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MARCH 2017



A Special Needs Adoption Story

A SOURCE OF HOPE AND SUPPORT TO FAMILIES, THE ABILITY CLINIC PROVIDES A NEW LEVEL OF CARE TO CHILDREN AND ADULTS LIVING WITH ALL TYPES OF DISABILITIES. Led by Dr. Charlie Law, the only dually board certified Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Specialist physician in the state of Alabama whose practice includes both pediatric and adult patients, the Ability Clinic provides: Comprehensive evaluations Individualized care  Spasticity Management Orthotic and Prosthetic Evaluation and fitting Pain Management Coordinated Care with other health providers Speech, Occupational and Physical Therapies


FOR AN APPOINTMENT OR MORE INFORMATION, CALL 205­289­5816 100 Oslo Circle Birmingham, AL 35211









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editor’s note

What Means the Most As we were getting ready to go to press with this issue, I had my editor’s note all planned out – it was all about our accomplishments in year 14 of our publication, what a great staff we have, our awards and more. After reading through the final galleys of the issue you now hold in your hands, these things don’t seem like a big deal. All you have to do is read Zee and Jojo’s story on page 32-33 and about their mom – my hero – Jenny Clark. SHE is a big deal. How about the Sensory Friendly Trailblazers in Alabama on page 24? Amazing that they have gone to the efforts to be autism-friendly in a community where it might not be expected, and might cost the businesses more money to do so. Yet they do it, because they care about their community. United Cerebral Palsy changes its name after 70-plus years to United Ability to be even MORE inclusive (see page 20). Look at what Mark Lucas does (pages 22-23) every day to help others, using his God-given talent to do so in a unique way. And let’s not forget the amazing Special Olympics Alabama starting on page 28. All those participants are heroes in my book. Crossing Points (page 30) help students with special needs to become independent. And so much more from legal information to our popular special needs directory. THIS ISSUE is a big deal. I’m thrilled we are a part of another significant contribution to the community, for parents who really need information. I’m thrilled to celebrate another year of publishing, but even more thrilled by the work we continue to do, and that it is meaningful, year after year.

Happy Birthday to us! Carol Muse Evans Publisher/Editor




Alabaster's Rilee Thurber Faces

Dwarfism Head-On





Spotlighting News That Matters To Families


Why It’s So Important


in Huntsville Serves the Special Needs Community

Kayla Perry: Girl on a

The Special Needs Directory


Safety for Those on the


What Every Parent Should Know


Directory PAGE 12

March 2012

Focus @ 4:00 and Pam Huff

Helps Those on the Spectrum Navigate the Skies

Our Fall




A Critical Choice for Parents with Special Needs Children


Special Needs

Publishers David & Carol Evans Editor Carol Muse Evans Associate Editor Lori Chandler Pruitt Office Assistant Bethany Adams Hunley Calendar Lori Chandler Pruitt Contributors Dr. Vivian Friedman, Melanie Bradford, Dr. Corey Hartman, Gayla Grace, Dr. Marie Pittman, Lynn Grisard Fullman, Gerry P. Smith, Charles Ghigna, Paige Townley, Bama Hager, Ph.D.

Account Executives Kayla Fricks, Brittani Ellison, Amy Phillips

MARCH 2015

ABLE ACT Helps Kids with





P.O. Box 326 (add 800 Hwy. 52 E. for pkg) Helena, AL 35080 205-987-7700 205-987-7600 FAX




For Kids with Special Needs

art & production Art Director Hilary Moreno Distribution T&P Deliveries E-blasts Simple Southern Lace Designs Legal Counsel Balch & Bingham LLP


Makes Fishing a Reality

ABOUT THE EDITORS: Carol Muse Evans is the publisher/editor/owner of Birmingham Parent magazine, a publication she and her husband David began in 2004. The Birmingham, Alabamabased parenting publication attracts more than 60,000 readers monthly in a four-county area and receives 10,000 hits per month on its website. The magazine has a 20,000+ print circulation, plus several thousand in readership of the digital edition online. It is the only independently audited free publication in our area. Evans is an award-winning writer and editor who has also has written for several other publications as a freelance writer since the late 80s. She is a graduate of Auburn University in journalism and is a graduate of Scottsboro High School. She is married with two grown children and lives in Alabaster. She is a member of the National Federation of Press Women, Alabama Media Professionals and Southeastern Advertisers and Publishers Association (SAPA). Evans also serves on the board of directors of Childcare Resources. Lori Chandler Pruitt is associate editor of Birmingham Parent, where she is responsible for the calendar and editorial editing. She also is a freelancer for Business Alabama magazine and has written/edited for several other publications. This award-winning writer and editor is a graduate of the University of Alabama in news/editorial and Hueytown High School. She is married with two children. 4 | birminghamparent | march 2017

Webmaster Digital Doo-Wop

BIRMINGHAM PARENT IS A PUBLICATION OF EVANS PUBLISHING, LLC. Publishers: Carol Muse Evans, David K. Evans Sr. Birmingham Parent (EIN20-0694149) is published monthly by Evans Publishing LLC. www.birminghamparent. com or Birmingham Parent is © 2017 by Evans Publishing LLC. Family Connections Media ©2017 by Evans Publishing LLC. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or part without written permission is prohibited. Editorial submissions are welcome. For back issues, please send a self-addressed 10” x 13” envelope with $4 for postage and handling.


U.S. News & World Report

This icon is not the official U.S. News & World Report best hospitals emblem.



Children’s of Alabama is ... l The

third largest pediatric hospital in the United States

l Licensed l The

for 332 beds & 48 NICU bassinets

first LEED-certified hospital building in Alabama

l One

of the Top 20 employers in Alabama with more than 4,700 employees across the state

l The

pediatric teaching hospital for the School of Medicine at UAB

l Home

to the Pediatric & Congenital Heart Center of Alabama, where more than 450 cardiac surgeries are performed annually

l Site

Russell Campus

of the only pediatric kidney dialysis program in the state — one of the largest in the country

1600 7th Avenue South, Birmingham, AL 35233

Benjamin Russell Hospital for Children Lowder Building McWane Building Children’s on Third Outpatient Center Children’s Park Place

Children’s South


1601 5th Avenue South 1600 7th Avenue South 1600 7th Avenue South 1208 3rd Avenue South 1600 5th Avenue South

l Home

to one of the largest burn units in the Southeast

l One

of the largest pediatric rheumatology programs in the nation and the only one in Alabama

1940 Elmer J. Bissell Road, Birmingham, AL 35243 205.638.4800

Outpatient surgery services, Pediatric Imaging Center, laboratory services, specialty care clincis and After Hours care

l Provides

care for more than 90 percent of Alabama children with cancer and blood disorders

Pediatric Practice Solutions Primary Care Locations Alabaster (Greenvale Pediatrics) Bessemer (Pediatrics West) Birmingham (Midtown Pediatrics) Brook Highland (Greenvale Pediatrics) Clay/Chalkville (Pediatrics East-Deerfoot) Homewood (Mayfair Medical Group) Hoover (Greenvale Pediatrics)

McAdory (Pediatrics West) Montgomery (Physicians to Children /Central Alabama Children’s Specialists) Mountain Brook (Over the Mountain Pediatrics) Pell City (Pell City Pediatrics) Trussville (Pediatrics East) Vestavia (Vestavia Pediatrics)

Tickets: (205) 202-8142


APRIL 8th, 2017

Dorothy Jemison Day Theater, Alabama School of Fine Arts | 5 Bham Parent SW17 AD.indd 1

2/15/2017 1:52:22 PM



MARCH 2017



24 20 28 11

Your One-Stop Source for Birmingham’s Kids with Special Needs



A Special Needs Adoption Story

departments Note: 04 Editor’s What Means the Most



Parenting with Dr. Friedman


Healthy Skin is Beyond Beautiful: Cancer Fighting Foods


A Page in a Book: Books that are Worth the Wait


Heart to Heart: Sweethearts Serve the Heart Guild of Birmingham


Ask the Specialist: Eating Healthy on Vacation


March 2017 Calendar of Events


Poetry Party: Garden Poems

A Special Needs Adoption Story: JOJO & ZEE 20 United Ability is Born 25 ABLE Accounts Work Best with Special Needs Trusts 30 Crossing Points Helps Students with Special Needs Cross Over to Independence

22 Music Therapy for Special Needs Kids and Adults

28 Special Olympics Alabama

24 Sensory Friendly Trailblazers in Alabama

ON THE COVER: Zee and Jojo, “twin” brothers of Birmingham, both age 3, of Birmingham, think having an extra chromosome is no big deal. Photo by Kim Brantley Photography,

6 | birminghamparent | march 2017


SUMMER CAMP COUNSELOR: 45 CAMP Could Be the Perfect Summer Job for Your Teen



Parenting with Dr. Friedman


The mothers in our preschool parent group get along with each other. There is however, one mother whom many of the other mothers don’t like. Interestingly, the

children don’t like her child either. Do you have any comments about why this is the case?

Parents who have poor social skills often have children who lack social skills as well. Children who have good social skills tend to be liked by their peers. As early as age two, children can be seen to show empathy towards their playmates. When one toddler cries, another becomes upset too or tries to pat the crying child to soothe him. Children that lack empathy are generally the ones rejected by their peers. Empathy is developed through certain types of parent/child interactions. Parents who can accurately reflect the child’s feelings and who can soothe a child that is upset, help a child to understand his emotions so that he can understand others. Not all children have parents who are good emotional coaches. One common error of emotionally inept parents is to ignore the child›s feelings altogether. These parents act as if any display of emotion is a nuisance to them. They feel that if they just ignore the emotional display, it will go away. Instead of using the child›s upset feelings as an opportunity to get closer to their child, they pull back when the child cries. They fail to teach the child how to become competent at dealing with strong emotion. In a play group, this child might run away or even hit another child that cries. He wants the emotional display to go away. Another parental style that impedes the child›s development of social skills is being too laid back when the child is upset. These parents notice the child’s distress but give the message that however the child handles the situation is fine with them. Even when the child is out of control, they rarely step in to show an alternative way to deal with feelings. When this child gets to preschool, he lacks the skill to choose a good option when he is stressed by conflict or feelings. The third style that falls short in emotional instruction is the authoritarian parent. This parent shows no respect for how the child feels and deems his feelings to be unimportant. If the child tries to state his own point of view or his side of the story, the parent says, «Don›t you talk back to me.” When adolescents encounter this type of parental response, they feel unfairly treated and tend to turn away from parents and towards the peer group.

The parent who can model how to handle emotions tends to produce a child that is liked by his peers. These parents help their child to understand the underlying feelings and make positive suggestions for behavior that will resolve the problem. A question like, «Are you angry because Joey hurt your feelings?» helps the child to understand his anger and to resolve it. Most parents do this “emotional coaching” effortlessly and most children learn it with seeming ease. There are a few children however, often children of parents short on social skills themselves, who need direct instruction. When you see the less popular child in social hot water, you might want to step in and be a surrogate emotional coach. You might even find subtle and unobtrusive ways to do this with the parent.

Vivian K. Friedman Ph. D. is a child and family psychologist at UAB, Department of Psychiatry. Send questions for response in this column to No personal replies are sent.

2017 SUMMER PROGRAMS Stimulating and engaging Summer Programs in Creative Writing, Music, Theatre Arts, Visual Arts, STEM and Computer Game Programming. See our website for program descriptions, dates, times, fees and online registration at

ALABAMA SCHOOL OF FINE ARTS 1800 Reverend Abraham Woods, Jr. Boulevard

Birmingham, AL 35203 205.252.9241 | 7

healthy skin is beyond beautiful sponsored by

Cancer Fighting Foods: What to Eat to Protect Your Skin By Dr. Corey Hartman

Have you ever wondered exactly how and why skin cancer begins? Well, when the sun instigates the formation of free radicals in the skin, it can set off a series of reactions in our cells that cause their development to go array. As these abnormal cells accumulate in the skin, cancer sets in. We know that while protecting yourself from the sun can prevent the formation of free radicals, your diet can make an impact as well. As skilled specialists, we recommend you add the following foods to your regular mealtimes and snacks as a proactive measure to help keep UV-damage at bay.

Green Tea. While I was a resident at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, our department conducted research on the polyphenols in green tea and found that they protect our skin from the damage done by UV rays, reducing the changes made to our DNA by free radicals. There is also evidence that green tea can inhibit the multiplying of melanoma cells throughout the body. Vitamins C & E. Studies have shown that antioxidants obtained through Vitamin C and Vitamin E offer protection from skin cancer by interacting with free radicals and neutralizing them. We recommend carrots, bell peppers, citrus fruits, tomatoes, bell peppers, dark leafy greens, broccoli, berries, sunflower seeds, almonds, spinach and avocado.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids. In addition to boosting your immunity to sun damage, Omega-3s also slow the buildup of plaque inside blood vessels and curb joint pain from arthritis. We advise our patients to obtain these goods fats by eating salmon, trout, edamame, walnuts or an omega-3 fish oil supplement. Organic, non-modified foods. Limit how much processed meat you eat and choose whole grains instead of refined grains. Focus on fruits and vegetables that were grown without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers or genetically modified organisms. Our research has shown that pesticides and trans fatty acids stimulate changes in the body that allow for the development of many different kinds of cancer.

Skin Wellness Center of Alabama will be providing great dermatologic info each month for Birmingham Parent. Send your questions to No personal replies will be sent.



our babybook






CPR for Babies The Mommy & Me Directory

For appointments, call 205.871.7332 or visit us at

Dental Care During Pregnancy Child Abuse Prevention Destination Guide April Great Calendar of Events

HOMEWOOD 1920 Huntington Road, Homewood, AL 35209 CHELSEA 398 Chesser Drive, Suite 6, Chelsea, AL 35043

8 | birminghamparent | march 2017 SWC_BhamParent_1/4pg_ad.indd 1

2/13/17 10:23 AM



7 Great information for parents and caregivers of children with special needs, from the cognitive to physically challenged, meeting with providers of special products and services, speakers to educate

Saturday, March 4, 2017

activities, sports, education, camps


zone, too, for children to enjoy.

and inform, as well as after school & more! All under one roof! Fun

GRIFFIN MOBILITY COVER KIDS SEARCH photos with Visual Arts By Jessica Photography. Come and have your child's photo made for a chance at a Birmingham Parent cover!





John Holliman and Melanie Bradford provide over 39 years of experience in assisting clients with estate planning, special needs trust planning, asset protection, tax planning, trusts, long term care planning, VA and Medicaid eligibility and

24/7 365 DAYS A YEAR

appeals, probate matters and more. Plan ahead to protect what you have!

Estate Planning, Elder Law & Special Needs

205.663.0281 2491 Pelham Pkwy, Pelham, AL 35124 10 | birminghamparent | march 2017

Exhibitors receive a showcase directory on our website with other organizations and businesses that specialize in services for families with special needs children of all ages. Great information for parents and caregivers of children with special needs, from the cognitive to physically challenged. Virtual Booths and Sponsorships still available. Contact us at 205-987-7700 or

Great products and services, after school activities, sports, education, camps and more for the special needs community!

DIRECTORY SPRING 2017 Your One-Stop Source for Birmingham’s Kids with Special Needs Following is an abbreviated list of resources and services, both local and national, made available to Alabama residents who have children with special needs. There are a number of services offered throughout the state for parents with children with disabilities, from inclusive school care programs to music and sports teams and classes. If you know of an organization or service that should be included in the next special needs directory online and in the September 2017 special needs issue, please e-mail editor@ or fax to 205-987-7600 for updating in the next directory.



ADY’S ARMY We empower people with disABILITIES to fully participate in the community.

404-957-0090 Serving God by serving special needs families. ALABAMA ASSOCIATION FOR PARENTS OF CHILDREN WITH VISUAL IMPAIRMENTS 205-422-5826 Provides educational, social and recreational opportunities for families with children who are blind or have low vision, including children with multiple disabilities. ALABAMA COUNCIL FOR DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES 334-242-3973 or 800-232-2158 Provides educational resources for individuals with special needs and their families.   ALABAMA DISABILITIES ADVOCACY PROGRAM (ADAP) 205-348-4928 Provides free legal services for disabled individuals who qualify. *AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION 205-510-1500 SEE OUR AD ON PAGE 38.   *AUTISM SOCIETY OF ALABAMA 877-428-8476 or 205-951-1364 The Autism Society of Alabama is a nonprofit advocacy group with the mission of improving services for those on the Autism Spectrum. SEE OUR AD ON PAGE 29. BIRMINGHAM COLLAT JEWISH FAMILY SERVICES 205-879-3438 Confidential counseling and social service support for individuals and families experiencing challenges in coping with some aspect or situation in their life.


PARENT CONNECTION NETWORK OF ALABAMA 800-441-7607 or 334-293-7500 A statewide network of families who have children with special health care needs or disabilities and who are willing to share their experiences with other families. UNITED WAY OF CENTRAL ALABAMA

Information and Referral Center 205-251-5131 A community resource directory of services in Shelby, Jefferson, Walker, Blount and St. Clair counties.


CHILDCARE RESOURCES, BIRMINGHAM 205-945-0018 or 800-822-2734 Assists parents with children with special needs in locating childcare and information. *UNITED ABILITY - HAND IN HAND EARLY LEARNING PROGRAM 205-944-3939 A learning program for children 6 weeks through age 4 for children with and without disabilities to maximize each child’s intellectual, physical and emotional health. SEE OUR AD ON PAGE 2.


ALABAMA PARENT EDUCATION CENTER 334-567-2252 A nonprofit 501c3 dedicated to improving parental involvement and engagement. APEC provides training, information, support to improve the quality of parental involvement in AL families, schools and communities. COMMUNITY OUTREACH SPECIAL EDUCATION PTA The Community Outreach Special Education Parent Teacher Association is a member of the Birmingham Council of PTAs. DOWN SYNDROME ALABAMA

205-988-0810 Promotes awareness, acceptable and advocacy for individuals with Down syndrome of all ages, their families, educators, health professionals, service providers and community. EPILEPSY FOUNDATION OF ALABAMA 251-341-0170 Provides FREE support services to persons with epilepsy and their families. FAMILY VOICES OF ALABAMA 877-771-3862 The state affiliate of Family Voices, a national grassroots network of families, friends and professional partners who care about children and youth with special health care needs. THE HORIZONS SCHOOL 800-822-6242 The Horizons School is a post-secondary program that teaches independent living, social and career skills to young adults, ages 18-26, with learning disabilities.


205-870-4181 Lindamood-Bell offers intensive, research-validated instruction that is Advanc-ED accredited. We believe all children and adults can be taught to read and comprehend to their potential. SEE OUR AD ON PAGE 27. PAL – ALABAMA’S PARENTING ASSISTANCE LINE 866-962-3030 Provides helpful assistance to moms, dads, grandparents, and relatives whose children are age birth through adolescence. SOUTHEASTERN DIABETES EDUCATION SERVICES 205-402-0415 SPRING VALLEY SCHOOL 205-423-8660 Spring Valley School’s mission is educating students with learning differences, such as dyslexia and ADHD. Serving students from all areas of Jefferson and Shelby counties. *UPPER LIMIT LEARNING CENTER 205-783-5103 Enriching learning, shaping futures. We tutor K-12 students, provide homework help, conduct ACT/SAT prep session, fill in learning gaps and much more. SEE OUR AD ON PAGE 23. VSA ARTS OF ALABAMA 205-307-6300 ext. 3 A statewide, nonprofit organization dedicated to providing opportunities in the arts for people with chronic illnesses and disabilities.  

FINANCIAL/INSURANCE/ LEGAL *ALABAMA FAMILY TRUST 205-313-3915 A nonprofit special needs trust that holds and administers money for the disabled so they are able to become eligible and maintain | 11

DIRECTORY SPRING 2017 government benefits for which they would otherwise be financially ineligible. SEE OUR AD ON PAGE 27. ALLKIDS 888-373-5437 Provides insurance for eligible children younger than 19. * BRADFORD & HOLLIMAN, LLC 205-663-0281 Estate and long-term care planning for young families, blended families, the disabled, empty nesters & the elderly. SEE OUR AD ON 10. EASTER SEALS MEDICAL ASSISTANCE GRANT 205-942-6277 Assists in paying for medical requirements of children and adults who have disabilities, and those unable to provide for their own needs. SEE OUR AD ON

PAGE 18. MEDICAID OF ALABAMA 866-452-4930 SPECIAL NEEDS ALLIANCE KATHERINE BARR, SIROTE AND PERMUTT 205-930-45147 A nationwide educational organization for attorneys with advanced knowledge & experience in laws affecting persons with disabilities. Barr is Alabama’s first attorney selected for membership.

HEALTH AND REHABILITATION 4 PAWS FOR ABILITY 937-374-0385 Service dogs (including seizure dogs, autism dogs, hearing dogs, and others) are made available to help increase community acceptance and participation of people with disabilities. ALABAMA HEAD INJURY FOUNDATION

205-823-3818 or 800-433-8002 ALABAMA PEDIATRIC THERAPY SERVICES LLC 205-274-2244 Alabama Pediatric Therapy Services LLC is a specialized outpatient clinic providing occupational and speech therapy to children with special needs.

ALABAMA RELAY CENTER 800-676-3777 Communication systems for the visually impaired and hearing impaired ARC 866-243-9557 The Arc of Alabama, Inc. is a statewide volunteer membership organization which advocates for people with cognitive, intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. THE ARC OF JEFFERSON COUNTY 205-856-2912 THE ARC OF SHELBY COUNTY

205-664-9313 Provides support and services that empower individuals with developmental disabilities and delays and their families throughout their lifespan to live happy, successful and productive lives. *BEHAVIORAL ONE 205-233-1414 An assessment and treatment center offering evidence-based services in behavior analysis, speech pathology and clinical psychology for children with Autism, developmental and learning disabilities. SEE OUR AD ON PAGE 19. THE BELL CENTER FOR EARLY INTERVENTION PROGRAMS 205-879-3417 Provides early intervention services including physical, occupational and speech therapies and early childhood special education to children 3 and younger with special needs. *BROOKWOOD BAPTIST HEALTH 

Primary & Specialty Care Network 205-877-2726  Our Primary & Specialty Care Network is devoted to caring for patients in locations all over central Alabama—and backed by all the resources of Brookwood Baptist Health. SEE OUR AD ON PAGE 39. *CAPSTONE MEDICAL RESOURCES LLC 205-305-6018 Psychological Evaluations and Therapeutic Services for children & adults, Speech Therapy, ADHD Testing & Medication Management, Court Evaluations & CoParenting Classes. SEE OUR AD ON PAGE 27.

12 | birminghamparent | march 2017


205-638-9149 Provides speech and audiology services to patients having or suspected of having any of the communication or hearing disorders possible in the pediatric population. CHILD-ADOLESCENT PARTNERS, LLC 205-492-2426 Provides evidence-based professional counseling services to children, adolescents and adults throughout central Alabama. *CHILD’S PLAY THERAPY CENTER LLC Pediatric Occupational Therapy Services 205-978-9939 Occupational, physical, speech and music therapy, along with academic tutoring. Experienced loving staff and facility just for kids. SEE OUR AD ON PAGE 31. *CHILDREN’S OF ALABAMA 205-638-9100 Children’s of Alabama has provided specialized medical care for ill and injured children since 1911, offering inpatient, outpatient, and primary care services throughout Alabama. SEE OUR AD ON PAGE 5. CHILDREN’S OF ALABAMA ADOLESCENT MEDICINE CLINIC 205-638-9231 The Adolescent Health Center serves patients ages 11-21 years of age. Services include primary care, eating disorders, nutrition, reproductive health, acne and ADHD. CHILDREN’S OF ALABAMA HEARING AND SPEECH 205-638-9149 Diagnostic and rehabilitative speech / language and audiology services are provided to inpatients and outpatients suspected of having any of the communication or hearing disorders possible in the pediatric population.   MEDICAL AUTISM CLINIC AND THE DEVELOPMENTAL MEDICINE CLINIC 205-638-5277 Medical Autism Clinic serves children with Autism Spectrum Disorders, offering a variety of

special evaluations. Developmental Medicine Clinic serves children with concerns related to development, behavior, social skills & learning.   CHILDREN’S OF ALABAMA NEWBORN FOLLOW-UP CLINIC 205-638-6966 Provides follow-up care to children born less than 29 weeks and low birth weight, had major cardiac surgery, been on ECMO or cooling therapy. Special examinations to check developmental milestones. CHILDREN’S OF ALABAMA PEDIATRIC REHABILITATION MEDICINE 205-638-9790 The UAB Division of Pediatric Rehabilitation Medicine utilizes an interdisciplinary approach to manage conditions including cerebral palsy, spina bifida, and brain injury, among others.   CHILDREN’S OF ALABAMA REGIONAL POISON CONTROL CENTER 800-222-1222 Provides free, confidential medical advice 24 hours a day. We help prevent the poison, treat & advise on medication overdoses and make recommendations on treatment.   DISABILITY DETERMINATION SERVICES 800-772-1213 *EASTER SEALS PEDIATRIC THERAPY 205-314-2165 Provides physical, occupational, and speech therapy to children with special needs ages birth to 21 regardless of ability to pay for services. SEE OUR AD ON PAGE 18.   *FOCAL POINT - CHILD’SPLAY THERAPY CENTER 205-978-9939 Focal Point is a program developed to specifically target improved processing, organizational and attention skills for children with ADD or ADHD utilizing cutting edge technologies. SEE OUR AD ON PAGE 27. FULL LIFE AHEAD 205-439-6534, 866-700-2026 Empowers the person with a disability to live as independently as possible.

GASTROENTEROLOGY, HEPATOLOGY AND NUTRITION CHILDREN’S OF ALABAMA 205-638-9918 gastroenterology Provides comprehensive, multidisciplinary evaluation and management of all pediatric gastrointestinal, live and nutritional problems. GLENWOOD, INC. 205-969-2880 Glenwood was created for the purpose of educating and treating individuals diagnosed with autism, emotional disturbances and mental illnesses. HANDS, LLC 205-951-1364 Services include one-on-one behavior based therapy for children 2 to 18, social skills groups, workshops and support groups. LAKESHORE FOUNDATION 205-313-7400 A nonprofit organization providing activity, research and advocacy for people with physical disabilities and chronic conditions. helping them become active and independent. *MEDICAL WEST 205-996-WEST SEE OUR AD ON PAGE 31. *MILESTONES BEHAVIOR GROUP, INC. 205.253.6903 Milestones Behavior Group, INC provides Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and speech & language services to children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and other developmental and communication disorders. SEE OUR AD ON PAGE 25.

PRECISION CHIROPRACTIC 205-988-9848 Dr. Marty Lovvorn of Precision Chiropractic specializes in the Gonstead technique which is the most scientific and specific chiropractic adjustment in the world today. REGIONAL POISON CONTROL CENTER Children’s of Alabama 800-222-1222 Free confidential medical advice 24 hours a day. *DR. ANGELICA ROHNER PEDIATRIC DENTISTRY

205-870-0892 Dr. Rohner is a specialist of pediatric and adolescent dentistry, providing for the individual needs of all children. We love what we do and it shows in the care we provide! SEE OUR AD ON PAGE 14. SERAAJ FAMILY HOMES, INC. 334-271-2402 or 877-656-2638 Seraaj Family Homes, Inc. is a nationally accredited child-placing agency. Become a Foster or an Adoptive Parent for a child with Therapeutic or Special Needs! SERVICE DOGS ALABAMA 334-462-2463 Dedicated to providing trained medical and psychiatric service dogs to children and veterans with disabilities and school service dogs to educators. DR. (SORY) CHUCK SHANNON PEDIATRIC DENTISTRY 205-582-4508 Providing dental care for children, which includes a teeth cleaning and education on oral hygiene. We treat children, adolescents and those with special needs. SEE OUR AD ON PAGE 25.

MITCHELL’S PLACE 205-957-0294 Comprehensive treatment center for children and young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

*THRIVE BEHAVIORAL SERVICES 205-624-2200 Behavioral services for children diagnosed with Autism and/or other developmental disabilities. SEE OUR AD ON PAGE 29.

PEDIATRIC THERAPY ASSOCIATES, INC. 205-823-1215 Programs focus on specialized individual physical and occupational therapy services.

*UNITED ABILITIES LIFE WITHOUT LIMITS CLINIC 205-944-3944 We provide innovative services connecting people with disabilities to their communities and empowering individuals to live full and meaningful lives. We envision

a world where disability is neither defining nor limiting. SEE OUR AD ON PAGE 2. UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA AT BIRMINGHAM - CIVITAN INTERNATIONAL RESEARCH CENTER, SPARKS CLINICS 205-934-8900 or 800-822-2472 Provides an extensive range of interdisciplinary clinics offering comprehensive diagnosis, evaluation, and treatment of the needs of children and adults. UNIVERSITY OF MONTEVALLO SPEECH AND LANGUAGE CENTER 205-665-6730 Assists children with communicative problems in obtaining diagnostic and therapeutic services; training of students majoring in speech language pathology. UNLESS U 205-215-5209 Committed to serving adults with developmental disabilities and their families through continuing education, life skills, and social skills. Our services create an environment that promotes independence. VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION SERVICES 334-293-7500 or 800-441-7607

RECREATION ADAPTIVE AQUATICS 205-807-7519 Provides opportunities for people to learn to water ski, no matter what their limitations. BETHANY’S KIDS/CAMP MCDOWELL 205-387-1806 Bethany’s Kids is an inclusion camp at Camp McDowell for kids with & without disabilities. * BIRMINGHAM ZOO

205-879-0409 Birmingham Zoo has worked to develop the Sensory Friendly Zoo Initiative to improve our capacity to serve visitors with sensory processing needs.  For more information go to www.birminghamzoo. com/visitor-info/accessibility. SEE OUR AD ON PAGE 35. CAMP ASCCA - EASTER SEALS ALABAMA’S SPECIAL CAMP FOR CHILDREN AND ADULTS 256-825-9226 Easter Seals Camp for children and adults with special needs.

CAMP WHEEZEAWAY 334-799-3449, click on Camp WheezeAway A free camp for children ages 8-12 with moderate to severe asthma. A week of learning, a lifetime of memories. C.A.S.T. FOR KIDS 256-310-4323 Established in 1991 with a mission to host quality, outdoor recreational fishing events for children with special needs. CHILDREN’S DANCE FOUNDATION 205-870-0073 Movement to Music for schoolage children with special needs is creative, includes a variety of colorful props and features live music. THE EXCEPTIONAL FOUNDATION 205-870-0776 The Exceptional Foundation is a nonprofit organization that strives to meet the social and recreational needs of children and adults with special needs. LAKESHORE FOUNDATION 205-313-7400 Promotes independence for adults and children with physically disabling conditions and opportunities to pursue active healthy lifestyles. MOODY MIRACLE LEAGUE 205-225-9444 A full handicapped accessible baseball field for any special need player. More than 250 players range from 4-75. THE MUSIC ROOM

Music Education – Music Therapy 205-702-6074 drums and Disabilities is a unique percussion based music therapy program currently serving a large majority of the special needs community in Alabama. OAK MOUNTAIN YOUTH BASEBALL/SOFTBALL CHALLENGER LEAGUE 205-223-6461 Provides boys and girls with disabilities the opportunity to experience the emotional development and the fun of playing Youth League Baseball. | 13

DIRECTORY SPRING 2017 ROOFTOP FRIENDS 334-244-1385 RoofTop Friends exists to love, serve, fellowship, share faith with those affected by disabilities by providing AL Family Retreat, fun activities and other respite care. SPECIAL EQUESTRIANS 205-987-9462 Provides high quality therapeutic horseback riding and equine assisted activities to persons with physical, cognitive, developmental and emotional disabilities. TENNESSEE JAYCEE FOUNDATION 615-504-1727 A specially designed summer camp for special needs individuals. We offer a week long camp, which offers swimming, fishing, arts and crafts and much more.

RESPITE & SUPPORT AARON’S STAFF RESPITE CARE MINISTRY 205-261-9914 Respite care at Aaron’s Staff means supporting the spiritual, emotional and physical needs of children with disabilities and their families. ALABAMA LIFESPAN RESPITE RESOURCE NETWORK 256-859-4900 866-737-8252 Works to create and connect family caregivers to quality respite resources. We have education opportunities for everyone and respite reimbursement programs to support caregivers.

SAINT MARK UNITED METHODIST CHURCH RESPITE 205-444-4696 our-ministries/respite-care SHADES MOUNTAIN BAPTIST CHURCH SPECIAL NEEDS MINISTRY 205-822-1670 A ministry providing assistance to special needs children, adults and the elderly. SOCKS 4 SURGERY Dedicated to providing a keepsake of a pair of socks; a reminder of overcoming the adversity of surgery.


205-876-1760 BATHFITTER addresses mobility issues by converting traditional tubs to easy access walk in showers with safety bars. BIOTECH LIMB & BRACE 205-324-7897 or 866-706-LIMB Biotech Limb and Brace has 6 fully certified orthotic and prosthetic practitioners serving Birmingham and Central Alabama for the last 15 years. CONSIDER IT JOY 205-538-7967 A gluten/casin free kitchen that offers baked goods and meals. A delicious alternative for those dealing with dietary restrictions.

Accessible Vehicles Wheelchair & Scooter Lifts Home Accessibility Specialists

Alabama’s Leader For Wheelchair Vans (256) 751-1365 . 213 CHESTNUT ST. NW, HARTSELLE, AL 35640 14 | birminghamparent | march 2017

DOTERRA ESSENTIAL OILS 205-586-7001 Our pure essential oils are revolutionizing the way families manage their health. We harness nature’s most powerful elements and share these gifts through our global community of wellness advocates. *GRIFFIN MOBILITY 256-751-1365 Griffin Mobility is your source for wheelchair accessible vehicles, automotive adaptive equipment and home accessibility products. Family owned and operated for over 25 years. SEE OUR AD ON PAGE 14. *MOBILITY CENTRAL 205-916-0670 Mobility Central employs a team of highly trained and caring medical equipment professionals dedicated to the wellbeing of our patients. SEE OUR AD ON PAGE 21. MOBILITY WORKS 877-275-4907 REIGNBOWS

205-222-6895 Handmade bows and accessories designed with special needs children in mind. These bows are as unique as your child. Adults can wear them as a brooch. SPROUTS FARMERS MARKET Sprouts Farmers Market is a grocery store offering fresh, natural and organic foods at great prices. Sprouts works to deliver the best

possible shopping experience to our guests and help them achieve a healthy lifestyle at an affordable price – not just buy groceries. TEACHER’S PET

205-783-5437 Parent Teacher Store with everything you need to help kids learn to include special need products on Highway 280 in Birmingham.

TRANSPORTATION CLASTRAN 205-325-8787 Transports persons who are elderly (60-plus), disabled or traveling to or from a rural area in Jefferson or Shelby counties. KID ONE 800-543-7143, 205-978-1000 Kid One Transport provides transportation for any child in need of reaching care that will better them medically, mentally or physically when they are without means of transportation.

RESIDENTIAL MONTGOMERY CHILDREN’S SPECIALTY CENTER 334-261-3445 A preferred children’s nursing and rehabilitation facility in Montgomery, AL. Providing services to children with severe developmental disabilities that require ongoing nursing care.


SPECIAL KIDS CLUB 2017 advertorial


With a combined 39 years of estate law experience, Melanie Bradford and John Holliman are here to assist you with: · Estate planning - Wills, Trusts, Durable Powers of Attorney, Health Care Directives · Special Needs Planning - irrevocable and revocable special needs trusts · Long term care planning - including asset protection, Medicaid planning, Medicaid applications and appeals · Retirement Planning - including VA benefits · Probate - Guardianship, conservatorship, and probating estates

John Holliman & Melanie Bradford (205) 663-0281 . 2491 Pelham Parkway, Pelham, AL 35124 Bradford & Holliman LLC serves Jefferson and Shelby counties through its Pelham office and Jackson, DeKalb, Marshall, and Madison counties through its Scottsboro office.

CHILDRENS OF ALABAMA admissions. With more than 2 million square feet, it is the third largest pediatric medical facility in the U.S.

Since 1911, Children’s of Alabama has provided specialized medical care for ill and injured children. Ranked among the best pediatric medical centers in the nation by US News & World Report, Children’s provided care for youngsters from every county in Alabama, 46 other states and seven foreign countries last year, representing more than 677,000 outpatient visits and more than 15,700 inpatient

Children’s offers inpatient and outpatient services across its Russell Campus on Birmingham’s historic Southside with additional specialty services provided at Children’s South, Children’s on 3rd and in Huntsville and Montgomery. Primary care is provided at more than a dozen medical offices in communities across central Alabama. Children’s of Alabama is the only medical center in Alabama dedicated solely to the care and treatment of children. It is a private, not-for-profit medical center that serves as the primary site of the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) pediatric medicine, surgery, psychiatry, research and residency programs. More information is available at

1600 7th Ave. South Birmingham, AL 35233 205-638-9100 | 15


SPECIAL KIDS CLUB 2017 advertorial

BEHAVIORAL ONE Behavioral ONE is an assessment and treatment center for children and adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders, Developmental Disabilities, and Learning Disabilities. At Behavioral ONE, we focus on providing the highest quality of services and supports to our children and their families. We believe that children are most successful and likely to make meaningful progress when all services and service providers work together.

offers comprehensive services and supports including diagnostic evaluations, applied behavior analysis therapy, speech and language therapy, dyslexia and academic tutoring, cognitive behavioral therapy, social skills groups, parent training, and family counseling. Behavioral ONE provides families with a single team of professionals to work with from the initial concern, through the assessment and diagnostic process, treatment plan development, and the provision of services and therapy. All Our assessment and treatment center of our service providers work collab-

oratively in order to offer the highest quality of integrated services to our children and families. Behavioral ONE is a team of professionals with a unique and specialized level of experience, expertise, and knowledge in the assessment, treatment, and support of children with disabilities. Our clinical staff includes licensed clinical psychologists, school psychologists, speech and language pathologists, board certified behavior analysts, and special education teachers.

1025 Montgomery Highway Southcrest Building Suite #214 Vestavia, AL 35216 205-703-8103 office 205-233-1414 cell

MOBILITY CENTRAL Mobility Central is a local, family-owned medical equipment provider offering state-of-theart equipment and therapies to improve the quality of life for both children and adults with special needs. We are dedicated to helping each patient regain and secure freedom and independence for daily living; as well as fostering development in our younger patients. Mobility Central employs a team of caring professionals who are thoroughly trained and highly

skilled in the services they provide. The staff works with medical personnel, the patient, the family and the caregiver to evaluate the home environment, assess equipment needs, and customize solutions that support the patient’s functional needs and therapeutic goals while addressing activities of daily living. At Mobility Central, we strive to build relationships with our customers by adhering to a “customer-centered, needs based” philosophy that ensures a

perfect equipment fit every time and exceptional customer service for the life of the equipment. Mobility Central was founded in Birmingham, Alabama in 2004 to serve the people of Alabama with medical equipment needs while demonstrating the utmost care and professionalism. When the simple act of living becomes really complex, trust Mobility Central to help you every step of the way!

400 Old Towne Road Vestavia, Alabama 35216 205-942-2534

EASTER SEALS OF THE BIRMINGHAM AREA The mission of Easter Seals of the Birmingham Area is to create solutions that change the lives of children and adults with disabilities or other special needs and their families. Easter Seals of the Birmingham Area will be the one non-profit organization: • Recognized throughout the Birmingham Area for the quality of its services by all people touched by the organization.

• With the most committed, capable and giving volunteers and staff of any charitable organization in Birmingham. • Known for its unified sense of purpose and its seamless network of services for children and adults with disabilities or other special needs, their families and their communities. • Strengthening the public’s belief, commitment and financial support of its mission.

• There is no pediatric facility in Shelby County that provides individualized care like Easter Seals Pediatric Therapy offering physical, occupational and speech therapy services with an interdisciplinary approach (including co-treatments) to meet each family’s needs. The therapist is one on one with the child in an outpatient setting. We provide a variety of distinctive services. Learn more about us at

Easter Seals of the Birmingham Area 2717 3rd Avenue South Birmingham, AL 35223 (205) 942-6277 EasterSealsBirmingham

MILESTONES BEHAVIOR GROUP, INC. No two people have exactly the same skill set or learning style. That’s why we create an individual behavior and skill acquisition plan for every client. Our team of Behavior Analysts and Speech/ Language Pathologists brings a combined 75+ years of experience working with different populations and challenges and improving the quality of lives for people and families affected by learning disabilities and exceptionalities such as Autism.  16 | birminghamparent | march 2017

Our team conducts both Functional Behavior Assessments and Functional Analyses in order to identify the function of behavior(s) that impedes a person’s ability to learn and negatively impacts his or her quality of life. Once a functional assessment has been completed, our Behavior Analysts develop a function-based BIP including empirically-based interventions from peer reviewed journals. Data collection systems are developed and true, data-

based decision making guides our practice. Our services include: Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA); Assessments and ongoing therapy in home, clinic and school; Speech & Language Services including evaluations and Augmentative Communication assessment and programming; Telehealth Parent Training. WE BELIEVE IN SCIENCE. WE BELIEVE IN DATA. WE BELIEVE IN YOUR CHILD.

3296 Cahaba Heights Rd. Vestavia Hills, AL 35243 205.253.6903


SPECIAL KIDS CLUB 2017 advertorial

THE AUTISM SOCIETY OF ALABAMA An Information and Referral Line to answer family questions about ASD. Conferences throughout the state to educate parents, therapist, teachers and individuals about ASD issues. A communication hub for Alabama families living with ASD through enews, website, social media and ASA Network Support Groups in meetings. 33 Alabama cities. ASA Network Consulting with legislators, the Support Groups offer families guid- Governor's Office and Departments ance in the care of their loved one of Education, Rehabilitation Services, Medicaid and Public Health. with ASD. The Autism Society of Alabama (ASA) is a statewide advocacy group with the mission of improving services for persons with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and their families through education and advocacy. ASA provides:

Innovative programs including the Autism Friendly Alabama initiative that will provide businesses the tools and knowledge to be inclusive and accessible for ASD families. Please join us in April for Autism Awareness Month, as we Light It Up Blue on April 2nd and Walk for Autism, Saturday April 8, 2017 at Veterans Park in Hoover. The Walk is a great event and an opportunity to meet other families thriving in our community.

www. 1-877-4AUTISM follow us

SORY "CHUCK" SHANNON, D.M.D. When you have a child with special needs, having them practice good dental hygiene is another everyday activity that may be difficult for you and your family. A lot of developmental conditions can affect the health and placement of your child’s teeth and gums. There are some steps that you can follow that will make dental hygiene practices easier for your child.

If you child lacks the dexterity to work a toothbrush, attach a hair brush handle or a tennis ball to your child’s toothbrush. Another thing that you could do is make tooth-brushing time a more pleasurable experience. If your child refuses to keep up with their daily dental routine, try hanging fun pictures around the bathroom to a muse them or play music. You could also have your child pretend to be a lion and

“roar” to open wide so that he can clean his teeth well. It is also critical to find a dentist that has some experience with special needs patients and can see your child each time he visits that practice. Seeing a familiar face can be a huge help. Dr. Shannon specializes in pediatric dental care to help your child relax and decrease anxiety. Call to make your appointment today. 205-995-8855 5113 Cyrus Circle, Suite A, Birmingham, AL 35242

CHILD'SPLAY THERAPY CENTER Child’sPlay Therapy Center provides occupational, physical, and speech therapy services, along with nutritional therapy, music therapy, and psychological testing and counseling. Our experienced staff uses play and “kid approved” activities to help children reach their goals. We can help your child succeed in the areas of speech/language development, gross motor skills, fine motor skills, sensory processing, attention/concen-

tration, feeding concerns, and academic delays. Focal Point is our highly successful intensive treatment program for ADD/ ADHD. Our brightly colored, beautiful Hoover facility consists of 8,000 square feet of state-ofthe-art space designed just for kids! It includes two sensory motor gyms, kid-friendly and adult waiting areas, feeding therapy room, multi-purpose toddler/ preschool room, numerous private therapy rooms, and a space

just for teens and pre-teens. Our special programming includes Orton Gillingham reading therapy, the “SOS” approach to feeding therapy, Handwriting Without Tears, Interactive Metronome, and Integrated Listening. We are also excited to announce a new location now open in Chelsea, AL, located at 48 Chesser Crane Road, just off of highway 280. Make sure to “like” us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for regular updates!

you provide for your loved ones in perpetuity – with honor, dignity, and compassion. At the Alabama Family Trust, we understand your needs. That’s why we offer the highest levels of professionalism, cost efficiency, and management for all special needs disability trusts for the families we humbly serve.

the elderly in a skilled nursing home so the person may maintain eligibility or achieve eligibility for any government benefits that may be available to him or her. We also protect the person from financial exploitation or fraud from people who would otherwise abuse the person with a disability.

As a unique public service created by state law, we shelter and protect assets for persons with disabilities of all ages including

The Alabama Family Trust has a proven track record of having all our trust documents accepted by SSA and Medicaid. Hoover: 205-978-9939 Chelsea: 205-618-8095


You want to take care of your loved ones. Special needs disability trusts (also called supplemental needs trusts) help accomplish that goal, and help

2820 Columbiana Road Ste 103, Vestavia, AL 35216 205-313-3915 | 17

SPECIAL KIDS CLUB 2017 advertorial

BIRMINGHAM PARENT'S THRIVE BEHAVIORAL SERVICES At Thrive Behavioral Services we​ believe all children are capable of learning! Many are in need of​ a different form of teaching. We believe we have that to offer.​ Using the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis and Verbal Behavior,​we will design a program that targets your specific child’s​individual needs. Most programs include targeting behaviors we​want to increase such as communication, school

readiness,​toileting, dressing oneself, and​social skill development while at the same time targeting behaviors​that we want to decrease such as biting, screaming, throwing​objects, hitting, and task refusal. At Thrive we believe in families,​ after all​, the family is the child’s primary teacher. ​We offer both in​- home, community, and clinicbased services. If​your child has difficulty when visiting​grocery

stores, restaurants,​movie theatres, parks, daycare/school, we are here to accompany​you and your child to that specific community setting to work on​ goals there. Services Include; IEP support, ABA/VB Therapy,​ NET, Discrete Trial, Assessment, Parent/Caregiver Training, Potty​ Training, Social Skills, Functional Assessment, Functional Analysis,​School/Daycare Shadowing and Support/Training.

Upper Limit Learning Center has specialty programs available in reading and math that fill in learning gaps and are specialized for students with learning disabilities or educational deficiencies.

session and tips for the student on how to improve skills.

Behavioral Services

Chelsia Massey M.S. BCBA 205-624-2200 2685 Pelham Pkwy Ste C Pelham, AL 35124

UPPER LIMIT LEARNING We tutor K-12 students in any subject, as well as conduct test prep sessions. Whether a student needs support for an upcoming exam, wants to make a high ACT score, or needs homework help, our plan will be to help each student achieve their goals. We work hard to match students with an instructor who will best meet their needs, allowing a connection to develop between the students and their tutor.

One of our most distinguishing characteristics is our personalized session summary written by the tutor which provides an individual report recap about the materials covered during each

We are not a chain and do not offer a “one size fits all” program. Each schedule is customized according to the needs of each student. We believe firmly in the ability of every child and adult to achieve their potential if given the correct tools and opportunities. We hope you connect with us soon so we can begin sharing this with you!

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Ournew pediatric clinicoffer offers a sensory room equipped with The clinic a sensory room equipped a a The new clinic will will offerexperiences. a sensory roomAequipped withwith a with variety of sensory large gym climbing Theof new clinic will offer a sensory room equipped with a variety of sensory experiences. Agym large gym with climbing variety sensory experiences. A large with climbing wall, exercise bar with mirror, swings, and other fun exerwall, exercise bar with mirror, swings, and exercise variety of experiences. A large gym withfun climbing Easter Seals offers an interdisciplinary team approach wall, exercise barsensory with mirror, swings, and other funother exercise cise equipment are also available. Each therapy room has an equipment will be available. Each room to treating theavailable. whole child. Our staff oftherapy speech-language wall, exercise bar with mirror, swings, and will other funwill exercise equipment will also also be Each therapy room pathologists, physical therapist, and occupational observation room so that parents or guardians observe have observation room so that parents or guardians can have anan observation so parents or guardians cancan equipment willroom also bethat available. Each therapy room will therapists specialize in the Parent diagnosis and treatment observe their child in therapy. support groups have their child in therapy. Parent support groups and a variety observe in therapy. Parent support groups havetheir anofchild observation room so that parents orhave guardians canof various children’s disabilities. Each therapy room begun and a variety of other programs such as karate for other karate for special are offered. begun andprograms ahas variety ofsuch other such as karate for groups an observation room that parents orneeds guardians observe their child inasprograms therapy. Parent support have Behavioral ONE is an assessment and treatment center for children with Autism Our pediatric clinic off ers a so sensory room equipped with special needs will be offered. The new clinic will offer a sensory room equipped with a a Spectrum Disorders, Developmental Disabilities, and Learning Disabilities can observe their child in therapy. special needs will beoffer offered. The new clinic will a sensory room equipped with a begun and a variety of other programs such as karate for variety of sensory experiences. A large gym with climbing Theof new clinic will offer a sensory room equipped with a variety of sensory experiences. Agym large gym with climbing variety sensory experiences. A large with climbing special needs will be offered. wall, exercise bar with mirror, swings, and other fun exer- • Comprehensive Diagnostic Evaluations wall, exercise bar mirror, and other fun exercise variety of experiences. A large gym with climbing wall, exercise barsensory withwith mirror, swings,swings, and other fun exercise Speech/Language Delays Sensory Processing Disorder Sensory Processing Disorder Speech/Language Delays • Applied Behavior Analysis Therapy Sensory Processing Disorder Speech/Language Delays cise equipment are also available. Each therapy room has an equipment will also be available. Each therapy room wall, exercise bar with mirror, swings, and other funwill exercise equipment will also beImpairment available. Each therapy room will Academic Difficulties Cognitive Academic Difficulties Cognitive Impairment • Speech and Language Therapy Academic Difficulties Cognitive Impairment observation room so that parents or guardians observe have observation room so that parents or guardians can • Dyslexia and Academic Tutoring Feeding Disorders have anan observation so parents or guardians cancan equipment willroom also bethat available. Each therapy room will Autism Spectrum Disorder Feeding Disorders Autism Spectrum Disorder Feeding Disorders Autism Spectrum Disorder Sensory Processing Disorder Speech/Language Delays observe their in therapy. Parent support groups have •of Orthopedic their child inchild therapy. Parent groups and a& variety observe their child inSyndrome therapy. Parent support groupsInjuries have Down have an observation room sosupport that parents or guardians can Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Orthopedic Injuries Needs Down Syndrome & Needs Orthopedic Injuries & Needs Down Syndrome Academic Difficulties Cognitive Impairment begun and a variety of other programs such as karate for other programs such as karate for special needs are off ered. begun and a variety of other programs such as karate for Seizure Disorders Handwriting/Fine Motorhave• Social Skills Groups and Classes Seizure Disorders Handwriting/ observe their child in therapy. Parent support groups Handwriting/Fine Motor Seizure Disorders special needs will be offered. • Parent Training and Family Counseling Feeding Disorders Autism Spectrum Disorder Cerebral Palsy Fine Motor Challenges special needs will offered. Challenges Cerebral Palsy begun and abevariety of other programs such as karate for Challenges Cerebral Palsy

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Down Syndrome

Orthopedic Injuries & Needs

SUMMER SOCIAL SKILLS GROUPS The therapy program at Easter Sealsanoffers an special needs will at beEaster offered. The therapy program Seals offers 240 Commerce Parkway, Pelham, AL 35214 Handwriting/Fine Motor Seizure Disorders Comprehensive Care for the Entire Family Sensory Processing Disorder Speech/Language Delays interdisciplinary to treating the whole Sensory Processing Disorder Speech/Language Delays 205-314-2165 | approach interdisciplinary teamteam approach to treating the whole For more information & scheduling, please contact Billy Richardson Challenges Cerebral Palsy Academic Difficulties Cognitive Impairment child. Our of speech-language pathologists, Academic Difficulties Cognitive Impairment child. Our staffstaff of speech-language pathologists, physical physical | 205-703-8103 Feeding Disorders Autism Spectrum Disorder therapist, and occupational therapists specialize the Feeding Disorders Autism Spectrum Disorder Sensory Processing Speech/Language Delays The therapy program at Easter Seals offers therapist, and occupational therapists specialize in thean inDisorder Orthopedic & Needs Down Syndrome 18 Syndrome | birminghamparent | march 2017 diagnosis treatment of various children’s disabilities. Orthopedic Injuries &Injuries Needs Down Academic Difficulties Cognitive Impairment diagnosis andand treatment of various children’s disabilities. interdisciplinary team approach to treating theMotor whole Handwriting/Fine Seizure Disorders Handwriting/Fine Seizure Disorders FeedingMotor Disorders Autism Spectrum Disorder

child. Our staff of speech-language pathologists, physical

ACT & (205) 783-5103 (205) 783-5103 One-on-One Individualized







Explore the technology of transport | 19 200 19TH STREET NORTH — BIRMINGHAM, AL 35203 — WWW.MCWANE.ORG


United Cerebral Palsy of Greater Birmingham changes its name, but not its purpose By Carol Muse Evans

United Cerebral Palsy of Greater Birmingham has been serving more than cerebral palsy patients for 70 years, so on February 14, it said “goodbye” to the old and launched a new brand and name, United Ability, to more accurately reflect the variety of disabilities served by the organization. United Ability reflects the organization’s desire and need to unite everyone in the community, regardless of ability, to live powerful and meaningful lives, says Alison Berman, chief development officer. “There is no change in our mission or our vision,” says Berman. “Maybe a third of the 4,000 or so that are served yearly actually have CP. So this just follows to change the name, and we tried to take away the ‘dis’ that has been a negative, and make it about ‘ability,’ which is a positive.” Dr. Gary Edwards, CEO, says the name change is more reflective of what the organization does and what it is to the community. “Today, we have grown and are united in purpose, who we want to be. We changed the name to reflect what we already are and have been doing – helping people with disabilities lead more enriched lives.”

Photo by Donald Love

20 | birminghamparent | march 2017

Edwards adds that the name change will help the organization to “remain true to our longstanding mission and we convey our work helping people with ALL types of disabilities throughout their lifetimes. This support, from birth throughout life, makes United Ability unique.” Serving people from newborn to adulthood, United Ability has all the services that UCP historically had – Hand in Hand, the NAEYC-accredited early learning program serving children ages 6 weeks to 5 years with and without disabilities; LINCPoint, the adult day care program serving more than 150 adults with disabilities; a state-of-the-art on-site medical clinic with Dr. Charles Law, chief medical officer, in a partnership with UAB; a supported employment program that helps more than 350 adults with disabilities find and maintain work, and UNITED ABILITY Enterprises and Gone for Good that employs more than 100 adults with disabilities through workshops and their NAID AAA certified document destruction company. United Ability serves adults and children with disabilities including, but not limited to, intellectual disabilities, traumatic brain injury, developmental disabilities, cerebral palsy, autism, Down syndrome and spina bifida. In addition, it is the largest early intervention provider, serving almost 750 children ages birth to 3 years old in a seven-county area. United Ability also provides physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, education and other services. In addition, the organization sees people after accidents, with head injuries, spinal injuries, paralysis and more.

United Ability does all they can on site, Berman says, “but we are advocating everywhere. We don’t want to be the “best kept secret.” “Millennials have no idea who we are,” Edwards adds, and they hope this name change is just one way to change that. Edwards has led the organization for the past 34 years, being only the third director in the lifetime of the organization. If the name change means growth, Edwards says they are ready to grow. The clinic is poised to expand to reach more of those they serve with a highly credentialed and seasoned staff, Berman adds. “We want to create a community for those who love us and the parents who need us,” Berman says. “Our new name is dedicated to every individual and family touched by our work. United Ability focuses on the positive: what each individual can accomplish and how their lives are enriched.” For more information about the United Ability and the name change, visit www. No referral is required to use its services. Carol Muse Evans is publisher & editor of Birmingham Parent.

Photo by Alabama News Center/karim Shamsi-basha

Fostering independence, development, and fun...

205.916.0670 400 Old Towne Road, Vestavia, AL 35216 Open Monday - Friday 9 to 5 and Saturdays 10 to 2 Located off of Highway 31 in Vestavia behind the bowling alley and next to Chuck-e-cheese | 21

Music Therapy for Special Needs Kids and Adults By Lori Chandler Pruitt

Photo by Mark Lucas

Mark Lucas loves music. It’s always been a huge part of his life, and now he shares that passion with people of all ages with physical and intellectual disabilities. He’s also knows what it’s like to struggle. As a boy of 12, with aspirations of being a rock star, he was already playing percussion in a church praise band when one day he lost control of his muscles, followed by epileptic seizures. He endured seven years of frequent seizures before having brain surgery. While the surgery took care of the seizures, he lost the use of the left side of his body. Looking back, “it was a crazy blessing in disguise,” says Lucas, now 27. His love of music never wavered, although it took a good deal of time for him to learn to play with both hands again, building the left side of his body. In the meantime, he realized his purpose – to serve God and others through his music. “I began doing small music projects here and there, but I also realized that there were not 22 | birminghamparent | march 2017

many programs offered for people on the autism spectrum or other disabilities.” He earned his bachelor’s degree in music at Jacksonville State University, and then became a certified music therapist through the Drums and Disabilities (D.A.D.) national organization. Today, he not only teaches percussion classes, using drum therapy to encourage a sense of achievement in people with a wide range of disabilities, but also piano, guitar and other instruments. He also has regained almost full use of the left side of his body. He offers classes and music therapy sessions at The Music Room in Leeds, a multi-purpose music and art school for children and adults of all ages and abilities that he and his sister Jessica Lucas Stone opened in 2014. He also partners with different organizations to teach individuals and groups, such as The Exceptional Foundation in Homewood and The Arc of Jefferson County.

He also has conducted D.A.D. classes at the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind. “Music is a huge mood shifter,” he says. “You use multiple parts of your body, and the synapses fire in your brain. Our groups vary in size, and it gets people far out of their element. It’s something they can do on their own.” Lucas is beginning a music initiative program with Kulture City, a local group with national impact that works to help businesses and community organizations better understand the needs of people with autism, and to create more sensory-appropriate venues and opportunities. He also works with older adults, going to Mount Royal Towers, an assisted living facility, to use music in working with memory care patients. “A lot of these patients identify with specific genres of music, such as gospel or doo-wop, and I like to give all of them an instrument to play.”

Lucas does percussion-based programs, but also brings in other instruments, such as piano, and guitar. He offers group and individual sessions, and crafts programs to a person’s or group need. Lucas keeps up with the latest research on music therapy. The Music Room offers Drum Therapy™, which helps improve coordination and social skills, sensory integration, cognitive development and fine motor skill development; Keys to the Soul™, a piano-based music program that relieves stress and pressures while requiring a person’s full attention; and Music for the Mind™, a specialized program for senior citizens. Several studies have shown that music can help people with disabilities and types of special needs such as autism, cerebral palsy, childhood speech apraxia, learning disabilities and asthma in many ways. It also can help students who struggle with depression, ADHD, anxiety and those who lack self-confidence. “My musical career didn’t exactly work out the way I expected – I’m an epilepsy patient and I deal with that,” he says. “But music is powerful, and it becomes a common denominator for everyone. I want to make music possible for as many people as I can.” For more information about Lucas and his music classes and therapy programs, call 205-706-9759 or The Music Room in Leeds,

Lori Pruitt is associate editor of Birmingham Parent.

(205) 783-5103

Photo by Mark Lucas

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5336 Stadium Trace Parkway Suite 112, Hoover, AL 35244 205 988-9678 | 23

Sensory Friendly Trailblazers in Alabama By Bama Hager, Ph.D.

sensory kits that may assist autism customers or children of customers. Many branches have an identified quiet space for patrons who may need a space to take a break or decompress for a moment. Regions Bank is a shining example of the direction many businesses will be taking to meet the needs of families who have daily challenges. Autism Friendly establishments are conveying a message of inclusion, that all are welcome and efforts will be made to address the needs of customers. It is a new kind of customer service; a customer service that is above and beyond what might be expected.   In the Birmingham area, Autism Society of AL has consulted with many businesses and public organizations regarding sensory friendly environmental accommodations. The following is list of a few of the businesses, facilities and organizations:

McWane Science Center Feeling truly welcome anywhere is comforting. Entering a place and feeling at ease, at home is priceless. Regardless of age or abilities, everyone understands the thoughts and feelings associated with being welcomed or embraced. There has been recent emphasis within disability advocacy for acceptance in addition to awareness. Community awareness of challenges associated with disabilities serves disability populations by improving understanding of special needs.  Community acceptance goes a step further highlighting efforts in the community to welcome, invite and accommodate those living with challenges. Not unlike environmental accommodations for those with physical and mobility challenges, environmental accommodations for sensory challenges are gaining attention.   Families living with autism often report that community outings are problematic and take considerable preparation.  Because of this, the threat of isolation is an ongoing issue for autism families. At times, a child or 24 | birminghamparent | march 2017

adult with sensory challenges may exhibit disruptive behaviors related to sensory overstimulation that make outings challenging or near impossible. Sensory Friendly or Autism Friendly is an initiative by the Autism Society of AL and the Alabama Interagency Autism Coordinating Council to assist businesses and facilities in AL to be more inviting to patrons who live with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The goal of the initiative is to assist public establishments in removing barriers to visits by those with autism or sensory processing disorder. In addition, business managers and community leaders are coached to add environmental features that may make an encounter for someone with autism more comfortable. Regions Bank is a leader in Autism Friendly efforts. The bank has incorporated Autism Friendly elements in Regions’ 1,600 branches in the South. Regions branch staff have been briefed about the special needs of autism patrons. Branches are equipped with

• Movie theaters • Regions Bank • Barons Baseball • Public libraries • Churches and synagogues • Stores including Toys R Us and Target • Red Mountain Theater Company • Birmingham Museum of Art • Restaurants • Hair salons • McWane Science Center • Birmingham Shuttlesworth International Airport • Chuck E Cheese • UAB, BSC sporting events How does a business become Autism Friendly? It may be different for each environment but there are core features. These include: • Signage indicating a business is sensory friendly • Training or briefing of staff on the needs of those with sensory issues • Designated quiet space to be used during times of distress or overstimulation • Sensory toys or manipulatives to calm patrons • Headphones or earplugs might be available to decrease auditory sensory input • Manipulation of lighting or sensory stimuli when appropriate

At Autism Society of AL, we have been encouraged by the enthusiasm of public businesses and organizations to meet the needs of those living with sensory processing issues. If there is a place you frequent that might alter their environment slightly to make your child or loved one more comfortable, just ask. You might be surprised that managers, owners, coordinators, pastors and other leaders may be more than willing to listen to your needs and respond as they are able. Like any parent I dream about the world my son will inherit. I often enter a disability accessible entrance to a public building and I consider the advocates before me who pioneered accommodations for those with physical limitations. I picture the not-so-distant future when I enter any public place and see the sensory accommodation signage and am met with opportunities to enrich my son’s visit so that he can enjoy every aspect of his community alongside his nondisabled peers. For more information about assisting your favorite businesses, restaurants, church or entertainment spot in becoming Autism Friendly or Disability Friendly, please contact the Autism Society of Alabama at, Facebook Jerry ASA, Instagram or Twitter @autismsocietyAL.

Bama Hager, Ph.D., is the parent of a teen son living with Autism and program director, Autism Society of AL.

If you would like more information about making your business autism friendly, please contact The Autism Society of Alabama at (205) 383­1674 or visit www.autism­


Sory “Chuck” Shannon, D.M.D. practices pediatric dentistry from infancy to college age within Birmingham, Alabama. Our long-term and caring staff is very child-friendly, so trust us with your child’s dental care. Dr. Shannon specializes in pediatric dental care to help your child relax and decrease anxiety. We teach your child good oral hygiene to give them the proper tools to continue to care for their mouth and teeth. As an active part of the Children’s Hospital of Alabama, we also perform hospital dentistry. For your convenience, we accept all insurance and are a preferred provider for Blue Cross™, Delta™, and Medicaid. | 205-995-8855 5113 Cyrus Circle, Suite A, Birmingham, AL 35242

Our services are available to children ages 2-18 years with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Down’s Syndrome, ADD/ADHD, and other developmental disabilities. • Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) assessments and ongoing therapy in home, clinic and school • Speech & Language Services including evaluations and Augmentative Communication assessment and programming • Telehealth Parent Training • Accepts most major insurance • Large team of providers serving the entire state of Alabama

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w w | 25

ABLE Accounts Work Best with Special Needs Trusts By Melanie Bradford, executive director for Alabama Family Trust

3. Lifetime Limits to Contributions – There is a $100,000 limit for the funds that may be held in an ABLE account. While an individual may save money using an ABLE account, he or she will not be able to exceed this limit.  4. Medicaid Reimbursement at Death – Any funds remaining in an ABLE account at the death of the disabled individual must be used toward reimbursement of Medicaid benefits paid for the benefit of the disabled individual. 

One restriction that is particularly troublesome is the inability to use funds in trust to pay for rent or a house payment without Social Security and Medicaid disqualifying the trust as an asset protection device.

The Achieving a Better Life Experience Act of 2014, or “ABLE Act,” became federal law on December 19, 2014. Originally, many thought this law would eliminate the need for special needs trusts and make it very easy for a family to handle a disabled individual’s assets.  While this law has many benefits, it does not eliminate the need for a special needs trust and works best if used in conjunction with a special needs trust. Parents or guardians using special needs trusts know that federal and state law impose certain restrictions and requirements on the use of trust funds. One restriction that is particularly troublesome is the inability to use funds in trust to pay for rent or a house payment without Social Security and Medicaid disqualifying the trust as an asset protection device.  Instead, a disabled individual and his or her family are left to determine how to provide appropriate shelter and food on a monthly budget of $735 each month, the maximum SSI benefit.  26 | birminghamparent | march 2017

ABLE accounts change this problem by allowing payments for food and shelter from the accounts. This example, by itself, would make it seem like an ABLE account solves most of the financial problems disabled individuals face; however, there are downsides to ABLE accounts, such as: 1. Age Limit – ABLE accounts may only be opened by individuals that became blind or disabled before the age of 26.  This restriction severely limits the individuals qualified to open an ABLE account. 2. Yearly Limits to Contributions – There is a limit of $14,000 that may be deposited into an ABLE account each year. This low limit eliminates individuals from protecting most inheritances, legal settlements or judgments, and gifts by placing all of the proceeds into an ABLE account.  A special needs trust is necessary to hold any amounts over $14,000.

The limitations and restrictions above illustrate why it remains critical for special needs trusts to be used in conjunction with ABLE accounts. A special needs trust can be created at any age in Alabama (although a pooled special needs trust must be used for someone 65 or older). There are no yearly or lifetime limits regarding the assets that can be placed in a special needs trust.  Additionally, and perhaps, most importantly, if a family member sets up a special needs trust for a disabled individual, any remaining funds at the death of the individual are distributed to the individuals or charities that are listed in the trust document instead of being distributed to the Medicaid agency.  It is important to understand the advantages and limitations of both techniques and to realize that if they are used together, they can provide a better standard of living for individuals with disabilities. Melanie B. Bradford is an attorney and the executive director for Alabama Family Trust (“AFT”), a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization that administers pooled special needs trusts for individuals in Alabama and across the United States.  AFT is located at 2820 Columbiana Road, Vestavia Hills, AL.


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Alabama Family Trust is a unique public service that helps parents administer special needs trusts for their loved ones; providing a safe haven for financial resources, and helping assure important government benefits for their future.

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Special Olympics Alabama Impacting lives, one sport at a time By Paige Townley

Photos courtesy of Special Olympics Alabama

Angel Stone is a 14-year-old Thompson Middle School student who, like many teens, enjoys playing sports. She spends much of her time participating in activities like bowling, track and field, and even cheerleading. And she’s able to participate in these sports thanks in part to the Special Olympics, the world’s largest sports organization for people with intellectual disabilities. Every day, thousands of children and adults with intellectual disabilities like Angel all across Alabama and around the world get the opportunity to experience joy and build skills and friendships through the Special Olympics. The organization first began in the late 1950s, when Eunice Kennedy Shriver first noticed that children with intellectual disabilities didn’t have the same opportunities as other children. To provide a place and an opportunity to play sports, she opened up her backyard and began hosting summer camps. Little did she know that those backyard sports competitions would become an internationally-recognized organization. 28 | birminghamparent | march 2017

The first International Special Olympics Summer Games was held in 1968 in Chicago, where 1,000 people with intellectual disabilities from 26 states and Canada competed in just three sports: track and field, swimming and floor hockey. By 1988, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) signed a historic agreement that officially endorsed and recognized the Special Olympics. Today, the nonprofit boasts more than 4.7 million athletes in 169 countries and over one million volunteers. “Special Olympics athletes deserve the opportunity to compete in every sport in which they have interest,” says Special Olympics Alabama Executive Director Robert L. Bushong. “And with the help of those volunteers – we could not accomplish anything without their support – we are proud to be able to provide them with opportunities in numerous sports.” Special Olympics Alabama was officially founded in 1986, and today it boasts approximately 16,000 athletes in more than 18 different sports. “Many people have this notion

that people with intellectual disabilities don’t have much opportunity in their life,” Bushong says. “But we have all kinds of programs that offer opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities to succeed, and we have extremely high performing athletes taking part.” Special Olympics’ Olympic-style individual and team sports offer meaningful opportunities for participants, and the organization offers various numerous competitions at various levels in each sport. Specifically in Alabama, there are events like the State Games – held every year in May at Troy University – and local competitions within each county’s Special Olympics program. A significant program within the Special Olympics is Unified Sports, which joins people with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team. The Special Olympics’ athlete and the non-disabled partner train and compete together. “We create teams based on the athlete’ abilities and competition level,” Bushong explains. “We try hard to pair up the ability levels as closely as possible so that it’s equal and fair and everyone has the opportunity to win.” Gay Litton has been volunteering with Special Olympics Alabama’s Shelby County program for more than 40 years. While she retired from Shelby County Schools years ago, she has continued her involvement with the Special Olympics. “What has always impressed me about the Special Olympics and what has kept me involved for so many years is that it not only provides opportunities for involvement to the athletes, but it gives their families opportunities to celebrate and cheer for their athletes,” she says. “A lot of these families don’t have many opportunities to do that. The Special Olympics gives families of athletes with intellectual disabilities an opportunity to celebrate their children and their accomplishments, as well as opportunities to interact with other families just like them.” Litton is heavily involved in Shelby County’s Special Olympics program, specifically with its Unified Sports, which includes unified opportunities in bowling, golf, volleyball, softball, cycling, basketball, tennis and now flag football. The unified teams get opportunities to compete in state tournaments, and many have been to national competitions. “We’ve had unified bowling teams go compete in Reno, Nevada, and this year we

have teams going to Las Vegas,” she says. “We recently sent several unified golf teams to Port St. Lucie, Florida, for a national invitational golf tournament there. There are so many opportunities with Unified Sports. It’s a great program on so many levels. It gives Special Olympics athletes opportunities to travel and for social interaction with non-disabled students and adults, all while they are building their skills in their sport. Then it also helps non-disabled students and adults better understand people with disabilities. It helps them see beyond the disability.”

Every day, thousands of children and adults with intellectual disabilities across Alabama and around the world get the opportunity to experience joy and build skills and friendships through the Special Olympics. Also helping people see Special Olympics athletes beyond their disabilities is Nan Franks, an adaptive physical education teacher for Alabaster City Schools and Special Olympics coordinator. A cheerleading coach for 18 years, Franks volunteers with a group of nine Special Olympics students, including Angel, on a cheer squad called ACS Spirit Squad. The group – the only Special Olympics cheer squad in the state – started with five students, and now the squad is up to nine and ranges from grades five to 11. “It’s really a thrill to see them perform an activity that other kids get to do and see them get the same attention,” Franks says. “Our squad got to walk in the Thompson homecoming parade and they cheered at the community-wide pep rally, where they performed a dance, and they

were a big hit. They did a great job, and they were thrilled to be a part of it all.” Last year, the cheerleading squad performed at the University of Alabama’s Bryant-Denny Stadium during the Special Olympics’ Flag Football game, which was part of the events for the Alabama High School Athletic Association Super 7 Football Championships. Coming up, the Special Olympics cheerleading squad will be cheering at Special Olympics Alabama events, and Thompson

High School basketball games. “It means so much that these girls have opportunities like these,” Franks says. “It means a lot to these girls to have an official squad and have a cheerleading uniform and pompoms. And it’s amazing to watch them doing these activities, which they’ve never had the opportunity to do before. That’s what the Special Olympics is all about.” Paige Townley is a Birmingham freelance writer.

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Crossing Points Helps Students with Special Needs Cross Over to Independence By Lori Chandler Pruitt

“There is a huge emphasis on employment outcome in Tier 1,” says Dr. Kagendo Mutua, CrossingPoints director and professor of severe and profound disabilities and transition in the department of special education and multiple abilities in the UA College of Education. “These students may not necessarily be college bound in the traditional way, but they will acquire the skills they need to gain employment. We can help them in an age-appropriate setting. This past year, all our program graduates were employed.” The second program, Tier 2, is called the Summer Bridge Program and provides students 19 and older with intellectual disabilities a structured opportunity to experience, explore and develop skills for pursuing postsecondary education. Held during June and July, students, who apply from all over Alabama and other states, live

Every young person likes to envision their future. For those with special needs, that process can seem daunting – but the CrossingPoints program is doing its part to help that transition from school easier, in a way that builds confidence and independence. CrossingPoints, housed on the University of Alabama campus, is a student transition program that began in 2002 and is funded in part by a five-year grant by the Office of Postsecondary Programs of the U.S. Department of Education. CrossingPoints offers two different programs that serve special needs students. “They learn so much about themselves, and gain independence from family and caretakers in order to make decisions for themselves,” says Dr. Jim Siders, CrossingPoints internal administrative liaison. The first program, Tier 1, is a collaboration between UA, Tuscaloosa City Schools and Tuscaloosa County Schools. Eligible students in those school systems with significant disabilities ages 18-21 follow a transition curriculum, “Life Center Career Education,” which includes daily living skills, personal social skills, occupational guidance and preparation. All of these components help students make informed choices about their future. Students in Tier 1 are recommended by the partnering school systems. 30 | birminghamparent | march 2017

support. That is a huge components. We have excellent support through fundraisers and other events.” CrossingPoints recently received a $2.5 million grant to help expand the program to provide more transition services. “Once these students graduate from public schools, their network of resources almost evaporates,” Siders says. “Our goal is to pipeline students enrolled in our summer program to meet their goals, and to have a follow-up program for them as well.” There is a national certification program that some other universities have completed that helps students with intellectual disabilities enter post-secondary education, with follow-up support and resources, Mutua says. Federal law now allows for students with selected disabilities to enroll in college. “For some of our students, college is an option, where it has not been an option before,” she says. “Our goal is always to help them realize their goals.” CrossingPoints also welcomes volunteers. For more information, call 205-348-3180 or go to

Lori Pruitt is associate editor of Birmingham Parent.

in UA dorms and participate in a curriculum blend of CrossingPoints-specific courses and can select up to two UA courses based on eligibility and interests. The students must be formerly eligible for special education services who want to pursue postsecondary education. Tier 2 typically has about 10 students who live in the dorms. Graduate and undergraduate students serve as mentors, to work with participants in all facets of the program, from classes to community work and entertainment excursions. “Our mentors help infuse our participation in the fabric of the community of what UA is all about,” Mutua says. The university provides space and personnel, and there is a lot of community

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A Special Needs Adoption Story: Jojo and Zee By Jenny Clark

Photo by Kim Brantley Photography

32 | birminghamparent | march 2017

Jojo and Zee are my “twins,� not by birth (obviously) but by the great gift of adoption. They both have Down syndrome and are only seven months apart, but their adoption stories are quite different. I adopted Jojo at birth in the summer of 2013 with the help of the National Down Syndrome Adoption Network. When Jojo was about a year old, I felt the Lord calling me to become a foster parent. I wondered what would happen if a child with special needs came into foster care, and I wanted to be able to help so I got licensed. The day after I got my license, I got a call about a very medically fragile little boy, Zee, who happened to have Down syndrome. As the social worker read off his LONG list of medical needs, (fully ventilator dependent, tracheostomy, gastrostomy, ventilator dependent, chronic respiratory failure, AV canal defect, Tetrology of Fallot, pulmonary hypertension, developmental delay, hypothyroidism, polysplenia), I was admittedly scared to death. However, I knew this was specifically what I signed up for, although I wasn't expecting it to look like this or happen so fast. I suggested that I go to the hospital and meet him, pray a whole lot, and we would go from there. There were two social workers, a couple of nurses and a doctor in the little hospital room on the day we met. We talked over his case and his extensive medical needs. The plan at the time was to wean him off the ventilator and he would come home with just the trach and gtube. He would need surgery eventually, but right now he just needed someone to come to the hospital to hold him and bond with him. I said yes to that plan. Of course, like most plans, things turned out quite differently. I could tell pretty quickly from visiting him that weaning off the vent wasn't going so well. It seemed that very little changed each time I saw him, until the day everything changed. I got a call from the hospital saying Zee had coded, and I needed to come right away. That was less than three weeks after the day we met. I truly thought he was going to die that day. I felt so helpless because I could do nothing for him. He managed to pull through and had his first heart surgery a few weeks later. They did a repair that would basically

“hold him off ” until he was big enough and strong enough to have his open heart surgery. By the grace of God alone he was doing well enough by the end of September that they were ready to send him home. However, he was still on the ventilator and it didn't look like he would be coming off it any time soon. My mom and I went through six weeks of training to learn all about caring for a child on a ventilator/trach. We managed to complete the training with the help of our village and on November 24, 2014, Zee came home. He was 10 months old. To be honest, the months that followed are a bit of a blur. I was so happy to have him home, but his care was exhausting. The amount of supplies, the medications, the machines and the potential for emergencies were just overwhelming. Going anywhere was really hard and we had a lot of doctor appointments. Zee had his first open heart surgery in June of 2015. The first surgery wasn't as successful as they had hoped, and he was still having complications so a second open heart surgery was necessary. We spent over a month in the hospital.

Often these children have ADD or are on the autism spectrum. Sometime the cases are more extreme, like Zee’s. There are not enough foster families here in Alabama for the typical kids who come in for foster care, so you can imagine how difficult it is to place the ones who need a little, or a lot, of extra care. If you would like to know more about becoming a foster parent and serving special needs kids in your community, please contact your local county DHR. The need is great, and the job is not easy, but these kids are totally worth it.

For a while after his open heart surgeries, his care was pretty complicated, but his little body began to heal and he got stronger and stronger. The progress he made in the months following his surgery was truly remarkable. He continued to grow and heal so much so that he no longer required oxygen and only needed the ventilator at night. On May 10, 2016 a judge confirmed what I had known in my heart all along. He was mine. My son – Zee Emmanuel Clark. The need is great When I met Zee, my eyes were opened to the great need for families who are willing to take on kids who have special and or medical needs. I learned that many children are basically abandoned at the hospital because their parents are unable or unwilling to care for their often difficult needs. In many cases, these children stay at the hospital as long as possible, but if no family is found for them, they are sent to a nursing home. I am certain that this would have been Zee’s fate had I not said yes, and I truly doubt that he would have lived.

Jenny Clark is mom to Aidan, Ella Mae, Jojo and Zee, plus an ever-changing number of foster kids. For more information about becoming a foster parent, visit You can also learn more about children here in Alabama (many of whom have special needs) who are waiting for their adoptive families to find them at

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book review

A Page in a Book



Books that are Worth the Wait One of the hardest things for children to learn isn’t words, numbers or colors. Most parents will agree that learning patience is one of the most challenging things for a kid to master. Whether it’s watching the clock for a play date, counting the days until vacation, or waiting anxiously for cookies to cool – kids know about patience. They just tend to have it in short supply. The following titles explore the art of patience (from both sides of the virtue), giving young readers a humorous perspective of the rewards of waiting.

Ready Rabbit Gets Ready

By Brenna Maloney (Viking / Penguin)


By Mary Sullivan (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) Awakened by the scent of something to eat, the pup springs from slumber and into action with just one thing on his mind...a treat. Following his nose, he finds his family toddler snacking on cereal. Maybe the cereal is his treat? He waits, but the cereal disappears into the little girl (and down the mouth of her toy shark). Trembling with anticipation, the pup goes through every room of the house of every family member in search of a treat. But a treat eludes him at every turn. Just when he’s about to lose his mind waiting for a treat, he hears the word he’s been waiting so long to hear. Capturing the nervous tension that comes with waiting for something special to happen, Sullivan’s less-than-patient pup promises to be a favorite picture book pal. 36 | birminghamparent | march 2017

When Momma’s voice calls through the bedroom door that it’s time to get ready, Ready Rabbit is getting a slow start. First, there are dreams that need dreaming. And there are toys that need to be played with. Momma’s voice keeps calling for him to get ready, as he moves toward getting dressed. But even choosing the right clothes (capes, sidekick masks, or underwear?) can slow the whole thing down. With every possible distraction and delay in the way, will Ready Rabbit ever be ready? An ideal illustration of patience from the other side, kids get a front row seat to the trials of parents who wait (and wait) for their kids to get ready to go.

I’ll Wait, Mr. Panda By Steve Antony (Scholastic)

Armed with apron, bowl and spoon, Mr. Panda is clearly getting ready to cook something special. His curious friends are quick to inquire about what Mr. Panda is making. As he tells each friend that it’s a surprise and they must wait and see, every friend declares they will not wait and leaves. But as each impatient friend walks away, a small penguin chimes in with “I’ll wait, Mr. Panda.” The reader and the penguin are in for a big surprise indeed, when Mr. Panda’s effort produces an enormous reward for great patience. | 37

heart to heart


sponsored by

Serve the Heart Guild of Birmingham to Benefit the American Heart Association

The Heart Guild of Birmingham was founded in 1988 to create an annual gala called the Birmingham Heart Ball, with proceeds benefiting the American Heart Association. This year, the Birmingham Heart Ball will be celebrating its 30th anniversary. Thanks in part to the Guild’s dedication and service, the Birmingham Heart Ball has raised over $16 million for educational programs and research over the past 30 years, and they hope to continue growing the event year after year.  Today, the Guild has grown to over 200 members. One key role of the Guild is the leadership of their teen auxiliary group called the Sweetheart Guild. There are currently more than 125 members made of up high school girls who are dedicated to the American Heart Association’s mission to build healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke.  Sweethearts are required to volunteer 25 service hours, and each year one Sweetheart is recognized for having the most community service hours amongst the group. Last year the group had more than 5,000 cumulative hours of community service. The Sweethearts also have the chance to apply for a college scholarship through the organization based on their service.

“The Sweethearts are a group of young ladies that are trying to balance the importance of faith, family and service in their normal high school life. They understand the value of giving back to their community,” says Suzy Baker, director of the Sweetheart Guild. Baker and other Heart Guild members say the Sweethearts have been instrumental in helping with various fundraising events hosted by the Heart Guild and the American Heart Association. The teen volunteers participate in the Heart Guild’s holiday luncheon fashion show, raising money for the American Heart Association, and they volunteer on key projects for the organization’s fundraisers year-round. The Sweethearts say it’s an excellent way for them to make an impact on the biggest health risk our community faces while having fun. Many of the Sweethearts even have a personal connection to cardiovascular diseases. “Both of my grandfathers have suffered from heart disease. It makes me proud to be doing my part in the fight against heart disease by volunteering for the Sweethearts,” Kara Schaffers, a junior and Sweetheart member, says. “It’s fun while also helping others.” Kara received the award for the top sophomore community service hours last year. She has served

on the Sweethearts since she was a freshman in high school. Her mother says she loves seeing her daughter following in her footsteps volunteering with the American Heart Association. “It makes me proud to see Kara and other girls like her advocating for the American Heart Association’s mission. Heart disease affects our family so personally, and I know my father likely wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the American Heart Association. He went in for a routine physical when he was 48, and they found blockages in his heart that led to a 6-way bypass surgery. Now he’s almost 77 and doing well. My brother also had CHD, and I’m so excited that both he and my dad will be able to attend the ball this year as survivors,” Karen, Kara’s mom and Heart Guild’s Heart Ball Chair, says. The Birmingham Heart Ball continues to be recognized as a premier fundraising event in the community and in the top 10 Heart Balls nationally. The Birmingham Heart Ball is supported by its Signature Sponsor, Wells Fargo, and Mission Champion, ProAssurance. The 30th Anniversary Birmingham Heart Ball honorees are Dr. and Mrs. Derrill and Cameron Crowe. It will be held on Saturday, March 4 at Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum. Visit to learn more.


Doctor and Mrs. Derrill and Cameron Crowe HOSTED BY THE HEART GUILD OF BIRMINGHAM T h a n k y o u t o D r. a n d M r s . D e r r i l l a n d C a m e ro n C ro w e a n d t o a l l s p o n s o r s and volunteers for your support of the American Heart Association mission. We a p p re c i a t e a l l t h a t y o u ’ v e d o n e t o m a k e t h e 3 0 t h A n n i v e r s a r y H e a r t B a l l a s u c c e s s . SIGNATURE SPONSOR

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Planning a Graduation Trip

By Lynn Grisard Fullman

Parents of high school graduates likely play over and over in their heads a bit of wisdom they often heard when calming an infant or chasing a toddler: The days creep; the years fly. It happens just that way. One minute you’re rocking a baby, and in what seems a fleeting second you’re ordering a graduation gown – and planning a celebration trip. Today’s grads often mark the milestone by packing their bags and setting sail (often literally) into a whole new world. And just as reaching for the diploma took years of planning, outlining a graduation trip takes a bit of know-how, also. Jennifer and Bill McMahon’s son Reed and seven friends will fly to Jamaica the day following their graduation from Vestavia Hills High School. Along with two sets of parents serving as chaperones, the boys plan four days at Beaches Negril, the same resort where the McMahon’s daughter Lindsey enjoyed her graduation trip three years ago. “Her positive experience with the all-inclusive resort was a great way to do a senior trip,” Jennifer McMahon observed, adding that her family worked through a travel agent familiar with the Caribbean and Jamaica. “We wanted to know that if any problems 40 | birminghamparent | march 2017

occurred upon arrival in Jamaica or during their stay, there was a go-to person to handle any issues with the resort.” Reed’s trip will cost about $1,500. Two local travel agents have shared their experiences, advice and knowledge to help parents plan for that long-awaited, well-earned excursion. A travel consultant with Classic Travel Connection, Denise Alvarez has been in the business six years with three years’ experience planning graduation trips. Irene Sauger, CEO and founder of Vacation Guru, has spent more than eight years as a travel planner with six years including graduation trips. Both agree that planning ahead – months in advance – is key for the getaways that, according to their experience, are planned by groups of individuals with parents initiating contact. Their advice follows: What is the typical group size? Alvarez: I have had from 20 in a group to almost 100. Sauger: Most groups I work with want to keep it very small with eight to 16 people, plus chaperones.  

What do you advise as far as length of a grad trip? Alvarez: Three days, four nights.

Sauger: The duration of the trip is dependent upon the destination. I wouldn’t advise less than four nights when traveling to the Caribbean/Mexico. You always have to consider that the first and the last days are travel days. If choosing somewhere like Hawaii or Europe, there are time changes to take into consideration in addition to longer travel days.  

What is the biggest mistake most grads make when requesting help with planning their trip? Alvarez: Usually I get with a mom and give her details, then I send out an email to the group so I don’t know or hear of mistakes. Sauger: The biggest mistake is not using a travel agent or not trusting the travel agent they are using. The reason you come to a travel agent is for their expertise and first-hand knowledge. It makes things very difficult when guests go searching online while the travel agent is doing the research for

you. When an expert is making suggestions, there are specifics they are taking into consideration. A good travel agent is going to have your best interest as their priority.

Sauger: Most are paid for by the parents. Mostly because the trip needs to be paid in full between 45 to 60 days prior to travel. Which is usually long before graduation.  

Any money-saving tips?

Anyplace that would be an undesirable destination for a grad trip?

Alvarez: The more in the room, the less expensive. Some resorts will put four in a room max and some will only put three max. Check flights around Memorial Day. Sauger: Being flexible is the best way to take advantage of savings. There are sales, charter flights and special offers, but they are specific to locations, length of trip and dates of travel.

Are most trips coed or not? Alvarez: I have booked both. Some girls want to keep it a girls’ trip, some boys want to keep it a boys’ trip and some just want everyone to go. Sauger: I find that the majority of requests are not coed.

Do most grads include adults/parents on their trips? Alvarez: Yes, adults/parents have to go on the trip. The resorts or cruise line requires it. Sauger: I will not book a graduation trip outside the United States without at least one set of parents/adults traveling with the grads. They may all be 18 years old but being in a foreign country is not the same as being in the United States. Cruises have a minimum age; the lead guest must be at least 25 years of age.

What is the typical, per-person price range for a grad trip? Alvarez: I book a wide range of budgets. Cruises are generally less, ranging from $500 to $1,000 per person, and I have booked trips up to $1,500 per person. Whatever my clients’ budget is, I work to find something in their budget. Sauger: The typical price range for people who don’t mind what category room they will be in would be $1,000 to $1,500 for a four-night stay, including airfare to a reputable all-inclusive resort. Cruises tend to run the same, but (people) may decide to drive to the port to avoid airfare costs. There are lower price points, but always remember you get what you pay for.

Any idea how grads pay for their trips? Alvarez: For most of the ones that I book, the parents pay. I have had a few where the kids pay their portion. Again, that’s hard to answer because I have to take a credit card. The parent may give me a credit card, but I don’t know if they are making their child pay them back or not.

Once you’re ready to plan a trip, find an agent and be prepared to answer several questions: • What general destinations interest you? • What travel dates are possible? • How long do you want the trip to last?

Alvarez: I usually book all-inclusive trips, which means the student/child should not have to get off the property.

• What is your budget?

Sauger: I feel a graduation trip should be special. I would avoid going someplace that is totally familiar to them. However, safety should be their No. 1 concern in the United States and abroad. A good travel agent knows safe zones.  

• Do you have a valid passport? It typically takes four to six weeks to get a passport. (Plan to apply no later than February prior to a May trip). The expiration date on the passport should not be less than six months beyond the travel date.

Do most grad trips include air or are some within driving distance? Alvarez: The ones that I book require air because I mostly book the Caribbean. When I book a cruise, some fly and some drive. Sauger: There are places that are within driving distance. Some cruise ports are also within driving distance but most adventures are going to require air. Southwest generally has great prices on flights.  

Many parents are surely haunted by Natalee Holloway’s story. Any tips/ comforts to help avoid such a tragedy? Alvarez: I always tell the parents/students that they are on an all-inclusive property, and they should not have any reason to leave it. If they go on an excursion, I book it for them. Someone with the company comes to pick them up at the resort and drops them off at the resort. I always tell them to never walk around alone….even the boys. Sauger: This is a very difficult subject to address. Since Natalee Holloway’s story, there are not any parents in our area open to Aruba as an option. Here are some tips that I give to my clients prior to travel: Never leave a resort unless it is a scheduled excursion with transportation included; have an adult with you when you leave your resort; never, ever, ever go anywhere alone. Going to an all-inclusive resorts really helps with the safety factor. Your ground transportation to/from the resort/airport is included. Once you are on resort property, there is security in place. For information on grad trip possibilities, contact Denise Alvarez (205-873-0236 or or Irene Sauger (205-821-1486 or

Lynn Grisard Fullman is a Birmingham-based, professional writer.

• Can you be flexible with the airport you can use?

Travel agents Irene Sauger and Denise Alvarez offer several suggestions for grad trip destinations: • Cruising from New Orleans can save on airfare. Ditto for some parts of Florida. A cruise from New Orleans can be as low as $500 per person, and a cruise out of Florida can be the same plus flight. • All-inclusive resorts in Jamaica, Mexico and the Dominican Republic typically include all meals and snacks, all beverages (including smoothies and lattes), activities and entertainment. They make traveling stress-free. They are like cruise ships that don’t move and don’t nickel and dime you for extras. Spa services and excursions are just about the only items that are not included. Most of your gratuities are included. Many all-inclusive resorts have great water parks on property. In Riviera, Mexico, you can experience a moderately priced, all-inclusive resort that not only has a great water park but you can experience many eco-features without having to leave the resort. • Europe is going to end up being a lot pricier than the Caribbean. However, taking advantage of a guided tour itinerary is a great way to experience many different locations during one trip. Guided tours include most meals and ground transportation. • Cruises are always popular with graduates. The Carnival Fantasy is now sailing out of Mobile with four- or five-night itineraries. Mobile has a lot of culture and history within walking distance of the cruise port. There are many great options for pre- and post-cruise stays in Mobile. • Other ports you can consider: New Orleans, Tampa, Port Canaveral and Jacksonville, FL. These are all within driving distance, however Miami and Fort Lauderdale will have far more options for cruising. • Disney World and Universal Studios in Orlando have hotels located on property with meal-plan options. You can experience it all without having to drive anywhere. | 41

ask the specialist

sponsored by

Eating Healthy on Vacation By Dr. Marie Pittman

Who says eating veggies can’t be fun? Answer: Toddlers, Young Kids and Teenagers. Does this sound like your family? This makes eating healthy while traveling on vacation that much harder. Here are a few tips to help you on your next vacation. TIP #1 Dr. Marie Pittman is a physician at Brookwood Baptist Health Primary Care – Oak Mountain,

No junk food during the car ride. While traveling, it’s easy to get sucked into buying snacks at convenience stores or rest stops. Try preparing snacks such as sandwiches, trail mix, pretzels, chopped raw vegetables or fresh fruit in a small cooler for when you’re filling up at the gas station or your kids just want a snack. Another option is going to the grocery store instead of fast food restaurants and going on a lunch picnic. If you have to go to a fast food restaurant, pick at least one healthy option for your child to eat even if that comes down to choosing milk or water over juice or a soda for them to drink. TIP #2 Shop while you’re on vacation - at a local grocery store. When you arrive, plan to go to a local grocery store and stock up on healthy snacks for the hotel and to take with you while out for the day.  Let your child or children to pick the “Snack of the

42 | birminghamparent | march 2017

Day.” Give each child their own day improvising if there is an odd number of days giving “Snack of the Day” honors to mom, dad or their favorite cartoon character TIP #3 Plan ahead. When going on vacation, it’s easy to fall into the often unhealthy trap of thinking it will be easy to grab something nearby on your commute to the next museum or during the 30 minutes you have until it’s time for your next activity to start. This is usually when fast food comes in handy. Therefore, I recommend planning every meal down to snacks and lunches. Look for local and convenient healthy restaurants where you can still get the authenticity of the city you’re in without resorting to fast food. TIP #4 Conquering dinner. Sharing meals will help cut down on portion sizes. If you have a family of four, you can usually split two or three entrees as standard serving sizes at restaurants can usually feed two people. Even if there aren’t any healthy options, eating less of an unhealthy option is always better. 

Safe travels!

M OP A E R N C IN H G 30 !


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For dates, hours, tickets or to reserve a lodging or camping package, visit

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MARKETPLACE Learn about the weather with Charles Ghigna’s new board books!






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Look for the family favorites award winners in the June 2017 issue of Birmingham Parent. You must vote in at least 20 categories for your vote to count, and if you wish to be entered in the random drawing, we must receive your complete contact info. Information may be shared with prize sponsors.

.....SUMMER CAMP 2017

Camp Counselor:

Enroll in Birmingham-Southern College’s


Conservatory of Fine and Performing Arts

By Gayla Grace

Teens can begin working as camp counselors during their high school years and continue during college as summer jobs if they choose. Some camps offer the opportunity for younger teens to begin as counselors-in-training during their junior high years. Our 13-year-old son will be working as a JCT (junior counselor-in-training) for two weeks this summer at a camp close to home and can’t wait to get started. A camp counselor job has a lot to offer your teen other than just an income. Here are a few life skills your teen will learn as a camp counselor or counselor-in-training: 1.  RESPONSIBILITY. A camp counselor is assigned a group of kids and asked to look after their needs and help manage their schedule. Responsibilities include ensuring they’re at activities on time, helping with needs as they arise such as minor first aid or sunscreen application, playing with kids at activities, and being a friend on a bad day or a homesick moment. Teens gain maturity as they help young campers with needs that arise.   2.  ENDURANCE. Camp schedules are packed with activities to allow the kids opportunity to experience as much fun as possible in a short amount of time.  Camp counselors must keep up, even on days they feel tired or unmotivated. Counselor Jamie Newman says, “The schedule is exhausting-you have to learn how to endure long days and persevere through exhaustion.”      3. SELFLESSNESS. The teen years typically include spells of sour attitudes and selfish behaviors. A camp counselor role forces a teen to remove his self-indulgent attitude and replace it with empathy and understanding for others. It shows teens how to put others’ needs before their own, a valuable life skill that many teens never acquire.   4. RELATIONSHIP SKILLS. Camp counselors are thrown together with other counselors they don’t know, some whom they might not like. They’re forced to learn how to get along with others while working toward a common goal. Meaningful relationships are built as counselors work alongside one another day after day.   5. OVERCOME FEARS. Camp is all about new adventures, for campers and counselors both.  Newman says, “We were constantly pushed outside our comfort zone. I had to encourage kids to be adventuresome and try new things, which meant I had to do that too. Sometimes I felt ridiculous but I had to let go of my pride.” Counselors gain self respect as they overcome their fears and push themselves outside their comfort levels.   6. HUMILITY. Camp counselors learn how to work under someone else’s leadership and follow directions. Counselors must do what’s asked of them in taking care of kids and following a pre-determined schedule.   7. SELF-ESTEEM. What a great feeling to know you’re investing in others!  That’s the feeling a camp counselor experiences daily at camp. Whether it’s one week or ten weeks, camp counselors go home knowing they’ve made a difference in young children’s lives and that’s something to be proud of!   If your teen needs a job that builds life skills, consider a camp counselor position. Camps of all varieties fill their staff with teenagers that offer fun and camaraderie to young campers. Match the interests of your teen-sports, music, education, etc.-with an appropriate camp and watch your teen blossom. As camp counselors, teens gain valuable experience that rewards them with lifelong lessons and memories in the process. Gayla Grace is a freelance journalist and mom to five who sends her kids to camp every summer.

Private lessons in piano, voice, violin, guitar, band, and much more. Preschool classes also available.

Music and Theatre Camp 2017 June 12-16 K5-5th grade



New This Year! CIT (Counselor-in-Training) Program for Rising 6th-Rising 11th graders. Contact Gabe McCool at or (205) 956-9731 ext 105 Located on Old Leeds Rd. (I-459 exit at Grants Mill Rd)







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Chattanooga, Tennessee



Unique, Unique,Affordable, Affordable,Residential Residential Marine MarineScience ScienceHigh HighSchool SchoolClass Class at atthe theDauphin DauphinIsland IslandSea SeaLab Lab Register RegisterToday Today 251-861-2141 x7515 x7515 251-861-2141

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Family Dive Club offers PADI SCUBA Certification and fun for the whole family through SCUBA camps Email (ages 12-17), Kids’ Ocean Camp (ages 8-11), parent dive classes and a family dive trip to the Bahamas. or call 205-249-2267 for more info.


If you are looking for a unique, memorable, and meaningful birthday celebration, then consider having a drumming party! John Scalici is an internationally known drumming facilitator who can add meaning and value to your child’s birthday. Several options are available, so call for details. Program length is 30-45 minutes.

205-222-6998 46 | birminghamparent | march 2017

SUMMER CAMP 2017.....

Summer Camps ART


Art Studio for Teens (grades 6–8) June 5–9, 9 a.m.–12 p.m. Bulldog Art Camp (grades 1–5) June 26–30, 9 a.m.–2 p.m.


Adventures in Music Camp: Piano (grades 1–12) June 12–16, 8 a.m.–5 p.m. Adventures in Music Camp: Piano and Voice (grades 1–12) July 10–14, 8 a.m.–5 p.m. All Aboard for Music Camp (ages 3–6) July 17–21, 9–11:30 a.m.


Writing Camp I (ages 11–15) June 19–23, 9 a.m.–12 p.m. Writing Camp II (ages 11–15) July 24–28, 9 a.m.–12 p.m.

Registration and information: . 205-726-2739

cheerleading • ropes course • ARTS & CRAFTS • soccer • sports • nature • drama

Recognized as one of the South’s favorite Christian summer camps for girls! Welcome to an award winning camp experience…


Just off DeSoto Parkway on top of Lookout Mountain in Mentone, Alabama…nestled in a bend of Little River. Adventure, inspiration, character & confidence-building are just a few of the benefits that go hand-in-hand with the activity choices. Riverview’s Christian emphasis & exciting programs are appreciated by both parents & campers! Call 800-882-0722 or visit for a FREE DVD & Information packet

Only 2 short hours from Birmingham 1 & 2 week sessions! Mother-Daughter Weekends also Available

Dr. Larry and Susan Hooks, Owners/Directors Donna Bares, Assistant Director Accredited by American Camping Association Members of Christian Camping Conference Asso.

Check us out online at

swimming • beach volleyball • archery • riding • basketball • golf • much more!

chorus • gymnastics • Dance • canoeing • tennis • GOLF

Exciting Traditional Camp for girls ages 6 to 16!

Camp Juliette Low On Lookout Mountain in Cloudland, GA CJL is an independent, residential summer camp for girls ages 7-17. 1 & 2 week sessions June 4—July 29, 2017

     



Ropes course


  Climbing wall  Pottery/crafts  Fire-building  Platform tents 

Archery Pool Hiking Drama For more information or to register online:

770-428-1062 Preparing Girls for Confident Living and Leadership Since 1922 | 47

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Calendar sponsored by

MARCH March means spring is right around the corner. Daylight


savings time begins March 12 – be sure to “spring forward” one hour – and the “official” date of the first day of spring is March 20. This month, there are lots of outdoor activities, from hiking to festivals to 5k/fun run events to raise money for Always a very popular event, Birmingham Parent’s Special Needs Expo will be held at 10am-3pm at the Pelham Civic Complex on March 4. It’s a free exhibition where families can learn about products, support groups, recreational activities, healthcare, therapy and many other services for children and adults with special needs – and have a little fun, too!


worthy causes. Get the whole family outside and start a new tradition of activity together. Wear green on St. Patrick’s Day March 17, and enjoy spring break from school near the end of the month! If you’re staying at home for the break, check out this month’s events and attractions for lots of family fun.

The 19th Annual Arbor Day Celebration, presented by the Hoover Beautification Board, will be held 9:30-11:30am March 4 at Aldridge Gardens. Free trees for Hoover residents, a formal Arbor Day ceremony, a ceremonial tree planting and a recognition of Hoover Schools’ 4th-grade Arbor Day essay contest winners. 205-682-8019, www.


There is nothing more patriotic than listening to the excellent bands and choruses of our Armed Forces. At 4pm, March 26, The U.S. Army Field Band & Soldiers’ Chorus performs at the UAB Alys Stephens Center. The band and soldiers’ chorus is the largest of the U.S. Army Field Band’s four performing components, founded in 1946. Don’t miss this chance. Tickets are FREE, but you must reserve them by contacting 205-975-2787 or




at the Birmingham Museum of Art


ARTSBMA.ORG Art Camp is sponsored by the UAB School of Medicine. | 49


Calendar sponsored by

There are several 5K/fun runs this month, all to benefit worthy causes. Check the calendar for details. 1 WEDNESDAY UAB Music Student Recital 12:20-1:20pm, Mary Culp Hulsey Recital Hall. Featuring advanced students in the Department of Music. 205-934-7376, www.uab. edu/cas/music. FREE.

3 FRIDAY Birmingham Ballet: Cinderella 7:30pm, Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex Theatre. Premiering a favorite classic! Tickets, 800-745-3000, www.

4 SATURDAY Pepper Place Market 9am-noon, 2829 2nd Ave. S, inside the Pepper Place Pop-Up Shop.


19th Annual Arbor Day Celebration 9:30-11:30am, Aldridge Gardens, Hoover. Presented by the Hoover Beautification Board, this event features FREE trees for

Hoover residents, a formal Arbor Day ceremony, a ceremonial tree planting and a recognition of Hoover Schools’ 4th-grade Arbor Day essay contest winners. 205682-8019, www.aldridgegardens. com. Birmingham Parent’s Special Needs Expo 10am-3pm, Pelham Civic Complex. A free, day-long exhibition where families can learn about products, support groups, recreational activities, healthcare, therapy and many other services for children and adults with special needs – and have a little fun, too! Lego Club 10-11:30am, North Shelby Library. Families welcome to drop in and build spectacular creations, which will then go on display in the children’s department. All ages welcome.

Chili Cook-Off 10:30am-3pm, Brookwood Village. An event benefitting the Exceptional Foundation in Homewood, a non-profit organization where individuals with special needs can enjoy social and recreational activities. This fun, quirky, outdoor party offers food, drink, live music and more. Tickets, 205-870-0776, Children 12 and under admitted free. Birmingham Ballet: Cinderella 2pm, 7:30pm, Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex Theatre. Premiering a favorite classic! Tickets, 800-745-3000, Southeastern Outings Evening Walk 7pm, Hillsboro Trail, Helena. An easy four-mile walk, wide, paved with a few short hills. Well-behaved, carefully supervised children 7-up welcome. After the walk, go for frozen yogurt

at Yogurt Mountain in Hoover. Depart 7pm from Helena Middle School. Shannon McDevitt, 205789-9815.

5 SUNDAY Birmingham Ballet: Cinderella 7:30pm, Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex Theatre. Premiering a favorite classic! Tickets, 800-745-3000, www.

6 MONDAY Knight Chess Tournament 5:30-7pm, Homewood Library. A monthly chess tournament to learn strategy and have fun! Preschool to 12th grade. 205332-6619.

7 TUESDAY UAB Music Guest Artist Recital 7:30-8:30pm, Mary Culp Hulsey Recital Hall. Featuring clarinetist Sarunas Jankauskas. 205-9347376, FREE.

PLEASE NOTE: Events may change after publication deadline; please phone ahead to confirm important information. The deadline for submitting calendar items for the April 2017 print issue is March 6. Mail calendar items to: Calendar, Birmingham Parent, P.O. Box 326, Helena, AL 35080; fax to 987-7600; e-mail to; or enter directly to the online calendar at Entries added online after the print deadline will not appear in the print version. Information cannot be accepted over the phone. Birmingham Parent publishes a calendar 11 times a year. January events are included in the December issue. Guidelines: Birmingham Parent’s calendar is intended to be a resource and service to the community and our readers. Events which are open to the public, fundraisers, free classes, etc., are events that may be included in our monthly calendar. We reserve the right to reject any event or listing due to rules or space restrictions. For questions regarding calendar entries, call 987-7700 or e-mail 50 | birminghamparent | march 2017


Calendar sponsored by

8 WEDNESDAY Family Law Reform Educational Day and Rally 10am-3pm, Alabama Statehouse, Montgomery. Individuals who want to change child custody practices and protect children’s relationships with both parents invited to participate. Hot dogs, chips and bottled water provided by the Isaak Law Firm. Bring signs for the noon rally. Information, schedule, FamilyDay@ Homeschool Hour Jr. Gets Coding 1:30-2:30pm, Homewood Library. Learn about coding with non-computer coding games and activities. No registration or laptop required. Suggested for ages 10-under. 205-332-6619. FREE.

9 THURSDAY UAB Music Chamber Concert 7-8pm, Alys Stephens Center. Featuring violinist Julia Sakharova and pianist Yakov Kasman. 205-934-7373, cas/music. FREE.

11 SATURDAY Village 2 Village 10K 7:30am, Lane Parke, Mountain Brook. Fun-filled run through the beautiful neighborhoods and villages of Mountain Brook. Presented by Schaeffer Eye Center, this run unveils an exciting new course, and finish line/after-party held in the new Lane Parke development. Live bands, carnival games, kids area, refreshments and more. Benefitting the Village 2 Village 4 Vision, providing eye exam services and glasses to economically disadvantaged communities on behalf of registrants. Information, signup, 205-871-3779, Pepper Place Market 9am-noon, 2829 2nd Ave. S, inside the Pepper Place Pop-Up Shop.

Owens House Superhero 5K & 1 Mile 9am-1pm, Oak Mountain State Park. Register by March 6 for this fun event benefitting The Owens House, the Shelby County Children’s Advocacy Center, Inc. Costumes encouraged! Costume contest, free family fun fest with games, vendors, inflatables and more. Run as a team or individually. Lunch included for runners, $2 per person lunch for non-runners. Register, SpringFest 10am-2pm; 5pm, United Cerebral Palsy of Greater Birmingham’s Hand in Hand Early Learning Program facility. Food, tickets for games available at event; silent auction. Family-friendly! 205944-3916. FREE admission. Holi Festival 11am-3pm, Birmingham Museum of Art. Holi is the Indian celebration of color. Enjoy classical Indian and Bollywood-style dancing, music, food, storytelling, art-making and gallery exploration. The day ends with a huge celebration outside to play Holi, the throwing of powdered colors. Wear clothes you don’t mind having to wash! Information, http://artsbma. org/event/holi-festival-2/. Southeastern Outings Dayhike 1pm, Oak Mountain State Park. Enjoy a moderate 4-mile walk in the woodlands. Parts of this hike may be off the color-coded trails. There will be some ups and downs. Well-behaved, properly supervised children age eight and up able to walk the distance welcome. Share an adventure! Bring a friend. Depart 1pm from the park office parking lot. Please bring $5/person ($2.00 seniors) park admission fee plus a drink. Edd Spencer, 205-991-1045. Civil War Living History 8am-2pm, Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park. 205-4775711, Taste of Teal Gala 6-10pm, The Wynfrey Hotel. The Laura Crandall Brown Foundation hosts this gala that benefits gynecological cancer research, awareness and patient support. Seated dinner, drinks, live/silent auction, casino games, music. Tickets, information, 205-4922453, TasteofTeal.



The Celtic Tenors 7:30pm, The Library Theatre, Hoover, see March 16.

18 SATURDAY Pepper Place Market 9am-noon, 2829 2nd Ave. S, inside the Pepper Place Pop-Up Shop. www.pepperplacemarket. com.

14 TUESDAY Pi Day and Einstein’s Birthday McWane Science Center. Honor Albert Einstein and the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. Awesome public programs and educational shows!

15 WEDNESDAY Homeschool Hangout – Turtles of Alabama 1-2pm, North Shelby Library. Ages 7-12. Registration required. 205-439-5504.

16 THURSDAY Homeschool Hour – Raptors of Alabama 2-3pm, Homewood Library. The Alabama Wildlife Center will bring several of their feathered friends! Suggested ages 10-up. Online registration required at www.homewoodpubliclibrary. org. FREE. The Celtic Tenors 7:30pm, The Library Theatre, Hoover. With six albums to their credit, the internationally-touring music group has established themselves as the most successful classical crossover artists to emerge from Ireland. Tickets, information, 205-444-7888,



Southeastern Outings Dayhike 10am, Lake Guntersville State Park. Moderate hike on the trails. Pack a picnic lunch and head out for a day. Well-behaved, carefully supervised children age 8 and up welcome. Optional dinner after. No charge for park admission. Depart 10am from the Kmart Green Springs building. Randall Adkins, 205-317-6969. Dr. Seuss’ Birthday Bash 10:30-11:15am, Homewood Library. Born on March 2, 1904, Dr. Seuss is a beloved author! Snacks, crafts and more! FREE.

19 SUNDAY Mysteries of Bird Migration 1:30pm refreshments, 2pm program, Alabama Wildlife Center, Oak Mountain State Park. Also hosted by the Birmingham Audubon Society, this program conducted by Anne G. Miller will include an informal nature walk, weather permitting. Bring your binoculars and camera! FREE after park admission. Southeastern Outings Wildflower Walk 2pm, Wildwood Wildflower Preserve, Homewood. Southeastern Outings will join Freshwater Land Trust, host of the event. Enjoy a two to three-hour moderate hike; wear hiking boots and wear long pants to protect from poison ivy and undergrowth. Carefully supervised, well-behaved children 6-up welcome. Depart 2pm from the parking lot of the medical building at 1 Lakeshore Drive. Jeff Drummond, 205-417-2777 x106. Alabama Symphony Youth Orchestra Side by Side 3pm, Alys Stephens Center. The Alabama Symphony Orchestra and its youth orchestra unite for an afternoon of music. Adults $10, 12-under, $7. 205-975-2787,




ASFA Tour for Prospective Students 3:30pm, Alabama School of Fine Arts, 1800 Rev. Abraham Woods, Jr. Blvd. Take a tour of the school and learn about the application process for the 2017-2018 school year. ASFA is a tuition-free, public school. Admission by audition only. 205-252-9241, www.


Calendar sponsored by

Neuroscience Café: Coping with Macular Degeneration 6:30-8pm, Hoover Library. Kristina Visscher, PhD, assistant professor of neurobiology and Dawn DeCarlo, OD, director of the UAB Center for Low Vision Rehabilitation, present this program. FREE.

UAB Music Guest Artist Concert 7:30-8:30pm, Mary Culp Hulsey Recital Hall. Percussion duo Escape Ten performs. 205934-7376, FREE.



Birmingham SCI Café 6-8pm, John’s City Diner. Interact with researchers and enthusiasts from diverse science fields.



52 | birminghamparent | march 2017

26 SUNDAY The U.S. Army Field Band & Soldiers’ Chorus 4pm, Alys Stephens Center. The band and soldiers’ chorus is the largest of the U.S. Army Field Band’s four performing components. Founded in 1946, this elite, 65-member instrumental ensemble has performed in all 50 states and 30 foreign countries, numerous presidential inaugural parades and diplomatic missions overseas. Reserve your FREE tickets by contacting 205-975-2787 or ascboxofc@


Pepper Place Market Saturdays 9-noon

Pepper Place Market 9am-noon, 2829 2nd Ave. S, inside the Pepper Place Pop-Up Shop.

Rumpshaker 5K and 1-Mile Fun Run 8-11am, Regions Field. A new venue and a new race course! Help promote awareness about colorectal cancer, grant funds to fight and treat it and provide hope for survivors and those fighting the disease. Family-friendly, fun event! Registration, information, www.

Sensory Storytime 10-10:30am, North Shelby Library. A snackfree storytime for children with special needs with caregiver support, featuring fun picture books and songs, along with fine and gross motor movement activities. Ages 3-up. 205439-5504.


Calendar sponsored by

Aldridge Botanical Gardens 3530 Lorna Road, Hoover. 205-682-8019,

Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame 1631 Fourth Ave. N., Birmingham. 205-254-2731,

Alabama School of Fine Arts


1800 Rev. Abraham Woods, Jr. Blvd.

2150 Richard Arrington Blvd. N., Birmingham. 323-6665,

Alabama Wildlife Center Baby Bird Season. From March 15 to September 15, the AWC is open from 8am-6pm every day for bird intake, and open to visitors from 9am to 5pm as long as the park is open to visitors. Visitors can observe the care of Alabama native wild bird patients in the nurseries, solarium and raptor flight cages via camera monitors or one-way glass viewing windows. FREE admission after paid entrance to Oak Mountain State Park. 100 Terrace Drive, Pelham. 205-663-7930.

Albert L Scott Alabaster Public Library Story Times: Tunes & Tales: Wednesdays at 3:30pm in Library Meeting Room, all ages Toddler Tales: Fridays at 10:30am in the Library Meeting Room, 2 and 3 year olds 100 9th Street NW, Alabaster, AL, 35007. 205-664-6822,

American Village Highway 119, Montevallo. 205-665-3535,

Barber Motorsports Park 6040 Barber Motorsports Parkway, Leeds. 205-298-9040,

Birmingham Botanical Gardens When visiting the Gardens, be sure to download the treasure map to take with you! www. 2612 Lane Park Road, Birmingham. 205-414-3900,

Birmingham Children’s Theatre 1001 19th St. North, Birmingham, AL, 35203, 205-458-8181,

Birmingham Civil Rights Institute “The Women Gather,” BCRI’s annual Women’s History Month program that features and honors women via dance, spoken word, poetry and music. 6pm, March 17. ¡NUEVOlution! Latinos in the New South. This large-scale, bilingual, multi-dimensional, interactive exhibition uses personal stories to examine the complex stories of Latinos in the South. The exhibition is the product of a three-year collaboration led by Levine Museum of the New South (LNS) (Charlotte, NC) in partnership with the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and the Atlanta History Center. Through May 31. 16th St. N., Birmingham. 205328-9696,

Birmingham Museum of Art Bart’s Art Cart! Free drop-in art program for kids and families features a different theme from galleries and art activity each month. Saturdays from 11am-1pm. Bart’s Books. A storytelling program 11am-noon March 18 for children ages 4-7. 2000 Rev. Abraham Woods Jr. Blvd., Birmingham. March’s book: Mama Panya’s Pancakes: A Village Tale from Kenya. 205-254-2565,

Birmingham Zoo In-park Special Attractions: Giraffe Feeding & Keeper Chat, Saturday & Sunday 11am-12pm & 2-3pm, $3. See Griffin, the first giraffe born in a North American accredited Zoo in 2014! Sea Lion Training, Daily 10am & 2pm Predator Zone, Saturday & Sunday 11:30am & 3:30pm

2630 Cahaba Road, Birmingham. 205-879-0409,

Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum 1919 Ninth St., Calera. 205-668-3435,

McWane Science Center Going Places. Planes! Trains! Rockets! Cars! Explore this exhibition and discover the technology of transportation. Fly a plane, ride a hovercraft, learn to fly an airship! Brain Awareness Week. A worldwide celebration of the brain that brings together scientists, families, schools and communities. Join UAB staff and graduate students for several activities. March 27-31. Member Mondays. Every Monday, McWane Science Center members receive extra perks while visiting! Includes a special gift for kids when checking in, 30 percent discount on gift shop purchases, $1 small popcorn at IMAX concession stand and a free members-only evening event each month. Also, on the second Monday of each month, McWane opens its doors from 5-8pm for its members. IMAX Movies: National Parks Adventure. Travel over exposed rock faces, down steep mountain cliffs and through other-worldly realms found within America’s most legendary outdoor places. Through March 31. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. In a time of conflict, a group of unlikely heroes band together to steal the plans to the Death Star, the Empire’s ultimate weapon of destruction. Extreme Weather. This movie takes you to the frontlines where few have gone. Travel

to the edge of 300-foot-tall glaciers collapsing to massive wildfires and more. Dream Big. This movie showcases engineering’s impressive impact on our world and our lives. From Dubai’s record-high skyscrapers to bridges soaring through clouds, experience the massive scale and forces of nature that challenge engineers. 200 19th St. N., Birmingham. 205-714-8300,

Moss Rock Preserve Preserve Parkway, Hoover. 205-739-7141,

Oak Mountain State Park 200 Terrace Drive, Pelham. 205-620-2520,

Roy Downs Calera Library Story Times: • Family Story Time: Tuesdays at 10am • Sweet Pea (0-2 years old): Thursdays at 9am • Calera Kids (3 and up): Thursdays at 10am Summer Reading Program: Tuesdays at 5:30pm 9700 Highway 25, Calera. 205-668-7200.

Ruffner Mountain Nature Center 1214 81st St. S., Birmingham. 205-833-8264,

Southern Museum of Flight 4343 73rd St. N., Birmingham. 205-833-8226,

Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park 12632 Confederate Parkway, McCalla. 205-477-5711,

Vulcan Park 1701 Valley View Drive, Birmingham. 205-933-1409, | 53


Alabama Sports Hall of Fame

poetry party

by Charles Ghigna

MY SECRET GARDEN A hidden path of cobble stones, A fairy sitting with two gnomes, A bird bath draped in mossy green, A whisper drifting from a stream, A marble fountain, a golden swan, Four tree frogs in a lily pond, An iron bench, a bronze sun dial Telling time with a shady smile, An arch of roses in full bloom, A bird house orange as the moon— Like an elf among the flowers, I could hide in here for hours. —Charles Ghigna

BLUEBELLS IN THE GARDEN Beyond the wall, Beyond the street, A shadow land Where dreams meet. A hidden cove of make-believe, A come-on-in and never leave, Beyond the bonds of neighborhood, A bluebell carpet in the wood. —Charles Ghigna

Garden Poems

I love the month of March. It makes me think of birds, butterflies, and flowers. It makes me think of gardens!

THE GARDEN OF READIN’ If you dare to try it, Tiptoe in and sit real quiet. Hold your breath and take a look, The garden fairy reads her book. See her little impish grin? Storytime will now begin.

Here in Birmingham we are lucky to be near so many beautiful gardens: The Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Aldridge Gardens, and others. Maybe you have a garden of your own! Here are a few garden poems about my favorite gardens.

NOW YOU TRY IT! Take a stroll through a nearby garden. What do you see? What do you hear? Write a poem about your favorite garden. 54 | birminghamparent | march 2017

—Charles Ghigna

For more poetry activities, visit the Father Goose website at Want to submit YOUR poems for publication? Parents, here are some magazines that publish poems written by children: • http://www.,


L E A R N I N G T H AT I T ’ S A C T U A L LY P O S S I B L E F O R T I M E T O S TA N D S T I L L .

Along this unexpected stretch of the softest sugar white sand and turquoise water the most amazing things can happen. / 877-341-2400


BECAUSE EVERYONE DESERVES TO FEEL AWESOME! The YMCA of Greater Birmingham believes that all kids deserve the opportunity to discover who they are and what they can achieve. That’s why, through the Y, millions of youth today are cultivating the values, skills and relationships that lead to positive behaviors, better health and educational achievement.


YMCA of Greater Birmingham

Birmingham Parent Magazine March 2017 Issue  

Read the March 2017 issue of Birmingham Parent, or view past issues. This issue includes our 2017 Special Needs Directory and more!

Birmingham Parent Magazine March 2017 Issue  

Read the March 2017 issue of Birmingham Parent, or view past issues. This issue includes our 2017 Special Needs Directory and more!