2016 Inspiration Awards

The Inspiration Award is given to employees that inspire people to do their best every day, remain positive under stressful conditions, serve as a positive role model to others, show eagerness toward the job and displays an upbeat attitude in all they do.

Congratulations to Annmarie Addesa, Molly O’Connor and Kristen Sears for receiving the 2016 Award


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Excerpts from their award nominations:

Annmarie:“Bright, cheerful, upbeat attitude..”   “Laughing and smiling while remaining respectful and professional.”  “consistent and devoted”

Molly:“One way she stays upbeat and helps others is by making sure everyone has some fun!  She keeps an activity binder of brochures with information about things to do in the area.  But travelling is ok with her too.  This past year residents and staff have been to Foxwoods Casino, the zoo, dances, dinners, etc.”

“She is a tireless advocate for the residents and rarely has any staff turnover.  When you arrive at her program it’s clearly obvious right away you are in someone’s home, not a ‘program.’ “

Kristen:“Her exuberance is contagious….”  “As a role model she inspires me and others to do over and above what is required.”

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Working Together for Employment Opportunities

When it comes to identifying and developing career opportunities for individuals with disabilities in our communities, our industry recognizes the need for a group effort. Cooperation among businesses, human service agencies, families, and individuals is the key to providing meaningful and inclusive employment opportunities for people with disabilities. The Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services has called for “a vibrant and large network of employment providers with strong community ties who have effectively and successfully assisted many individuals with intellectual disability to enter the workforce”. For more information about their initiative, be sure to check out their Blueprint for Success report.

There are many benefits for the whole community when disabled employees are supported in the workplace. According to an article by disability staffing company founder Judy Owen in Forbes, employers who hired people with disabilities reported regular attendance and low turnover rates, in addition to improved overall staff morale and increased workplace diversity. Not to mention that providing workplace accommodations are nowhere near as costly as how employers have imagined. The author goes on to describe how employing people with disabilities addresses an important social issue – the fact that government resources are limited and society needs to support people to become as independent as possible.

Recently, the U.S. Department of Labor has pledged to do its part to help provide states with the funds necessary to develop education and training programs for people with disabilities. For more information, check out the recent article from Disability Scoop.

If you are an employer interested in diversifying your work force by hiring individuals with disabilities, be sure to check out the U.S. Department of Labor’s publication Building an Inclusive Workforce for more information. Additionally, Venture’s Supported Employment Program would be happy to work with you. If your business is would like to hire someone from the program, please contact Kevin Hughes at 774-922-1143 or khughes@venturecs.org.

Summer Break Ideas

The end of the school year leaves many parents wondering what their kids will do all summer long. Attend summer camp? Hang with a babysitter? Stay home with Mom or Dad? Whatever it is, most parents want to make sure that their kids are well entertained and build upon everything they learned over the school year – especially children with special needs. Here are some resources to keep your kids busy this summer:

  1. DIY Sensory Activities – water, beans, sand, grass, shaving cream… So many basic household items can be turned into a quick, easy, and inexpensive sensory activity! Check out 10 Summer Fun Sensory DIY Sensory Games for Kids at Autism Speaks. Also be sure to visit Venture’s Sensory Processing board on Pinterest for more information and activities.
  2. Sensory-Friendly Movies – An afternoon at the movies is the perfect antidote for rainy-day boredom. Many movie theater chains are now offering special show times for people on the autism spectrum and with other sensory processing disorders so they can enjoy films in a safe and inclusionary environment. Movie theaters leave the lights on, lower the sound, and bringing in your own snacks is encouraged. Viewers are also invited to move around as much as they’d like. For more information about sensory-friendly viewings at local cinemas, check out Cinemagic and AMC Theatres.
  3. Inclusive Summer Camps – New England boasts many fun summer camps that offer accommodations for children with special needs, including adaptive activities, specially trained staff, and most importantly, an inclusive environment. For more information about programs in the area, visit SPED Child and Teen’s summer camp listing on their web site. Also check out this recent article from Bay State Parent about choosing your child’s summer camp.
  4. Adaptive Recreation – Be sure to check out the Department of Conservation and Recreation’s Universal Access Program, which provides adaptive outdoor recreational opportunities including kayaking, hiking, picnicking, fishing, horseback riding (in partnership with Windrush Farm), and much more.

Adaptive Gardening

Gardening season is in full swing! With the advent of accessible equipment and a greater emphasis on the therapeutic nature of this valuable skill, gardening is becoming more available to people with disabilities. Whether it’s tending to the beauty of a flower garden or the resourcefulness of a vegetable garden, this hobby has remarkable rewards for all. In fact, many Venture residential programs have developed their own vegetable gardens and are enjoying the fresh produce! Our day habilitation programs also offer horticulture as an activity.

Horticultural therapy has been gaining recognition for its positive effects for individuals with mental illness, intellectual disabilities, physical limitations, dementia, brain injury, and more. According to the American Horticultural Therapy Association, this modality can improve cognitive abilities, enhance memory, develop social skills, and advance communication. Physically, gardening can assist with balance, coordination, endurance, and strength. Horticultural therapy is also an excellent source of sensory simulation, especially for those with autism. For more information about local resources, check out the Northeast Horticultural Therapy Network.

Another great local resource for therapeutic and accessible gardening is Tower Hill Botanic Garden located in Boylston, Massachusetts. Venture recently assisted them in an advising capacity as they developed their Garden Within Reach program, which offers an innovative and inclusive design for those of all ability levels and breaks down barriers for those with mobility issues.

For more resources, be sure to follow Venture’s Adaptive Gardening board on Pinterest and check back often for updates!