. Insurance, Pacific Office Automation, Subaru, Sustainable Wealth Management, and Umpqua Bank. Special thanks to Innovative’s Development Functional Board for planning, coordinating and executing this great event.
Friends of EOCF (Educational Opportunities for Children and Families) honored Innovative’s own Lynn Madden with the 2018 Early Learning Staff Person Award for her demonstrated dedication, knowledge, care, professionalism, and passion for children and families! She was presented this award at their Early Learning Champions Awards Luncheon on May 9th. Lynn has worked at Innovative Services NW as a preschool teacher for the last eighteen years. Lynn was awarded a position in the Community Fellows Network which engages teacher leaders in English Language Arts, Mathematics, Science and Early Learning. Lynn pilots what she learns in her own classroom and then mentors other teachers. Her true passion is to prepare students for and transition to kindergarten.
Click here to learn more about Innovative’s Early Learning & Child Care program.
Six (count them, six!) participants in our Employment Services program secured new positions last month with the support of Innovative’s Job Coaches & Job Developers!
(Listed left to right, top to bottom)
Brent – KFC
Cevin – City of Vancouver Operations Center
Joseph – Joe’s Crab Shack
Nate – Hyatt Place Portland Airport/Cascade Station
Melody – Wal-Mart
Buri – Naydenov Gymnastics (not pictured)
Congratulations on your new positions!
Innovative’s Employment Services program has been a leader in employment services in Clark County, Washington for over 40 years. Our dedicated staff of Job Developers and Coaches assist individuals in overcoming disability-related employment barriers to realize their full potential as productive members of the community. Click here to learn more.