Directions Magazine June/July 2012

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June/July 2012 On The Cover: Miami Children’s Museum has a brand new event on Saturdays that has something for everyone!

Publisher/Editor Danny Gomez

Managing Editor Evelyn Vanegas

Contributing Writers Isabel Garcia Amy Kalas, MM, MT-BC Millie Martinez Suarez, M.S., C.C.C.

4 Letter from the Publisher 5 Talking Parent to Parent

How Journey of Dreams is making dreams come true

6 Spotlight

Alex Lamazares makes OrchidMania the prettiest cause in town

8 Bookstop Twitter: @Directions_Mag

Directions Magazine is published bimonthly by Directions Magazine, Inc. This magazine or any portion may not be reproduced in any form without written permission. This is a free publication distributed in South Florida. Reproduction of this magazine in whole or in part is not permitted. Directions Magazine is not responsible for any statements made by it’s advertisers or writers. We may not be responsible in any manner for omissions or errors or for any consequences arising from such.

10 Exploring Music Therapy

For Children and Adolescents with Special Needs

14 Blossoms

Filling the gap for therapeutic services

17 Does your child have a Communication Disorder? 20 Sensory Saturday (Cover Story)

Miami Children’s Museum takes a big step towards inclusion - and makes YOU a VIP

24 Walk the Talk for Epilepsy

Walking in step with The Epilepsy Foundation of Florida

2012 Directions Magazine™ June-July 2012



Life is constantly changing. So is our understanding of it. When we’re young, we see things for what they are at face value. As we grow, we realize that everything is inter-connected. In youth, almost everyone has the same idea of what their life will look like – a Hollywood love, a nice home, two-and-a-half kids – it’s what we find safe, because it’s predictable. Being a parent, however, can be unpredictable. For the parent of a child with special needs, almost nothing is predictable, and the ever-changing nature of their life quickly blossoms into something much more rewarding than predictability – perspective. When you allow fairy tale ideals and Hollywood stereotypes to fall away, you are left with an entire world of possibility, and unique new eyes to see what others could not. In the article “Exploring Music Therapy” by Amy Kalas, we see how sounds that you and I would consider ordinary and mundane, could mean a fantastic new approach to overcoming hurdles and accomplishing milestones. The music a child makes banging on pots and pans might seem like a clichéd annoyance that one might expect from a growing toddler, but Amy shows us how music can be used to help achieve non musical goals such as improving attention spans, motor skills, and communication. In April, we joined our partners at the Epilepsy Foundation of Florida in their Walk-the-Talk walkathon. Hundreds of people came out, not only to support loved ones, but also to espouse a strong and positive message: that every achievement, milestone, and breakthrough is something to be celebrated. Events like Walk-the-Talk show us that what matters most is not the disability, but your perspective of that disability, that will determine how far you can go. Change does not come easy. It is always difficult to remove yourself from the comforts of the known and delve into the unknown. Some say that ignorance is bliss. I believe knowledge is power. It is the responsibility of every sentient human being to maintain oneself perpetually informed to the best of one’s abilities, but, in order to make the best use of this information, one must keep an open mind. With a different perspective, the sky is the limit. Enjoy, Danny Gomez Publisher/Editor


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stablished in 1986, Parent to Parent of Miami is a not for profit organization that provides information, peer support, educational training, coaching, and advocacy to families of children and adults with disabilities. Our parent network is comprised of over 8,000 families throughout Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties. Inspired by the calls of over 3,000 families served every year, we started a planning committee to explore the options for this very important fundraiser. With one voice, we all said “the need for hope, help, and support in our community has never been greater; so we must all lend a helping hand”. With a compassionate team of employees, board members, and volunteers, we answered the call and Parent to Parent of Miami launched its Inaugural Journey of Dreams Benefit on November, 19th, 2004. So why Journey of Dreams? As parents of children with disabilities, we all have the dream that they will be successful, happy, and accepted by others in the community.

The journey is ongoing -different for parents, brothers, sisters, relatives and every family- but, when the dream is other professionals that work endlessly fulfilled, the possibilities are endless! every day to help students and families with their journey. Our Journey of Dreams would become the signature fundraising event to celebrate, Now that you know more about the recognize, and honor community purpose of this amazing fundraising members whose vision, leadership, event, we ask you to think about those and perseverance have significantly you know in the community that have contributed to improving the lives of made a difference in the life of a child or children and adults with disabilities and adult with a disability. Now is the time to their families. Individuals are honored in nominate an everyday hero! the following categories: Excellence in Family Advocacy (an individual dedicated So save the date and join us for our 8th to promoting policies and practices that Annual Journey of Dreams Benefit on strengthen family unity) and the IMPACT November 17, 2012, at the JW Marriott Award (bestowed upon an individual who for cocktails, a wonderful sit-down Inspires, Motivates, Promotes, Advocates dinner, and an extensive silent auction and, through Community involvement, which, is always the highlight of the became a Transformational leader). evening. Become a sponsor or buy tickets to enjoy this great event. Past honorees include: Carole Fox-Abbott (FDLRS-South), Dr. Michael Alessandri Proceeds from Journey of Dreams go (UM/NSU CARD), Betty Alonso directly to support the crucial work (Dade Community Foundation), Larry of Parent to Parent of Miami in our Forman (Comprehensive Rehabilitation community. Your sponsorship will help Consultants), Delia C. Garcia (FIU-Dean us ensure that children with disabilities College of Education), John Paul Jebian and their families continue to have access (teacher), Rosa Jones (FIU- VP Student to advocacy and support services at no Affairs), David Lawrence (The Children’s cost. Trust), Modesto Abety (The Children’s Trust), Kevin Mintz (Harvard student) For information or to help, please contact and Stephanie Mintz (advocate). 305-271-9797 or visit www.ptopmiami. org. Miami-Dade County is home to over 39,000 students with disabilities and every Parent to Parent of Miami - meeting the parent has a Journey of Dreams for each unique needs of families of children with of them. We know that there are many all types of disabilities! June-July 2012



By: Danny Gomez

Some people have a passion for a particular cause. Others have a passion for something they

love. Combining the two is exactly what OrchidMania has accomplished. Alex Lamazares, president of OrchidMania South Florida, has taken his love of orchids and turned it into a force for good. Below, we examine how the idea came about and how Alex, with the invaluable help of several volunteers, continues to raise money every year to help children born with AIDS. How did OrchidMania come into existence? In 1997, at the beginning of the year, I was approached by a friend, who is a local orchid grower, about the possibility of establishing a chapter of an already existing OrchidMania that had been in San Francisco for about 10 years. And that company was already a charitable cause? Yes. That was started by someone who read in a local paper that a local AIDS program was closing its doors because they didn’t have any money, so he sold his


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personal orchid collection to raise money and that’s how the idea came to be.

What pushed you to turn orchids into a cause? I decided that it was going to be a pretty way to get people involved into a subject that is otherwise taboo or intimidating to people. HIV and AIDS is not a cause that people take to. They only look at the ugly side of the disease and they don’t realize the people that are affected by it. So, I figured, if I incorporated something pretty, I could get more people interested in helping and being involved.

How did you learn about Project Cradle? Project Cradle has been in existence for quite some time, it’s the pediatric infectious disease program at the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine. In my research, in looking to fund different projects, I wanted to pay more attention to issues and projects related to children because, even though no one should, in any way, have to suffer the ailments of HIV and AIDS, children are, in my mind, innocent victims. They didn’t choose to go out and be promiscuous; they didn’t do anything wrong other than coming into this world. So, by doing that, I was trying to figure out a way to help someone who was really an innocent victim – not that anyone else is a guilty victim – but, in my research in looking for who should get the benefit of our work, I came across the program and the rest, as they say, is history. 15 years later. What inspired you to get involved with Project Cradle? There was an immense need for things that the government doesn’t provide for and they didn’t have the funds for. These kids, like all other kids, long to go to the beach, they long to have the same things that any other teenager or any other child would have. (Because of their illness and because of the fact that, for the most part, they come from underprivileged homes or

are orphaned, they don’t have access to those things that most children would take for granted. This way I can raise the money, take them to the beach, if their refrigerators break and they need to have it for their medication, we have the funds to be able to provide that for them.) Any need that they have that the government doesn’t provide for, we can hopefully raise enough money to cover. Why was it so important to you that this money would go specifically to organizations that had no pre-existing participation restrictions? It’s really simple: If the illness has no affliction restriction, why should the system be so that the assistance be restricted? The illness doesn’t discriminate, it doesn’t have any restrictions, it affects everyone in the same way. If everyone can be affected, why should only some people benefit? It was very simple. What is your ultimate goal for OrchidMania and for the cause behind it? To close the doors because the illness is finished. With the help of organizations like OrchidMania, people like Alex and OrchidMania’s volunteers, we are closer than ever before to reaching that goal. June-July 2012



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When entering a music therapy session for the first time, you might be surprised at what you see. A group of toddlers might be playing shakers as they march around the room, listening closely for the music to “STOP!” so they know to freeze. A teenage girl might be taking adapted lessons on guitar, using specially designed music notation to help her learn chords and finger positions or a young boy might be playing the gathering drum and creating a “musical rainstorm” using only his fingers. Music therapy may take on a variety of appearances depending on the needs of the individual. However, the basic concept is the same: the music therapist is using music and music-based interventions to achieve non-musical goals. By: Amy Kalas, MM, MT-BC, Board-Certified Music Therapist


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Music therapy is a well-established health care profession that has been around since the 1940s. Music therapy is the systematic use of music and music-based interventions (such as singing, movement to music, or playing instruments) to work on non-musical goals (such as increasing attention, improving motor skills, or increasing communication). Goals fall under a variety of domains, including: social/ emotional, motor/physical, communication, academic/cognitive, or sensory. The music therapy treatment process begins with an initial evaluation. The evaluation consists of a 45-minute session in which the music therapist uses a variety of interventions to determine the individual’s level of function in a variety of areas. Following the evaluation session, the music therapist will consult with the parents and/or primary caregivers to determine the goals they have for their child during music therapy. The music therapist may also consult the IEP, when applicable, to determine appropriate goals. Following this initial evaluation, the

music therapist will determine the goals and objectives for treatment. Then, the treatment process begins. As mentioned earlier, music therapy may take on a variety of appearances based on the needs of the individual. Below are a few examples. All names have been changed: Danielle is a 4-year-old girl with Cerebral Palsy. Based on her music therapy evaluation and recommendations from her physical therapist, Danielle’s treatment goals are to improve her gross and fine motor skills. Since Danielle showed a particular interest in the lollipop drum during the evaluation, the music therapist designs a music therapy intervention around drumming to work on her motor goals. In order to play, Danielle must grasp the mallet (fine motor skill) and reach her arm out to play the drum (gross motor skill). The drum can be moved high, low, or to the side, to increase range of motion and facilitate various types of movement such as crossing midline. The drum serves as a target,

or endpoint, for the movement and provides auditory feedback to let Danielle know she has successfully completed the movement. Matt is a 10-year-old with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Attention Deficit Disorder who has been having trouble concentrating in school. Matt’s parents tell the music therapist that he has expressed interest in learning piano, but, when he tried taking lessons last year, was unable to sit at the piano long enough to learn and had trouble learning standard musical notation. The music therapist decides to teach Matt piano using a color-coded notation system. Each musical note on the staff is a different color that corresponds to a colored tab on the piano keys. This system helps facilitate the process of learning piano, while also improving Matt’s sustained attention, increasing his eye-hand coordination, and building his self-esteem as he learns a new instrument. Andy, Jose, and Laura take part in a music therapy group for children ages 4-5 with global June-July 2012



developmental delay. For this group, the music therapist consults with their classroom teacher to find out what academic concepts they are learning in school. This week they are learning the days of the week. The music therapist writes the following original song to specifically target this concept: Every week has seven days (echo)! Sunday, Monday (echo), Tuesday, Wednesday (echo), Thursday, Friday, Saturday (echo) Today is Wednesday (echo) Yes the week has seven days (echo)!

The repetition that is inherently built into the song (i.e. the echo) allows the child multiple opportunities to learn the concept. Also, the song allows the information to be “chunked” (i.e. Sunday, Monday are grouped together) so it can be more easily remembered and recalled. These case examples illustrate the scope of music therapy and the wide range of skills and behaviors that can be addressed during sessions. So how does music therapy “work?” And why does it work? There are many reasons why music is an effective medium for bringing about functional changes in behavior. Here are just a few: - Music is organized into patterns. Research has shown that when the brain takes in information, it prefers it to be in an organized, structured form, rather than discrete bits of information. - Music provides concrete,


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multisensory stimuli. Musical instruments such as the ocean drum, cabasa, tone bars, and drums provide unique visual, auditory, and tactile stimulation. - Music has a rhythmic component. Rhythm can be used to structure movement patterns, accent specific words or sounds, and help sustain a child’s attention throughout the therapeutic intervention and session. - Research has shown that children with autism have a musical sensitivity and perceptual preference for music. Music is our way ‘in.’ Music therapists can use music to engage children with autism so we can work on other skills, such as joint attention, expressive language, or socialization. - Music can be used as a mnemonic device. “Chunking” (grouping information into smaller units) and repetition in songs allow non-musical information to be remembered and recalled more easily. - Musical elements can cue specific behaviors. For example, high notes on a piano can cue a child to play their shaker high; low notes can cue the child to play low. - Music is universal. Music crosses boundaries of age, gender, and culture. Nearly everyone responds to music in some way. - Music is a fun, motivating medium! The music and the upbeat rhythm are what motivate the children to be engaged and participate.

Amy Kalas, MM, MT-BC is a board-certified music therapist with 7 years of experience working with children and adolescents with special needs. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Music Therapy (2005) and Master’s degree in Music Therapy (2010) from University of Miami. Amy currently works full-time as a music therapist and internship director at United Cerebral Palsy of Miami. Amy also runs a private practice, Wholesome Harmonies Music Therapy, providing music therapy services around Miami. Services include: music therapy evaluations, group and individual music therapy, and adapted lessons on guitar and piano. If you are interested in learning more about music therapy or would like to sign your child up, please contact Amy by phone: (305) 804-9840 or by email: You can also visit her website for Wholesome Harmonies Music Therapy at June-July 2012




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or a parent, children are a source of joy, ambition, and inspiration. For John and Claudia Orrett, their twin daughters, Samantha and Chloe, were just that. When Chloe was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, her parents knew that they wanted Chloe to have the same opportunities as her sister, Samantha. Their parents made every effort to provide her with extracurricular activities and care. Chloe began participating in ballet and yoga,

...her parents knew that they wanted


to have the same opportunities

as her sister...

along with water therapy and acupuncture. These exercises and therapies were so successful that by her 5th birthday she was able to walk on her own. For a condition that confines many to wheelchairs for the rest of their lives, this was a milestone to be celebrated. It was this moment, this visible sign of success, which led Chloe’s parents to think back on all the parents that weren’t experiencing the same triumphs. And so, the couple was inspired to create Blossom’s. Blossom’s Developmental June-July 2012



Therapy is a non-profit organization with a mission to fill the gap in therapeutic services for children with special needs. John and Claudia believed that what enabled Chloe to walk so early on was the combination of therapy and extracurricular activities. Along with the support of Chloe’s physical therapist, Jennifer Burch, MPT, C-NDT, Blossom’s opened their doors in October 2011. At Blossom’s, the children participate in an Interactive Intensive Therapy for

Physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech/language therapy are only half of what Blossom’s offers. What really sets them apart from other centers in South Florida is their all-encompassing approach. Music, art, and many other creative activities are available for children after school in small group settings. Giving children the opportunity to try new activities freely has proven to be an essential element to learning and well being.

Even a single advancement in a child can have an endless effect on their quality of life. three hours a day for one to three weeks. This concentrated period of therapy helps children reach specific goals in a much shorter time span. The activities are designed to be fun, so the repetitive nature of the therapy seems more enjoyable and less laborious for the child. Children with cerebral palsy, spina bifida, and other developmental delays can see advancements in just a few weeks, rather than months or years.


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Therapy can be one of the biggest bills a parent can face. That’s why John and Claudia went above and beyond. Though the therapy is funded by Medicaid, Early Steps, and some private insurance, many parents still cannot afford it. Through a series of ongoing fundraising events, Blossom’s has donated two scholarships alongside another nonprofit, Samantha’s Purpose, which has donated three. Even a single advancement in a child can have an endless effect on their quality of life. For Chloe, it was walking into her kindergarten class unassisted alongside her sister. The goal may be different for every child, but the joys of success are always the same.


f you suspect your child may have a communication disorder, you are not alone. More than five million children in the U.S. have a speech, language, or hearing disorder, according to the American SpeechLanguage-Hearing Association (ASHA). These disorders can occur at any time in a child’s life, and may be inherited or caused by an injury or illness. Many parents may suspect a problem, but are unsure of what to do. Early intervention is crucial because, without it, a communication disorder can affect a child’s ability to learn, make friends, and succeed in school and life. The most common communication disorders are related to speech and language.

By Millie Martinez Suarez, M.S., C.C.C. Photos by: Maria R. Rivera

Speech Disorders The definitions of speech and language are different, although they influence each other, and so can be addressed separately. Speech deals with the areas of respiration, phonation, resonation, and articulation; In other words, the disorders of voice, stuttering, and articulation. For all of these areas, early intervention is the key to successful remediation. Parents need to look out for their child’s vocal quality. Ask yourself: “Is my child always hoarse? Is his/her pitch to high or too low? Is he/ she always clearing his throat?” Regarding stuttering, many children have normal disfluency

between the ages of 2 to 4, but any disfluencies with secondary characteristics, such as facial grimace or increased tension in the neck area, need to be monitored. In terms of articulation, there is “normal development” of sounds for every language. As a benchmark, children should be able to articulate all of the sounds of a language at about 5 years of age. It is important to intervene early with articulation disorders so that errors do not later influence the child’s reading ability.

Language Disorders Language disorders can include difficulties with social/pragmatic

language, such as not responding to name, lack of joint attention, speaking only to have needs met rather than for social interaction, and poor or non-existent eye contact. As the child grows, parents may detect other types of language disorders, which may include decreased vocabulary development, incorrect use of grammar, and an inability to remember things previously learned. School-age children can also be affected by language disorders, characterized by difficulty understanding others, and expressing themselves (receptive-expressive skills); and June-July 2012



cognitive-communication disorders, marked by difficulty with thinking skills including perception, memory, reasoning, judgment, and imagination, among others.

Hearing Loss Sometimes delayed speech development is caused by hearing loss, which can occur at birth, develop in childhood as a result of chronic ear infections, or from exposure to loud noises. Parents who suspect hearing loss should see an ASHA-certified audiologist. Helping a child with a hearing disorder may include fitting a hearing aid or the use of other assistive listening devices. A therapist can also show children how to concentrate on hearing all sounds, or even teach them sign language.

Missing Milestones The most obvious indication of a communication disorder is when a child misses speech and language milestones and is not speaking at an age-appropriate level. Parents can view developmental milestones at or Any developmental delay can signal various disorders and is why parents should seek a speech-language evaluation from an ASHA-certified speech-language pathologist. Many times, speech and language delays are the first indication of difficulties. Parents should not discount their questions and concerns about their child’s development. Many times parents will say they have been concerned for a long time before acting on it.

Treatment and Early Intervention Research shows that early intervention – ages 0-3 – can make a huge difference, as this is the time when the brain experiences the biggest growth, and neurological connections are being built. Treatment for speech and language disorders include speech therapy and, in the cases of children with a disorder in the social/ pragmatic area of language, Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) can modify behaviors and help a child develop the skills needed as the basis for language development.


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Often, children with communication disorders benefit most from a team approach, one that involves personalized goals and multidisciplinary intervention that includes a speech-language pathologist, occupational therapist, a child psychologist, their teacher, and, most importantly, their parents. Other therapies and programs may also be helpful on an individual basis. All programs should be evidence-based and all professionals should be board-certified and/or licensed.

Doing Poorly in School Children with communication disorders often struggle academically and are unable to perform at grade level since they may have difficulty listening, understanding and talking, problems with reading, writing and understanding social cues. Showing poor judgment and having trouble with test taking are other indicators. Parents should be aware because it may cause the child to want to avoid school altogether. Often, it is teachers who first notice a problem and bring it to the parents’ attention. Left untreated, the consequences for a child can be devastating to their social and academic success. It’s important for parents to remember that communication disorders are treatable. Even if the disorder cannot be “cured,” the child can learn effective coping strategies. Regardless of the diagnosis – autism or an independent speech-language or hearing disorder – the intervention is the same, building on the individual skills the child needs to give them the best prognosis to succeed. If you’re a parent who suspects your child may have a communication disorder, visit and to learn more. Millie Martinez Suarez, M.S., C.C.C. is the founder and director of Speech Pathology Educational Center (SPEC) in Miami, an ASHA certified speech-language pathologist, and a professor at Florida International University.

Story time

About SPEC

Millie doing evaluations

Students learning to identify body parts.

Speech Pathology Educational Center (SPEC) has been a leading pioneer in the areas of speech pathology, therapeutic interventions and educational programs in Miami for more than 30 years. SPEC believes in a multidisciplinary team approach where a child’s individual needs are assessed and personalized goals are set. Children with speech and other developmental delays, and autism spectrum disorders, have sought help from SPEC through one-onone speech, ABA and occupational therapy. Our educational programs, including Toddler Talk and the Preschool Language Program (PLP), help children prepare for a traditional school setting, with the input of a team that includes a speech language pathologist, occupational therapist, music therapist, and special education teachers. SPEC offers individual therapies and group educational programs. Services include: • Toddler Talk • Preschool Language Program • Language Literacy Lab • Reading Write • FUNdamentals • Play School Program • Music Therapy • Art Therapy

Call 305-266-5353 or visit to learn more. June-July 2012



By Evelyn Vanegas


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A Saturday at the museum is a classic family outing that will never go out of style. But when we heard Miami Children’s Museum was putting a new spin on the old classic, we just had to hear more! So we asked Danielle Newton, the associate director of museum experience at Miami Children’s Museum, to tell us more about their new program called Sensory Saturday.

What is Sensory Saturday, and for whom was the program designed?

Sensory Saturday is an inclusive accessibility event that will be held one Saturday morning a month from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. This program is designed for children with disabilities, their families and friends to be able to experience the museum in their own way. There will be a reduced admission to the museum and pre-registration is required.

What is the inspiration behind Sensory Saturday?

The inspiration to host an accessibility event originally came from Peter Kisiluk, our Manager of Museum Experiences, and his interaction with some of our museum guests. He brought me the idea, which I loved, and we started down the road to creating what is now Sensory Saturday. We first formed a group of talented staff and other professionals to discuss and research accessibility programs in other museums and institutions and how well it will work at the Miami Children’s Museum. Working with Miami Lighthouse for the Blind also provided valuable insight and knowledge for the staff and helped us to

How will people’s experience at the museum differ from a typical Saturday visit?

mold what we wanted Sensory Saturday to be. For Sensory Saturday, the museum will be adjusted to be as sensory friendly as possible. With modified lighting in certain locations, sound adjustments, and “cool down” rooms available for children to be able to go, relax and take a breather. Every Sensory Saturday will have different programming. Guests will be able to enjoy yoga, art, and music therapy, just to name a few. We are also working with different organizations to highlight the resources available in the community. Basically, the guests will be able to enjoy the museum with some slight modifications and extra programming. June-July 2012



left: BANK ROOM right: GIFT SHOP

How will Sensory Saturday be structured to address different needs? What special activities or exhibits will be available?

We will be providing pre-visit material such as a picture story guide of the museum for children and families. This will be a way for them to familiarize themselves with the museum and structure their visit according to their children’s needs. We have also created a color coded “sound level” map of the museum, indicting which areas may be too loud for those children with sensitivity to sounds. We hope to provide a safe and welcoming experience.

How will the parents participate?

The Miami Children’s Museum is designed to promote parent/child interaction so the parents that come to Sensory Saturday will be able to do this as well. Another one of our major goals is for the museum to become a resource for these parents and for them to learn about the other resources in the community. We hope that this will be an opportunity for parents to network and to talk to other parents who are going through the same or similar situations.


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What will young participants learn from this, and what can they hope to take away from their experience?

We hope that the children coming to Sensory Saturday will have fun and are able to enjoy the museum and all its offerings in their own way. We want them to feel safe and comfortable coming and playing in our gallery spaces. WORLD MUSIC STUDIO

Immediate right: SAFETY ZONE Far right: KIDSCAPE VILLAGE

What are your hopes for the program?

MCM is committed to providing engaging experiences for all children and our hope is that Sensory Saturday will become very successful and continue into a signature program for the museum. We hope to reach as many families as we can with this program and for parents with children with disabilities to see us as a safe, enjoyable place to bring their children. Sensory Saturday is a work in progress, but one that we have enjoyed creating and we look forward to continually trying to improve and make it the best program we can.




By Evelyn Vanegas


n Saturday, April 14th, the Epilepsy Foundation of Florida hosted the 2012 Walk-the-Talk for Epilepsy at Crandon Park in Key Biscayne. Hundreds of families, friends, and supporters came out, in spite of the rainy weather, sporting t-shirts imprinted with names of their loved ones affected by epilepsy. It was just one of 9 walks that the Epilepsy Foundation held this year.

could not have been more pleasant. The overcast and windy weather was perfect for a light stroll or jog through Crandon. Some groups chanted, jubilantly shouting support for their team. Others enjoyed the sea breeze and casually strolled. Others yet took the time to take in Crandon Park’s wildlife, snapping pictures of posing peacocks, geese, storks, and herons.

...we had well over 850 men, women and children come to Crandon Park to show their support...

The Miami Heat dancers came out to show their support and help get the crowd warmed up for the walk. Various vendors set up booths with informational literature. In addition, they also handed out snack and refreshments such as bananas and cheese, to help provide the walkers with some much needed fuel. Joe Martinez, Chairman of the Board of county commissioners, was present as well. The walk began promptly at 9:00 a.m, and


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As walkers crossed the finish line, they were congratulated and greeted with music that soon had the whole park

“We had a fantastic turnout for our 5th Annual Walk the Talk for Epilepsy in Miami – despite a rainy morning – for Floridians living with epilepsy and seizure disorders. We’ve doubled last year’s numbers and are getting closer to the 1000 mark, with many businesses, community groups, schools, and elected officials joining the cause”

said Karen Basha Egozi, Chief Executive Officer of the Epilepsy Foundation of Florida. In discussing the reason for the increased turnout, Egozi noted “I think the turnout and participation reflects the growing recognition of the significant impact epilepsy has on our society and our state – over 375,000 Floridians are living with this neurological disorder. And it’s even more common than we previously thought: a recent Institute of Medicine report stated that 1 in 26 people will develop epilepsy in their lifetime. At the Epilepsy Foundation of Florida, where our mission is to stop seizures, find a cure, and overcome the challenges created by epilepsy, we are working very hard to get communities engaged in a well over-due dialogue about June-July 2012




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