Join us for the 2018 Edge of Autism Walk and Festival!
Information can be found on our main site here.
2017 was an incredible year for programs with families. Our teen program has seen some success as have our connections with programs and schools in the community. We were able to visit schools like New Story, Donegal High School and Salisbury Elementary school in the last few months of the year to help with our goal of helping kids feel included, respected and to deter bullying and foster a greater understanding about autism.
2018 is shaping up to be no slouch either. We have already started planning out various events including our support meetings, Egg Hunt, the 2018 Edge of Autism Walk & Festival and some special trainings.
As for our support meetings, we do have some small changes over the next few months since our irreplaceable Support Meeting Coordinator, Kira, is going to be welcoming a new wonderful addition to her family. Our next support meeting will be on Monday, Feb. 12th from 6:30-8:30pm in Stager Hall, Franklin and Marshall College. In March, Director of Advocacy, Shelly Koch will be taking the helm at our usual meeting time to discuss IEPs. Questions can be submitted by emailing her at email@example.com. Additionally that month we have a Guardianship and Financial Planning seminar with Orrstown Bank and the law firm of Kling & Deibler, LLP on Saturday, March 17th. Please make sure to follow our calendar of events or our public Facebook events page for updates.
Lastly for now, we did finally get approval for our Edge of Autism Event—Time & Space for Saturday, May 5th, 2018. We are so excited to be having the event in what we hope will be warmer and nicer weather so everyone can enjoy the day. Many preparations are already well under way and we are officially co-hosting the event this year with New Story School (Mountville PA). Our event will again be at Buchanan Park, Lancaster PA and we are certainly looking for ideas, volunteers and sponsors so let us know how you want to be a part of our Family Reunion and biggest day of the year.
We hope to continue to count on your support and participation with the families we serve this year. Check out this awesome slideshow as well of some of our favorite memories from 2017.
A little over a week ago I had the opportunity to hear about a variety of great ideas for our County and ways we can help these ideas thrive and come to fruition at a Crowdfunding event put on by ASSETS, a diverse group of entrepreneurs and business leaders who are helping our county with social change and economic development.
We learned about everything from using a Popcorn Academy and Business to help teach entrepreneur skills to at risk teens who are paired with College mentors (Popped Culture) to a membership-based, flat-fee cleaning business started by a veteran that wants to help people earn a living wage (Sage & Shield) and many more.
Today, I wanted to highlight a specific one that is near and dear to my heart because it directly addresses one of the many issues faced by the families and individuals we serve–that of working in an diverse and inclusive environment while earning a thriving wage. I speak of course of the awesome idea for our community brought forth by Sierra Wood and her dream business Meraki Mocha.
Meraki Mocha exists to empower people with intellectual and developmental disabilities by offering meaningful employment at a thriving wage, while working in an inclusive environment. They partner with local and environmentally sustainable suppliers to provide fresh and affordable products. Their mission is to be a catalyst to inspire other businesses to hire more people with Intellectual Disability.
Sierra is currently pursuing her Masters in Social Work and Masters in Nonprofit Leadership at the University of Pennsylvania with a focus on social enterprises and global affairs. She has many years of experience in the food industry, 5 years experience working with people who have intellectual and developmental disabilities, and has a passion to see Lancaster embrace diversity through inclusivity.
The dream for Meraki Mocha began five years ago. A woman Sierra knows has down syndrome and showed her a $3 paycheck compensating 70 hours of work. This equates to roughly 4 cents/hour. It was frustrating to see someone so capable and talented, who wanted to work, being taken advantage of at her job. Meraki Mocha is a means to address this problem in a very practical way.
The eventual goal for Sierra and Meraki Mocha is to open a cafe here in Lancaster. You can help this incredible team make this dream a reality and thus also show our County that a thriving wage for those with Intellectual Disability is not only possible but worth doing.
Help us share this wonderful and worthwhile idea in our community! Best of luck to Sierra and the team already working with her.
Many families in Lancaster got a chance to enjoy a sensory friendly production of the holiday favorite “The Nutcracker” on Saturday, January 3rd, 2015. For many of them, this experience was the first time their loved one was able to attend a theater performance. Many of the children there had autism and/or other conditions where sights, sounds, and other sensory stimuli might otherwise prohibit the individual from attending a theater performance ordinarily.
The Tommy Foundation President, Sugey Cruz-Everts, recently accepted a post on the Fulton Theatre’s Advisory Committee for at least the next 2 years. With this new role she hopes to be able to highlight the needs of individuals in the community that have sensory challenges and help them enjoy more of these kinds of productions with the eventual hope that they will develop a love of theater and the performing arts. TTF is excited to offer their support to the Fulton and the Committee’s founder, Jennifer Ridgeway, in this manner and looks forward to future productions.
Families that participated in this event received a social story about attending the theater; were able to request specific seating that made their experience better; could come an hour before the performance and feel some of the props, get to meet some of the actors, do crafts and activities that were supplied by Schreiber Pediatrics Rehabilitation Center and much more. Children also received ‘fidgets’ (small toys that they could use in case they had anxiety to shake or play with) and were able to use the sensory room that was set up at the Fulton at any time that it might be necessary if they were overwhelmed.
For more information about future productions please contact the Fulton or contact us.