October 2023 Special Needs Living Magazine

Page 1

TRUE INSPIRATION On and Off the Bowling Alley


· All female residents, ages 18 & up

· 6 individual rooms

· Located in a residential neighborhood within walking distance to parks, shopping, and church

· Large ADA bathrooms

· Washer and dryer on main level for independence

· Van on-site for transportation

· 24-hour nursing available, with staff trained in DD-specific, person-centered planning


GentleBrook offers seven locations in Hartville and West Lafayette. Adult residents living in our ICFs receive these benefits:

· 24-hour supervision and on-site nursing care

· Active treatment

· Therapeutic services

· Life skills mentoring & support

· Social & recreational activities

· Transportation to & from work and activities

· Respite services

Contact us! We’re committed to being a helpful resource for individuals and families who want more information about the advantages of an Intermediate Care Facility.

4 October 2023 CONNECTING PEOPLE + COMMUNITY GentleBrook Office 880 Sunnyside SW, Hartville, Ohio 44632 330-877-7700 | gentlebrook.org Follow us on social media


• (10) Important Community Connections

• (14) Just Saying Thank You

• (22) Cover Story > Ethan Schubert

• (30) Professional Perspective >

Becca Allen

• (34) Gretchen Hoffman

• (37) Beauty Belongs To Everyone >

Roman Beltz

• (40) Parent Perspective > Rob Gorski

• (42) ArtSparks

• (47) Community Impact Q&A

• (50) Parent Perspective >

Kylie Zehnder

• (54) Community Event Recap >

The Jesus Prom

• (58) Sponsor Spotlight >

Skylight Financial

• (62) Last Look


Rick Miller (330) 283-8462


Scan the QR Code to Like, Subscribe or Nominate:

Facebook (@snl.cak)

Instagram (special_needs_cak)


Akron & Canton Special Needs Living 5
ArtSparks Gretchen Hoffman The Jesus Prom Kylie Zehnder & Daughter Alaina Roman Beltz Mark Trew
6 October 2023 COMPASSION • FUN • CHALLENGE • INDEPENDENCE Compassionate and energizing adult day services and residential care for developmentally delayed adults. · Individually customized day programs · Life skills practice · Provided transportation · Wheelchair van access · Tutoring for school work · Consistency: very low staff turnover (330) 758-8418 6963 Promway Ave. NW | North Canton, OH 44720 Scan and visit our new website: OUTINGS: parks, zoos, museums, shopping, movies and more cool places like the chocolate factory, coffee shops and the airplane museum! NOW HIRING! Will train Full benefits Highly competitive pay Flexible schedule Compassionate Care Givers
The Guildersleeve School of Performing Arts: a Private School with a Public Purpose At the Guildersleeve School, we pride ourselves in establishing goals that nurture students, family and community alike and that produce a healthy and productive result for all three. Inquire about our upcoming Enrollment Open House Events at (330) 510-1371. 1011 Gorge Blvd, Akron, OH 44203

This section is here to give our readers easier access when searching for a trusted neighborhood partner to use. Get to know the businesses that make this magazine possible. Please support them in return and thank them if you get the chance!


Applied Behavioral Connections

Kristen Maple (330) 309-3133



JTEK Solutions Group, LLC

Jared Chevraux (330) 323-0943



Bright Minds Learning Academy

Sheila Lahoti (330) 966-7226

4900 Frank Rd. NW, North Canton, OH 44720



Next to Kin Supportive Services, LLC (330) 288-8450


Premier Approach, LLC

Christian Manns (330) 312-6909

www.facebook.com/ PremierApproachLLC



ALL ABOUT LOCAL BeLOCAL - Stark County (330) 283-8462



DogWatch of Northeast Ohio

Donnie Myers (330) 915-6036



The Wow Crowd (330) 445-4482



Lewis Law, LLC (234) 360-3203



Autism Society of Greater Akron (330) 940-1441



Paragon Accounting and Business Services, Inc. (330) 575-2291



First Christian Church (330) 456-2600


The Chapel Green

Amy Troyer (330) 315-5501



The Wow Crowd (330) 445-4482



Bala Management, LLC (330) 758-8418



Stark Board of Developmental Disabilities

Lisa Parramore (330) 479-3934


Summit DD

(330) 634-8877



The Workshops, Inc

Rachel Doty (330) 497-3399



Michael Seemann - Digital Marketing Specialist (216) 288-2061

www.thryv.com/near-me/ michael-seemann


REM Ohio, Inc

Jo Spargo (330) 644-9730



Jason’s Place

Melissa Hadnett (234) 714-9815


Red Line Advocacy (234) 678-9622


The Guildersleeve School (330) 571-8878



Express Employment Professionals (330) 239-8709



Pegasus Farm

Shelley Sprang (330) 935-2300



Skylight Financial Group

Kathryn Bryan (216) 592-7319


Travis DeZordo, Modern Woodmen Of America (330) 704-6211

www.reps. modernwoodmen.org/tdezordo


Fat Daddy Meats (330) 904-0288



Dutch Craft Furniture (330) 893-4041



Campbell Landscaping (330) 933-9091



Bohemian Mama (330) 936-4645



Compassion Delivered (330) 575-0996



SafeInHome - Ohio (740) 207-5800



Harvestime Temple (330) 877-6544



Henry Heating Cooling & Plumbing (330) 364-5571



Wings of Change Therapy Inc (234) 334-0044



American Family - Richard Corns

Haley Seifert (234) 714-2300

8 October 2023


Kona Ice of Central Canton (330) 398-0120



Creative Rehab (330) 806-0497


Independent Employment Services

Malcolm Porter (330) 388-5778



Carve Your Own Path, Inc. (330) 426-7885



Your Guardian Angels (234) 571-0975




Francie Kell (330) 877-7700


Teammates Center (234) 571-5876



GiGi’s Playhouse Canton

Megan Vance (330) 493-9114


The Down Syndrome Association of Northeast Ohio (216) 447-8763



Henry Heating Cooling & Plumbing (330) 364-5571



Special Needs Ohio Podcast

Rob Gorski (234) 817-5851



Pond Wiser Inc (330) 833-3764



Strouble Water Hauling (330) 877-6795



The Golden Key Center for Exceptional Children

Gina Bannevich (330) 493-4400



eXp Realty: The Amy Wengerd Group

Amy Wengerd (330) 681-6090



Julie Billiart Schools (216) 691-8916



Night to Shine (330) 456-4797 x104


SUPPORT GROUP Sharing Solutions



Canton Palace Theatre

Laura Strader 330-454-8172



Clearview Developmental Services

Dean Miller (330) 224-4403


Stark Area Regional Transit Authority (SARTA) (330) 477- 2782



Homeplace Creative (330) 575-8922


ZOO Akron Zoo (330) 375-2550


DISCLAIMER: This publication is owned by The N2 Company and is not affiliated with or sponsored by any club, developer, or homeowners association. Articles and advertisements in this publication and opinions expressed therein do not necessarily reflect the views of N2 but remain solely those of the author(s) or advertiser(s). The paid advertisements contained within this magazine are not endorsed or recommended by N2.

Akron & Canton Special Needs Living 9
Delivering Neighborhood Connections © 2023 The N2 Company, Inc.



Need to know who to connect with to ask a question? This is where you find out who you need to know!


Phone: 330-253-2555

Website: www.akronblindcenter.org

The Akron Blind Center Inc. is a membership-based nonprofit organization incorporated in 1948 to serve the blind and lowvision communities. They also provide resources, programs, services and classes for Summit and surrounding counties.


Phone: 330-543-1000

Website: www.akronchildrens.org

Akron Children’s Hospital has been caring for children since 1890, and its pediatric specialties are ranked among the nation’s best by U.S. News & World Report. With two hospital campuses, four health centers, and 50+ primary and specialty care locations throughout Ohio, they’re making it easier for today’s busy families to find the high-quality care they need.


Phone: 234-571-5689

Website: www.thearcofohio.org

The Arc promotes and protects the human rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and actively supports their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes.


Phone: 330-940-1441

Website: www.autismakron.org

The Autism Society is the nation’s oldest and largest grassroots autism organization committed to improving the lives of those affected by autism. The Greater Akron affiliate was founded in 1987 by parent volunteers of children with autism.


Website: www.ood.ohio.gov/individuals-with-disabilities/ services/services-for-the-visually-impaired


Phone: 330-643-3080


Phone: 330-438-0500

BSVI assists eligible people, beginning at age 14, with low vision and blindness by providing direct, personalized

services to assist them in finding and retaining meaningful work and personal independence. Basic services include personal and work adjustment training, vocational training, mental and physical restoration, and placement assistance.


CALL 211

Phone: 211

Website: www.211.org

Serving four counties and covering 1.5 million people in Ohio, the United Way 2-1-1 Help Center provides free and confidential 24-hour access to a compassionate professional who will review your options for help, develop a plan and act as your advocate if you are faced with barriers to service. Simply dial 2-1-1 or chat with us for assistance. Se habla Espanol.


Phone: 330-575-0996

Website: www.compassiondelivered.org

Compassion Delivered provides medically tailored nutritional meals to people coping with chronic, lifethreatening illnesses and diseases.


Phone: 216-447-8763

Website: www.dsaneo.org

The Down Syndrome Association of Northeast Ohio is a nonprofit that provides support, education, advocacy, and resources for individuals with Down syndrome, their families and the community.


Phone: 330-376-9494

Website: www.greenleafctr.org

Greenleaf is a nonprofit organization that strengthens families in our community through counseling, education and support. By offering a variety of programs and services, we are here to help families with the many challenges of daily living and personal crises.

Akron & Canton Special Needs Living 11
www.jasonsplace.org (234) 714-9815 Jason’s Place Inc JASON’S PLACE MAKE OUR PLACE YOUR PLACE TOO! Happy Fall, Y’all VOCATIONAL AND CAREER SERVICES


Phone: 330-492-8136

Website: https://odh.ohio.gov/know-our-programs/ help-me-grow/help-me-grow

Help Me Grow is Ohio’s evidence-based parent support program that encourages early prenatal and well-baby care, as well as parenting education to promote the comprehensive health and development of children. Help Me Grow System includes Central Intake, Help Me Grow Home Visiting, and Help Me Grow Early Intervention.


Phone: 844-382-5452

Website: www.parentmentor.osu.edu

It is the mission of the Ohio Parent Mentors to provide the necessary support and resources to families of children with disabilities and the professionals that serve them by connecting families, schools, and the community to the benefit of students with disabilities.


Phone: 844-382-5452

Website: www.ocecd.org

The OCECD is a statewide nonprofit organization that serves families of infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities in Ohio, educators, and agencies who provide services to them.


Phone: 800-324-8680

Website: www.medicaid.ohio.gov

The ODM provides health care coverage to more than three million Ohioans through a network of more than 165,000 providers. Learn more about Ohio’s largest state agency and the ways in which they continue to improve wellness and health outcomes for the individuals and families served at our website.


Phone: 800-720-9616

Website: www.jfs.ohio.gov

The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) is responsible for managing many vital programs that directly affect the lives of Ohioans.



Website: www.ddc.ohio.gov

Phone: 800-766-7426

The Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council is a planning and advocacy body committed to community inclusion for people with developmental disabilities. It is the mission of the ODDC to create change that improves independence, productivity, and inclusion for people with developmental disabilities and their families in community life.


Phone: 800-282-4536

Website: www.ood.ohio.gov

This state agency works to empower Ohioans with disabilities through employment, disability determinations, and independence. Amoung the many services provided, OOD is responsible for establishing and maintaining partnerships with employers.


Website: www.peoplefirstohio.org

People First of Ohio is a statewide organization that works with state legislators and builds relationships with other advocacy groups and state agencies. These relationships promote better interaction among people who make decisions in the communities and the state.


Phone: 330-453-9157

Website: www.philomatheon.com

This organization is a gathering of blind and visually impaired people, along with sighted family and friends, with a mission and goal to help the blind and visually impaired in the community to help themselves to remain or to become able to live independently and an active member of their community.

12 October 2023


Phone: (330) 297-6209

Website: www.portagedd.org

The Portage County Board of Developmental Disabilities exists to connect individuals and families with the services they need for health, safety, education and a high quality of life.


Website: www.redtreehouse.org

Supporting the well-being of families and children with challenges, disabilities, and health care needs. Finding tools, organizations, and events in the community to meet the needs of families.


Phone: 330-546-2001

Website: www.sharingsolutions.info

A community of parents/guardians of individuals from transition to adult age with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, professionals who serve the IDD community, caregivers, and policymakers. The focus is to provide information, support, and assistance to all. Everyone is encouraged to play an active role in sharing their resources, knowledge, and experiences.



Phone: 877-255-1509

Website: www.secure.ssa.gov

The Social Security Administration assigns Social Security numbers and administers the Social Security retirement, survivors, and disability insurance programs. They also administer the Supplemental Security Income program for the aged, blind and disabled.


Phone: 330-477-5200

Website: www.starkdd.org

Stark DD connects individuals and families with the services persons with developmental disabilities need for health, safety, education and quality of life.


Phone: 330-634-8000

Website: www.summitdd.org

Summit DD offers early intervention programs for infants and toddlers with developmental delays, as well as transition services for students with developmental disabilities to vocational, habilitation and retirement programs for adults.


Phone: 330-768-7272

Website: www.triadds.org

TRIAD Deaf Services Inc is an agency providing services to the deaf community in Stark, Carroll, and Tuscarawas Counties. They provide support services, interpreting, leadership, deaf advocacy and education.

Akron & Canton Special Needs Living 13
Have a suggestion for an important connection that could be added to this page? Email your suggestion to rick.miller@n2co.com.





(Supports: Carve Your Own Path)

These local businesses are supporting our community in a big way!




(Supports: GiGi’s Playhouse)


www.facebook.com/ clearviewdsi


(Supports: Sharing Solutions)

BETH STROUBLE www.stroubletrucking.com


(Supports: GiGi’s Playhouse)


www.expresspros.com/ cantonoh


(Supports: First Christian Church)


The businesses shown on this page are those committing financial support to local community resources that couldn’t afford to advertise in Akron & Canton Special Needs Living magazine on their own.

Feel free to repay the generosity these local business owners are showing by giving them a Like and Follow on Social Media, a Review on Google or Facebook or if you have a need that can be met by one of these businesses, give them a call. I’m sure they will be thrilled to serve you!

Akron & Canton Special Needs Living 15 CALL TODAY: (330) 426-7885 Carve Your Own Path, Inc. | 840 Rothrock Rd, Suite 203, Copley, OH 44321 | Caregiver Stress CARE FOR YOURSELF TO BETTER CARE FOR YOUR LOVED ONE · Prioritize caring for your basic health and wellness needs · Find a supportive person or group · Make time for things you enjoy · Reach out to professional services to learn stress management and other coping skills Save the Date: Carving the Future Fundraiser Friday, November 3, 2023 Sponsorship Opportunities Available
16 October 2023

Caring for a loved one with special needs is an important responsibility.

• What would happen if your loved ones didn’t have you to care for them?

• Is there a plan that both protects their government benefits for health care needs while also leaving money to enhance their quality of life?

Special Needs Trusts save assets on behalf of people with disabilities while protecting their eligibility for means-tested benefits.

Akron & Canton Special Needs Living 17 In Memory of Pookie’s Special Girl
your loved ones by having a plan. At Lewis Law, LLC
and plan for the future.
No Matter What You Need, We Have a Plan.
Protect yourself and
we help our clients preserve what they have now
• Guardianships • Power Of Attorney Documents • Wills • Revocable & Irrevocable Trusts • Estate Planning • Health Care Directives • Probate • Tax Planning
WITH: CONTACT US TODAY FOR A FREE, NO-OBLIGATION, 1-HOUR CONSULTATION. HOUSE CALLS AVAILABLE. Attorney Matthew M. Lewis, JD, MTax 1944 Whipple Ave NW | Canton, OH (234) 360-3203 | ohioplanninglaw.com Lewis Law, LLC MJ and Matt Lewis with newly adopted Arthur


18 October 2023


Becky Allen is a Doctor of Physical therapy. She is a wife to a supportive husband and mom of three very active young boys. She enjoys exercise, crafts, and coffee. Becky has been practicing physical therapy for 19 years, with the last 18 years at the Cleveland Clinic Union Hospital in Dover, Ohio. She is the owner of BeKidsPT LLC a pediatric therapy clinic that offers Occupational Therapy, Physical therapy and Speech Therapy. She founded BeKidsPT LLC during the height of the pandemic to better assist her patients in their homes. This fall BeKidsPT LLC will open its first brick-and-mortar clinic in the Canton, Ohio area. BeKids Clinic will offer therapy services that center around the child. Her goal is to provide a team approach to meeting the needs of the child and their caregivers while letting the child just Be a Kid!


J. Albert Studios

Joe Albert is an expert photographer with a studio located in the heart of Downtown Canton. He has mastered the art of seeing the world through a photographer’s eye which as he states means “to look for the beauty in everything.” Joe has loved getting to know his clients over the years and takes pride to have those same individuals continue to come to him for the most memorable milestones in their lives, their senior portraits, engagement photos, their wedding, and ultimately their children and family pictures. Joe loves nothing more than a good whiskey and cigar and never leaves home without his camera!


Parent & Advocate

Kylie Zehnder was born and raised in Canton. Currently, Kylie is a mom to two beautiful girls Alaina and Avalynn. Kylie is the founder of Be Limitless and previously held a board of directors position with the KBG Syndrome Association which helps raise awareness and education for individuals with KBG Syndrome. Kylie’s mission is centered around her daughter Alaina who was diagnosed with KBG in 2016 at age 3. Kylie lives every day by the standard of simply showing kindness and doing what is right.

Goodwill Industries Of Greater Cleveland And East Central Ohio

Mark Trew is the Chief Operating Officer at Goodwill Industries of Greater Cleveland and East Central Ohio. In his role with Goodwill, he is responsible for leading nearly 700 Goodwill team members in operating Goodwill’s thrift retail social enterprise that supports 28 community-focused mission programs across a ten-county territory in Northeast Ohio that services over 18,000 people annually. Mark has over sixteen years of experience in the human services field, including as a CEO of a behavioral health organization before joining Goodwill. Mark resides in Green, Ohio with his wife Melissa and two children.

ROB GORSKI The Autism Dad

Rob Gorski is a Northeast Ohio-based blogger and podcast host famous for “The Autism Dad” blog and podcast. He aims to educate, validate, and support parents of children with disabilities, drawing from his own experience as a father of three autistic children. His work has received global recognition and numerous awards, including coverage by CNN, ABC News, BBC Worldwide, and the Tamron Hall Show. His impactful storytelling resonates with his audience, making a significant contribution to the global autism community.


Akron & Canton Special Needs Living 19
20 October 2023 Visit Our Website To Learn More: ChooseTWi.com 330-479-3958 Information@ChooseTWi.com October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month When it comes to employment, choose TWi. With over 50 years’ experience connecting local adults to employment opportunities in our community – we’re a trusted provider of employment services. We bring people together — uniting individual dreams with the practical needs of today’s employers. Our goal is to empower each person to progress through their employment journey by focusing on their strengths and by connecting them with the right opportunities. Transportation Job Training Supervision Paycheck
Akron & Canton Special Needs Living 21 We seek to provide every child with autism an individualized program that employs the research-based methodologies of Applied Behavior Analysis. Building Skills. Fostering Relationships. Changing Lives. AUTISM SCHOLARSHIP, MAJOR INSURANCES, AND OHIO MEDICAID PLANS ACCEPTED! AutismNowacceptingScholarship applicationsfor the2023-2024 schoolyear! 330-309-3133 www.appliedbehavioralconnections.com info@appliedbehavioralconnections.com Call TODAY to lean more! NEW SERVICES: Speech, Occupational, Physical & Music Therapies! Visit bidpal.net/pegasusgala2023 for more info.



Imagine being on a journey where every day presents unique challenges, yet those challenges are met with an unwavering spirit and a heart full of positivity. This is the story of 19-yearold Ethan Schubert, a remarkable young man who hails from Green, Ohio. The Schubert family has been rooted in Green for a quarter of a century,

and their tale is one of resilience, support, and unyielding love.


Ethan’s story began with a diagnosis that didn’t come easy. “Ethan was diagnosed with characteristics ‘consistent’ with Down Syndrome,”

shared his mom, Katherine. “For some reason, the doctor wouldn’t actually state that he had DS. We had suspicions that he did while I was pregnant, so I think we were more prepared.”

The ambiguity of the diagnosis process was a challenge itself, but it didn’t deter Katherine from seeking

24 October 2023

knowledge. On the way home from the hospital, she made a quick stop at the Green Library to pick up books on Down Syndrome, determined to equip herself with the tools needed to support Ethan. As any parent can attest, the journey of raising a child with special needs is filled with various hurdles. Early on, Ethan faced challenges with gross and fine motor skills, speech, and social biases. Yet, with determination and hard work, Ethan and his family pushed forward, one milestone at a time. “Every day is a good day! Some are just better than others,” Katherine exclaimed. Her words embody the family’s philosophy of embracing each moment, regardless of the obstacles they may encounter.


Ethan’s school life at Green High School was a testament to the power of inclusion and support. He was not only a part of the high school bowling team for four years, but he also forged lasting friendships and made indelible memories. “He

made a lot of great friends, and they loved having him on the team,” said Ethan’s dad, Donald. From the dedicated coaches like Coach Hansen, Coach K, and Coach Snyder to supportive classmates and teachers, Ethan thrived in an environment that embraced his uniqueness.

Beyond the bowling alley, Ethan’s interests were as diverse as they were inspiring. He dabbled in Challenger baseball, tennis, Impulse weight training, and even spent hours shooting hoops in the driveway. Swimming and helping around the house rounded out his eclectic list of pursuits. One thing is clear: Ethan was never short on enthusiasm or determination to explore life’s many avenues.

Akron & Canton Special Needs Living 25


As Ethan faces the transition into adulthood, the Schubert family remains steadfast in their commitment to his growth. “We will do one more year at GHS to prepare for work readiness,” said Katherine, with a sense of anticipation for what lies ahead. Ethan’s aspirations include attending Kent State University-Stark Campus, a dream that reflects his desire to experience college life just like his siblings did.

Reflecting on their journey, Katherine expressed immense gratitude for the Green community’s unwavering support. “I do believe that Green is a very supportive community,” she shared. “Involving Ethan in multiple activities and getting him out in the community is important. People all over the Green Community know Ethan and always say hi with a friendly smile. He’s contagious.” Ethan’s ability to connect with others radiates far beyond words.


The Schubert family offers sage advice to families walking a similar path. “There’s no handbook for any of our children, with or without special needs. If we don’t advocate for them and with them, who else will?” Katherine emphasizes. Her sentiment resonates deeply—parents truly are the most influential advocates for their children’s dreams and aspirations.

“Appreciate every day, no matter how challenging, and be thankful for all of the blessings you receive,” Donald added. Their perspective serves as a reminder that life’s challenges, whether big or small, can be transformed into stepping stones of growth and opportunity.

Ethan Schubert’s journey embodies the spirit of overcoming, the power of community, and the boundless potential that resides within us all. He has left an indelible mark on Green, Ohio, and his story continues to inspire those who are fortunate enough to cross his path. So, let us take a page from Ethan’s book—embrace each day, face challenges with a smile, and celebrate the unique journey that life has to offer.

Akron & Canton Special Needs Living 27 We work with families and Service and Support Administrators (SSA) to pair adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities with a dedicated provider who will provide a friendly and stable environment for your loved ones. Additionally, we work with families who have children transitioning to adulthood to have continued support. Who We Provide Services To: Individuals • Families • Young Adults Shared Living Network What We Do We're here for you. We will assist with licensing the family member to provide support. CALL US TODAY! 330-445-4482 www.sharedlivingnetwork.com
Akron & Canton Special Needs Living 29 For questions or to register, contact: Lena Hartman (330) 704-7896, lena719664@aol.com Patty Graham (330) 224-2528, pattylgraham@hotmail.com Sponsored by Harvestime Apostolic Temple 136 E Maple St | Hartville, OH | (330) 877-6544 | harvestimeonline.org | Harvestime Apostolic Temple Harvestime’s Special Needs Ministry Presents: The Princess Within Special Needs Noncompetitive Pageant Saturday, October 21, 2023 12-2 pm Hosted at The Hartville Kitchen 1015 Edison St., Hartville, OH since true beauty comes from within. Do you have a talent you’d like to share at the Princess Within pageant? Each princess is escorted across the wheelchair-accessible stage by a uniformed police officer or first responder, where she is announced as a princess and receives gifts. Those who sign up can share a talent as well. NOTE: we can only accept a limited number of talents, so sign up soon! There will be entertainment and a short, fun lesson on inner beauty. Afterwards, we’ll enjoy refreshments of cookies and a cake! In loving memory of Tom Graham. Special thanks to The Hartville Kitchen, Harvestime Apostolic Temple and the innumerable kind police officers and first responders from our community.

Play Is My Favorite Exercise

As a pediatric physical therapist, I used to dread this comment from parents. When I was just starting into the pediatric therapy world at least once a month a parent, grandparent, or even the occasional co-worker made this most annoying remark. It always got under my skin and because confrontation makes me uneasy, and words become difficult when I am nervous, I was never able to verbalize a well-structured rebuttal. At least not until I was in my car, alone, on my way home. That’s when I would literally say out loud “I should have said…” and insert a very well-structured and thought-out argument. You’ve been there, right? I can’t be the only one that does that. Anyway, by now you’re probably asking “So, what’s the comment?” Well, it goes something like this “Although we think you’re very nice, my husband and I have decided that we are not going to continue with physical therapy, because all you’re doing is playing with him, and we can do that at home.” Ugh. Right?! Even the occasional coworker would say something like “Man it sure would be fun to get to just play around all day.” Insert eye roll here.

So let me explain. Play is my favorite exercise! (Full disclosure, I saw that saying on a T-shirt and it’s my new favorite saying. And yes, I bought the T-shirt!) I love it because it is so very true! Play is my favorite tool in my pediatric toolbox, and I use it daily! Remember, Mr. Rogers saying “Play is a child’s work”? Well, that man knew what he was talking

about! Okay, okay, he meant it from an educational standpoint, but it also applies to all therapies as well. For example, did you know that the “speech portion” of your brain is activated by movement? This means kids are more likely to talk while moving. It’s the reason infants start “babbling” around the time they start to crawl and start saying actual words around the same time they learn to walk. Movement activates the speech centers of our brain.

But I am not a speech therapist, I am a pediatric physical therapist. And I still haven’t answered why my therapy sessions might look like I am

just playing with your child or why I don’t get that comment any more. It’s simple really. My session looks like I am just playing with your child because I am! The kids I am working with have difficulty moving their bodies in specific patterns, firing the correct muscle when they should, or even stretching a specific muscle in a way that is functional or purposeful. I’ll give you an example, a child may have a weaker gluteal muscle (butt muscle) which makes it difficult for them to lift their tiny butt in the air to assist with diaper changes and will make it difficult to sit independently. Sitting up straight in a chair without

30 October 2023

back support will be difficult for a child with a weak core. Sitting in a chair at all may be difficult for a child who has an STNR reflex that has not been properly organized.


The key word is “difficult!” Let’s just say math class was difficult for you when you were younger. Did you like going to do math homework? As a child did you say to yourself “Well I know this is hard, but I am only going to get better by buckling down and doing at least 45 minutes of math homework 3x a week.” No, you didn’t. You were a child. NO CHILD LIKES TO DO ANYTHING THAT IS DIFFICULT FOR THEM UNLESS PROPERLY MOTIVATED! And there you have it. How do I motivate a child to move their bodies in a way that is difficult for them? By making that exercise as

fun as I possibly can!! Whether that be a fun obstacle course to work on motor planning, kneeling on a cushion to activate the core/glutes/hamstrings while playing Guess Who, or jumping around and singing with my terrible singing voice to get a kid to jump. I’ll do it! Just ask any of my coworkers or patients. Pediatric therapists try to engage your child in any way we can. And play is the best way to do that! In fact, I think the reason I was drawn towards pediatrics was because I like the creativity aspect. I get to be creative while coming up with an exercise or game that strengthens, stretches, or moves the child in a way that also targets my specific goals! Of course, sometimes, especially if your child is older and can follow directions like “lay on your side and do twenty clam shells,” I might throw in some of the basic exercises in the treatment as well. But we pediatric therapists love children and understand that they are often being forced to add something to their weekly schedule that other kids do not. So, if keeping it fun makes therapy a little less stressful both for the child and for the parents, we will do it. Imagine all your brothers and sisters playing in the backyard and you must load into the minivan with your mom and go to a boring exercise class where your instructor is going to make you do all kinds of very hard

things you don’t want to do. The only people I know who would like that are the adults who enjoy CrossFit workouts!

Okay. So why don’t I get that comment anymore you may ask? Well, it’s because now that I have been doing this for nearly 20 years I have 1) practiced my rebuttal in my car enough times that I now have a well-verbalized and thought-out response down pat and 2) I have learned that my mistake was lack of education to the parents. I went to school for 7 years to learn about the body and what muscles activate or stretch in what position. Just because I know that playing UNO with the child sitting with their legs out in front of them and back straight is stretching their hamstrings does not mean that the parents know that. And if I don’t educate them, it does in fact look like I just wasted 5 minutes of therapy sitting on the ground playing a card game. Now that I am a seasoned therapist, I make sure to take the time to educate the parents/caregivers on the purpose of the position or game I am doing so that they understand I am not in fact “just” playing with the child and that I am targeting a specific therapy or functional goal. Things go much smoother now and parents are better able to continue the therapy treatments at home, which leads to better and faster outcomes for the child!

Akron & Canton Special Needs Living 31
Come visit our Award Winning Showroom at 950 S. Main St. - North Canton | 330.526.6009 Monday – Friday 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM Evenings & Weekends by appointment Medicaid Waiver Providers • www.jtekgroup.com • See our latest projects @jtekgroup OUR SERVICES Stairlifts – Straight and Curved Barrier Free Showers Ceiling Track Lift Systems Wheelchair Platform Lifts Walk-in Tubs & Transition Tubs Ramps (for sale or rent) Grab Bars & Handrails Pool Lifts Accessible Remodeling & Additions Interior Design for Mobility Consulting Services BRING DESIGN & STYLE TO YOUR HOME ACCESS PROJECT Experts in Accessible Remodeling and Mobility Equipment since 2011
note: All children are born with certain reflexes or develop certain reflexes that are supposed to get “organized” into our brain and integrate at a certain age, but for many of the kids I treat they have not gone away and can cause delays and discomfort. But that’s a topic for another article.

Changing Perceptions For The Better The Story of Gretchen Hoffman

If you have a child who is nonverbal you may feel like you and/or your child are in a group that isn’t heard or often talked about much like Richard and Connie Hoffman have felt with regard to their daughter Gretchen. However, they are here to celebrate their special needs daughter and the resources and opportunities right here in our backyard.

42-year-old Gretchen has multiple diagnoses, but her primary disability is that she has Cerebral Palsy (CP). CP is a group of disorders that affect a person’s ability to move and maintain balance and posture. Gretchen is nonverbal, non-ambulatory, and

nourished through a feeding tube. Richard said that in the beginning, one of the most difficult things for them was “understanding and accepting that there were services that could be provided for our daughter and that she and we had every right to receive them.” This touches on a point that as parents with a special needs child, it can be overwhelming. There can be some guilt involved with asking for help or feeling like you need to do

your lives, but both the individual and parents deserve these opportunities and the option to live independently as well. “You are not a lesser parent because you allow your child the opportunity to live independently” says Richard.

everything because no one will care as much as you do. But the Hoffman’s are here to say that the DD system has so many services offered just waiting for you to take advantage of them and that they understand these feelings and difficult decisions to allow external caregivers into

Richard and Connie say that even though Gretchen is in that nonverbal group, she, as well as everyone in this category, are “just as special and loving as others”. Having so many years of experience the Hoffman’s offer great perspective and interestingly are very open with their challenges of making lifelong decisions for Gretchen. You see, Gretchen lives in a community home in Massillon with 3 “housemates”. This home offers staffing and assistance 24/7 and has home nursing services twice a day. The Hoffman’s said that the move to the community home has been tremendous for Gretchen but was a difficult one for them to make. “We felt it extremely important for Gretchen to live independently, however, the thought process and timing of the move was very difficult. We weren’t ready for it and don’t know if we would ever have been ready for it, if left to our own devices… as her aging parents we are given independence of our own as well as the gift of knowing

where she will be when we are no longer around and who will be taking care of her. That is comforting.”

The Hoffman’s moved to Ohio from West Virginia and say that the opportunities for Gretchen here far exceeded anything they had experienced before. Because of that Gretchen far exceeded any individual goals they had expected for her. Connie was happy to quickly get involved with The ARC of Stark County and the state board of The ARC and Richard became involved with the Stark County Board of Developmental Disabilities. “This allowed us the opportunity to understand the services provided in the area through the DD community

and how they could better serve and help Gretchen,” says Richard. “Our goal throughout this whole experience is to make sure Gretchen has the best life she can possibly have and we can ensure that best life will continue throughout her life.” “All special needs people are very important and deserve all of the love and compassion that we as a community can muster for them. We must advocate for them with everything that we have.” Obviously before Gretchen was born, the Hoffman’s were not expecting this life for their daughter. They say it is however the life they have accepted and they could not be any happier of her. Richard gushes, “Gretchen was placed in this world to change people and she does that every day. She made us better parents and made her brother a better brother and person. Anybody that becomes involved with Gretchen leaves being a better person and she does this without being able to utter a syllable or from a sentence. That is the beauty of Gretchen and the essence of

her personality. If every person involved with her could harness a small amount of her beauty, how much better we all would be.”

So while she may not be living with them anymore, the Hoffman’s clearly don’t stop advocating for their beautiful daughter and sharing her story. Perhaps a little perspective has helped them to not only allow Gretchen to thrive on her own but themselves as well. For anyone who is struggling with the decision to move their special needs child to a group home setting, let the Hoffman’s be an inspiration to you and do your research on where you are looking to move your child. Don’t feel guilty if you have the right place you and your special needs child deserve the opportunity to live independently. And peace of mind for long-term planning is key as well. Gretchen may be grown now, but the Hoffman’s continue her goal of continuing to experience the little things that bring her happiness and to spread joy in the world. “This is the beauty of Gretchen and why she was put in this world. Most individuals with special needs in the group like Gretchen have the same special qualities as she, we simply need to bring them out and let them express themselves as individuals and we need to understand they are special people also.” Special indeed!

Akron & Canton Special Needs Living 35

YGA Transportation

YGA Transportation is the leading medical transportation throughout Summit, Stark, Medina, Mahoning, Portage, Cuyahoga County. YGA Transportation services include: • Wheelchair • Recreational • Dialysis Transport •

and so much MORE!

Community Integration Day Program

The Community Integration Day Program offers a variety of activities designed to promote socialization and integration among individuals of all ages and abilities. The program provides structured activities, educational classes, socialization events, and recreational outings that are designed to facilitate the development of relationships, communication, and understanding. Participants are encouraged to explore their interests, express themselves, and learn new skills while engaging in meaningful activities with peers and staff. There is an emphasis on individualized and group learning experiences, building self-esteem, and developing meaningful relationships. The program is designed to help individuals become more independent, self-sufficient, and integrated into their community. It offers a safe and supportive environment where everyone can be successful. We offer HomeCare/HPC and MANY other services. Call Us Today for More Information!



Next to Kin offers hands-on employ-ability skills training that addresses personal care, self-determination, job readiness, recreation & leisure activities.


Next to Kin will assist individuals with their daily living activities in the individual's home. Duties performed at a place or residence may include housekeeping (laundry, dishes, meal prep, etc.). We can also assist with appointment making, nutrition, and personal care.


Respite is for individuals who are unable to care for themselves for a short-term basis, because of the absence or need for relief of those persons who normally provide care.


Next to Kin offers Adult Foster to individuals who are not capable of living alone. We provide a quality and private home setting.


Next to Kin provides support that promotes getting out and being involved in his/her community

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Introducing Roman Beltz Simply Through Images

Akron & Canton Special Needs Living 37 PICTURES

Self-Care Is One Of The Kindest Things We Can Do For Our Kids

Parenting is the journey of a lifetime and it’s marked by countless joys and hurdles along the way. Being a parent isn’t easy. Full stop. It can, however, become much more complex when you’re raising children with autism, or an autistic child, depending on your preferred terminology. My name is Rob Gorski, and I’ve been on this crazy parenting journey for nearly twenty-three years, with a decade of that time spent as a single parent.

My journey raising three autistic children has been a rollercoaster ride of advocacy battles, victories, and moments of sheer exhaustion. Much like you, I’ve grappled with the weight of responsibility while teetering on the edge of burnout. To be completely honest with you, I’ve experienced burnout far too many times and it can be a dark, scary, hopeless place.

We all know the saying “Kids come first no matter what”. It’s deeply ingrained in our society and while it’s well-intentioned, it’s also terribly misguided. Like many of you, I subscribed to that logic and learned the hard way that it simply wasn’t sustainable long term. I’ve realized that parenting autistic children is a marathon, not a sprint, and it’s only possible if I make myself a priority.

I used to feel selfish for even considering putting myself first.

However, my kids deserve the best version of me possible and I can only give that to them if I’m regularly putting back into my physical and emotional back accounts. The more I put back into myself, the more I can give. I came to realize that prioritizing myself isn’t selfcenteredness, it’s a necessary foundation for sustainable caregiving.

My relationship with self-care has been hit or miss over the years but after recently recovering from the worst period of caregiver burnout I can remember, I recommitted to prioritizing myself. I needed to make changes to my life and put self-care at the center. Going to the gym is my favorite form of self-care. Carving out a dedicated space in my daily routine has become a necessity. For me, it not just about physical fitness; it’s become a lifeline for my mental and physical health, helping me manage the insane levels of stress and anxiety I experience in my everyday life, not to mention my depression and ADHD symptoms.

The impact of my self-care routine is profound, radiating across all aspects of my life, especially in my caregiving role. The patience, resilience, and emotional equilibrium I gain through self-care centers me, clears my head, and helps me to be a better father to my kids.

I’ve been publicly advocating and working within the autism community since 2010 and I’m always asked about one piece of advice I have for parents. This is it: “Prioritize yourself.” Self-care doesn’t demand grand gestures; it’s about gradual, sustainable investments in your well-being. I like to relate it this way. We always make sure to top off the battery in our smartphone throughout the day, think of self-care as the recharge for your physical and emotional battery. One of the most important lessons I’ve learned along the way is that sometimes we need to be selfish before we can be selfless. My therapist told me that and it’s helped me to reframe the way I think about self-care. Don’t think of self-care as taking time away from your kids, think of it as one of the kindest things we can do for our kids because it helps to ensure that we can be here for them long term. My autism parenting journey has taught me so many things over the last twenty-three years. I’ve learned to never underestimate my kids because they will always surprise me. I’ve learned that I’m not defined by my parenting mistakes, and while I’m never going to be a perfect parent, I’m the perfect person to parent my kids and the same goes for you.

40 October 2023


CLW provides opportunities to build skills and make money. Whether you want to work towards community employment or are happy being in a more supportive environment, CLW is the place to be. We provide training using the I CAN WORK curriculum. We also offer a safe and comfortable space for those who are interested in socializing and making friends through relationship building, activities and outings. Follow us on Facebook and TikTok!

Looking For Fun & Exciting Ways To Spend Your Day? PREMIER APPROACH IS THE PLACE FOR YOU! CALL TO SCHEDULE A TOUR! 330-312-6909 | premierapproach@gmail.com 2056 Wales Rd NE | Massillon, OH 44646 We o er a variety of community activities, all of which are chosen by participants of the program. At Premier Approach you’ll enjoy a fun, friendly & relaxed atmosphere. Get out and enjoy the things you already love, while also exploring other new and exciting opportunities. SERVICES PROVIDED: · Adult Day Support · Vocational Habilitation · Non-Medical Transportation • Secure Document Destruction • Individual, Bulk, and Master Repackaging • Light Assembly • Cycle Testing • Sorting and Inspection • Quality Control Our Vocational Services: Creative Learning Workshop Call: Jennie Msangi (330) 546-0057 For More Information Locations in Canton and Akron: 4465 Louisville St NE Canton, Ohio 44705 111 N. Broadway St. Akron, Ohio 44304 www.theclw.com Facebook The Creative Learning Workshop

Unleashing Joy and Confidence Through Dance THE ARTSPARKS JOURNEY

Have you ever wondered how a simple sway or an elegant twirl on the dance floor can lead to something much bigger than just graceful movements? Well, that’s the enchanting story of ArtSparks, a non-profit outreach organization that has been setting the stage on fire with its mission to make dance accessible to everyone while fostering creativity, community, and personal growth.

Picture this: a room filled with laughter, rhythm, and a contagious sense of belonging. That’s the atmosphere ArtSparks creates as it fulfills its heartfelt mission to bring the joy of dance to people of all ages and abilities. But this isn’t just about dance steps; it’s about discovering the power of expression, the thrill of pushing one’s limits, and the beauty of unity.

The Spark that Ignites the Dance Floor ArtSparks isn’t your ordinary dance program. It’s a movement that believes in the transformative potential of dance as an art form. Their mission is simple yet profound: to inspire students, young and old, to strive for personal excellence through focused attention, creative exploration, and a strong sense of community. By stepping onto the dance floor, they’re stepping towards

becoming more confident, more joyful human beings than they were before.

With steady growth and unwavering commitment, ArtSparks now embraces over 2500 students annually. They’ve waltzed their way into every preschooler’s heart in the Akron Public Schools and swayed through the imaginations of 3rdgrade students in the Cuyahoga Falls Public Schools. But their reach doesn’t stop there – they’ve danced their way into the lives of 225 APS 1st - 5th-grade students with developmental disabilities and 225 typically developing peers. This dazzling journey extends to over 1100 children, thanks to partnerships with Summit County Libraries and community allies.

Dancing with Diversity and Unity

One of the crown jewels of ArtSparks is the “DYNAMITE DUOS Project.” Imagine the magic when children with developmental disabilities and their typically developing peers become dance partners, creating art through collaboration. This 30-week arts integration program is a testament to ArtSparks’ dedication to fostering teamwork, creativity, empathy, and discovery. The program culminates in performances that showcase each student’s unique talent and achievements.


This dance revolution extends into classrooms too. ArtSparks has partnered with 24 classrooms of 1st-5th grade students in the Akron Public Schools, combining special education students with typically developing peers. This powerful collaboration isn’t just about dance steps; it’s about nurturing an appreciation for diversity and opening minds to the beauty it brings.

More than Dance: a Community of Care ArtSparks doesn’t just stop in the classroom. Their commitment to inclusion and equity shines through in all their programs, including Ready Sparks, Kindergarten, Arts for All, and the lively summer Pop-Up classes. They believe in leading by example, and educating participants and the community alike to dispel misconceptions about disabilities. But, every worthy endeavor needs support. ArtSparks thrives on community backing – financial contributions, corporate sponsorships, and the helping hands of volunteers at performances and summer classes. Through these collaborations, they create engaging and accessible arts experiences designed to educate and foster social interactions for children with disabilities.

A Testimony of Impact

The impact of ArtSparks goes beyond the dance floor, touching lives in unexpected ways. APS Intervention Specialist, Jen Jackow, shared an experience of how ArtSparks’ teachings ripple into everyday life. A field trip with 4th-grade peer partners turned into a celebration of inclusion, cooperation, and understanding. The positive peer experiences, outside of the classroom, showcased the lasting impact of ArtSparks’ efforts.

Stepping into the Future

The journey of ArtSparks is like a dance – ever-evolving, full of energy, and filled with surprises. This fall, they’re taking another stride forward by launching an after-school program at The University of Akron. With each step, ArtSparks is expanding its reach, creating more opportunities for every child to experience the transformative power of dance.

So, whether you’re a dance enthusiast, a supporter of inclusion, or simply someone who believes in the magic of the arts, ArtSparks welcomes you with open arms. Because at ArtSparks, it’s not just about dance; it’s about nurturing joy, confidence, and a sense of belonging – one step at a time.

Akron & Canton Special Needs Living 43
44 October 2023 www.thefrogshop.net • 330-833-FROG 2 Year Anniversary Celebration! October 2-7, 2023 20% o everything in both stores. Stop in all week for anniversary specials & fun surprises! Frogs, Fun and Healthy Ponds Party at Our 2 Pads DIY 2nd Saturdays @ our Applegrove Pad • 20% o pond products • Q & A with a certified pond tech 437 Applegrove St. NW • North Canton, OH Hours: Tuesday and Thursday and the 2nd Saturday of each month, 10 am – 5 pm • Or call to schedule a shopping appointment. STEAM Indoor Play Center • 1278 S. Main St. • North Canton, OH (behind Abbott’s Bridal) Hours: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 10 am – 5 pm Follow us on Facebook @thefrogshopo cialpage for anniversary party details and our new store opening info! Visit our 2 locations!

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46 October 2023 We are now accepting students on both Jon Peterson and Autism Scholarships. · K-12 students welcome! · Contact us now for more info and to register Where Every Ability is Celebrated High-quality, research-based instruction with a vocational skill focus specialized for K-12 students with disabilities. Call us: (234) 678-9622 bhazlett@redlineadvocacy.com www.redlineadvocacy.com We moved! 1011 Gorge Blvd, Akron, OH 44310 SCAN CALL It's back to school time!

Question & Answer Session with Mark Trew

Q. Where do you work currently?

A. Goodwill Industries of Greater Cleveland and East Central Ohio

Q. What is your job title here?

A. Chief Operating Officer

Q.How long have you been employed with your current job?

A. 5 years

Q. How long have you been employed in this industry?

A. 16 years

Q. What were your previous jobs in the industry?

A. Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities & Alternative Paths Behavioral Health

Q. What is your educational background?

A. Bachelor’s degree in education M.B.A

Q. What other professional associations are you a member of? (Board of Directors, Volunteer organizations, etc)

A. Pegasus Farm Board of Directors Stark County TASC Board of Directors Ohio Area 16 Workforce Development Board (Carroll, Harrison, Jefferson, Belmont Counties)

Q. What do your day-to-day job responsibilities include?

A. I oversee Goodwill’s retail division and community services programming. I have the great fortune of

leading a talented team of people in the operation of Goodwill’s thrift stores across our ten-county territory. The proceeds from our stores go to support the work of Goodwill professionals who work daily to help people with barriers to employment find work in the community. In addition to this work, Goodwill supports over 28 programs providing vocational/employment services, parenting education programs, and rape crisis services. In addition to leading the retail and mission operations, I also get to lead the work of our human resources, facilities, and safety teams as they support Goodwill’s daily operations.

Q. What part of your job are you most passionate about?

A. As COO, I have the opportunity to interact with a lot of segments of Goodwill’s business on a daily basis, but my passion is for our mission programs. We have the unique opportunity every day to see lives changed for the better.

Q. What advice would you give to someone who is new to your field?

A. Everyone who gets into the human services field is first driven by their passion and desire to care for people. I would tell someone new to the field to make sure they don’t lose that passion or desire. Self-care is a really important part of that equation, so making

time for their own well-being is a must.

Q. What is your favorite success story you have seen?

A. I’m not sure that I can nail down just one favorite success store, but I will say that I really appreciate seeing the sense of accomplishment when someone achieves a goal or earns their first paycheck. The “Power of Work” is something we talk about at Goodwill- there really is great power and dignity that can be achieved through meaningful work in the community!

Q. If you could go back and talk to yourself at the beginning of your career, what advice would you give yourself?

A. Talk less. Listen more. I think that being a good listener, whether hearing from program participants, peers, or team members provides the best opportunity to learn and gain insight to your work.

Q. What is something you would change in your field for the better if you could?

A. I would like to see those who provide services in the developmental disabilities and behavioral health service fields compensated the same way the rest of healthcare is compensated. For too long, government funding for these services has not provided an

equitable wage. Our direct support professionals are important to many in the community and that should be recognized.

Q. What has been the biggest factor in your career success?

A. The people I have had the opportunity to work with over the years. When I think about the awesome talent, I have had the opportunity to work alongside or lead it is quite amazing! Nobody achieves success on their own. Without the support of your team, family, and friends- it’s impossible to be at the top of your game. My wife, Melissa, has been a major factor in my career success as well.

Q. What is your favorite non-profit organization or volunteer opportunity?

A. Obviously, I am partial to Goodwill Industries and the work we do in the community. If someone is looking to find employment or gain new skills for work, Goodwill provides a wide array of services to get them prepared. You can get connected at www. goodwillgoodskills.org.

Akron & Canton Special Needs Living 47
Chief Operating Officer of Goodwill Industries of Greater Cleveland and East Central Ohio


Daily Focus'

Monday- Money & ME (Self advocacy)

Tuesday- Talking & Technology Skills

Wednesday- What's Happening & Workout Skils

Thursday- Cooking (tasty) & Safety Skills

Friday- Funday Activities

Non-Medical-Transport (NMT)

Teammates Center offers Transportation for individuals in many cities who attend Teammates.

Soft Skills

Teammates Center helps individuals focus on job skills by doing mock interviews, practice job applications, community based volunteer sites, to help improve the skills of your teammate to increase their chances of getting a job of their choice.

Adult Day Services (ADS)

Teammates Center Provides Adult Day Services for your Teammate improve their independence.

Funday Friday

Teammates Center offers activities to bowling alleys, putt putt courses, the zoo, pumpkin patches, art museums, swimming pools, and many other activities chose by individuals who attend Teammates Center.

Vocational Habilitation (VOC-HAB)

Teammates Center Provides Vocational Habilitation Services for your Teammate to better their job skills

Volunteer Job Activities

Teammates Center has many non-paid volunteer job opportunities for individuals who attend Teammates. The VOC-HAB program focus' on individuals who are close to getting jobs and helps improve their skill set by volunteering at sites for an extended period of time to help improve their work stamina.

Teammates Center 323 S Main St, Munroe Falls, Suite 1 Ohio 44262 (234) 571-5876 • http://Teammatescenter.org

VOC-HAB Recorded Data

Teammates Center keeps records/data of each individual to track the improvement in areas such as quality of work, stamina, communication. We individualize our support to meet the need of the person served. Our goal is to increase the independence of the people coming to Teammates so they can gain competitive employment.

Volunteer Activities See Continuing Ed. Activities Section of website for more information.

Akron & Canton Special Needs Living 49

The Old You

Oftentimes, we are taught about the grief that parents have to endure when they receive a diagnosis for their child. We are taught that there will be times when we cry over the fact that we simply did not have the child we imagined when we were expecting. All the dreams and ambitions that parents hold for their children turn into “what if” and “now what?”. It sounds so harsh to the typical world, to mourn or grieve a child we envisioned having, but as a parent to a special needs child, it’s a reality. And while we hear those words “it’s okay to grieve the child envisioned”, why don’t we hear “it’s okay to mourn the parent you thought you were going to be.”.

Being a special needs parent is the most rewarding and loving job, but there comes a point where sadness can take over. We protect and love our kids like wild animals protecting their young, but who is protecting

you? Who is standing in your corner telling you that it’s okay to be sad? Sad that you are not the mom or dad that you always wanted to be. So many parents have given up their career choices, their degrees, their outings with friends, to become this solitude of a person, for the sake of their child. At what point are parents allowed to envision what life was like before? The mom who worked as an EMT while going to school to be a Paramedic but had to quit to raise their special needs child. The mom who was the nurse, and a darn good nurse, but quit so she could be the nurse for her own child. The mom who wanted to be a stay at home mom but realized the child’s needs exceeded her capabilities. The dad who wanted the 9-5pm job so he could be home each night but is now working 2 or 3 jobs just to pay for therapies and medical devices. To the dad who dreamed of coaching his kid’s t-ball team, but instead is teaching their

kid to catch a ball through physical and occupational therapy sessions. These old visions of life tend to get swept away while fully and willingly taking on the position of a new life. A life never expected, but never regretted. A life that fulfills the happiness and wonder that could never have been achieved in prior lifetime visions. It’s a life that has taught parents how to be stronger and better, eager and determined. It’s a life of no quitting. Embracing this life is magical in the saddest way. It means you give up who you thought you once were going to become. And that is okay to admit.

It is okay to cry, mourn, grieve, and miss who you once were. It is ok to think of that old version of you and say, “I miss you”. That old version of you helped make up who you are today. You are not alone in your thoughts; you are not alone in your tears and sadness. It is ok to miss you!

50 October 2023
Akron & Canton Special Needs Living 51 Creative Rehab is CARF accredited and partners with Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities (OOD), a state agency, to help individuals with disabilities get and keep jobs in the community. Your Job is Our Business 330-806-0497 | www.creativerehab.info
Akron & Canton Special Needs Living 53




On August 11th, The Chapel in Green held their 7th Annual Jesus Prom with a Totally 80’s theme. The event was a huge success with 200 guests, including providers and parents. Everyone had a great time and there were plenty of smiles to go around. It’s hard to say who enjoyed the evening more, the volunteers or the guests, as everyone danced, played games, rode on the party bus, got their face painted, and even had the chance to see some small farm animals. A beautiful painting of fingerprints surrounding the lyrics “I Can See The Fingerprints Of God When I Look At You.” was created, representing that we are all created in God’s image. Parents were also able to enjoy themselves with some diner food and massages while they watched their loved ones have a great time. The Chapel in Green is excited to host the event once again in August 2024.

56 October 2023
Akron & Canton Special Needs Living 57 Sharing Solutions IDD Support Group for Families, Caregivers & Professionals Contact us TODAY to RSVP for the next meeting and receive email reminders! jodi@sharingsolutions.info Follow Us On Facebook! MARK YOUR CALENDARS Before arriving check the Sharing Solutions Facebook page for cancellations. Next Group Meeting: Tuesday, Oct 17 5:00 pm Social Hour | 6:00 pm Meeting

Financial Planning for a Child with Special Needs SKYLIGHT FINANCIAL

Financial planning for a child with special needs can be overwhelming, but the right help and early preparation can make a big difference for you and your child’s future. With 12+ years of experience, Skylight Financial Planner Katy Bryan, PhD, CEPA, ChSNC, has worked with many families who have children with special needs/ disabilities. We recently sat down with her to talk about the best financial planning practices for our families.

It is crucial to know what special needs planning is and how it differs from more traditional planning. Typically, a family plans for retirement, primary or secondary education, paying off debt, long-term disability, long-term care, and life events that may happen, Katy explained. However, families of a child with special needs must plan for their own lifetime needs, in addition to their child’s lifetime needs, preparing two long-term care plans.

Katy’s solution is thinking through seven key questions, giving families confidence in their financial future. These questions are designed to think through during the lifetime of a child with special needs. Some questions are good to know when the child is a baby while other questions may not be answered until they are closer to adulthood.

1. Is my child registered with the County Disability Board? Do I qualify for any benefits/waivers? Registering allows you to receive information from the county board on what new federal changes are being made, benefits that may be important to apply for early on, and any programs you may be eligible for.

2. If something happened to me and I could no longer take care of my child, who would physically and emotionally be able to take care of my child in the way that I would want them to be taken care of?

We all have family and friends who we think would take care of our children, but have you ever asked them? Using a letter of intent, which talks about your day-to-day life and your child, may help open that conversation and make sure they are ready emotionally, physically, and financially if they are ever needed.

3. What financial resources would my family need to maintain the lifestyle, medical costs, therapies, etc., that they currently receive if I could no longer provide these?

Determining the cost of care is different for every family. Talking through what is important to your family with a financial professional can help you determine what amount may be needed, what options are available to fund that need, and government programs are available that can help ease those financial needs. Have you looked into the ABLE accounts to see if they are a fit for your family or talked with a special needs estate planner on whether a special needs trust is needed? ABLE accounts and trusts are tools that allow your child to have assets in their name or under the trust and still receive government benefits.

58 October 2023
It is crucial to know what special needs planning is and how it differs from more traditional planning.

4. Who will manage my child’s financial funds if I cannot manage them due to death or disability, and how do I make sure those funds are set aside specifically for my child with special needs? Some friends and family are great with kids, and others are great with numbers, and some are great with both. Determining who will manage your child’s funds is important—you want to be sure the funds are used in the way you would like them to be used and don’t get lost due to divorce, death, or misuse of funds.

5. Are my retirement plan and LongTerm Care plan in good order?

When you plan for yourself, you are planning for your children. If you haven’t saved enough to live on through retirement or don’t know the best way to take social security, you may not be able to leave funds necessary for your child’s care. This can resort to using funds that you had intended to be reserved for your child. For your own long-term care. Planning for the unknown is essential for all parties involved.

6. What lifestyle do I want for my child as they grow into adulthood? Will they be able to work? Have social experiences? Live on their own?

Every child is unique in their abilities. Some families want their child to live with them for as long as possible, others want their child to have some independence with support, and some need 24-hour care with a lot of support. Many parents forget that when their child turns 22, if they are not working and the parent still is, that they need to find care for their child. Thinking through what you want their life to look like and researching early helps with this critical transition.

7. Where will my child live as they become an adult? Where will they live as I age or if I need Long-Term Care? This question has become increasingly predominant in planning. There are more options today where adults can live than there were 10 years ago. With new hybrid housing models, farm communities, and other small group home models, there is more opportunity and choice. However, the availability is often limited due to upfront costs or a long waiting list. Again, research early and get on a list early.

Katy can be reached at 216-297-5810 or at kbryan@financialguide.com. CRN202304-281804

Akron & Canton Special Needs Living 59
Katy’s solution is thinking through seven key questions, giving families confidence in their financial future.
60 October 2023 Special Needs Ohio wants to be part of your village. So welcome to the family . . . we look forward to connecting. SUBSCRIBE Visit listen.specialneedsohio.com for more info. New Episodes Every Friday! It’s Free | It’s Fun | It’s Family What You Can Expect: Tons of valuable information about people, places, agencies, and organizations that exist to support our families. What You’ll Find on Our Podcast: Interviews that educate, inspire, and provide hope, direction, and a connection to a fantastic community you might not even know is all around you. TUNE IN SHARE 330-966-7226 | www.brightmindsla.com | brightmind111@gmail.com | 5368 Fulton Dr. NW, Canton, OH SERVICES • ACT/SAT Prep • Math Enrichment • Creative Writing • Comprehensive Reading • Complete Homework Support • Pre School Learning (ages 3-5) • Spanish Tutoring • Science • Sharpen Study Skills We Offer: Personalized Learning Plan (PLP) MENTION THIS AD TO RECEIVE $20 OFF EXPIRES 10/02/23 Right! Start the School Year Off Offering Homework Help Everyday! NOW OFFERING CLASSES IN AKRON, OHIO, ALSO!


Akron & Canton Special Needs Living 61 Job Development Job Coaching Community Based Assessments Career Exploration Follow Along Services Travel Training Ohio Employment First Program ENRICHING LIVES THROUGH EMPLOYMENT Contact us TODAY to learn more: 330-388-5778 independentemploy.com malcolm@independentemploy.com Securities and advisor y ser vices o ered through MWA Financial Ser vices Inc., a wholly owned subsidiar y of Modern Woodmen of America. Member: FINRA, SIPC. I can help you plan for life Let's talk Modern Woodmen of America Travis J. Dezordo, FIC Canal Fulton, OH 44614 B 330-277-2949, C 330-704-6211 travis.j.dezordo@mwarep.org reps.modernwoodmen.org/tdezordo
Planning for a comfor table retirement doesn’t have to be over whelming. Discover the peace of mind that comes from retirement planning with a local Modern Woodmen representative. And enjoy the sense of purpose that comes from giving back to your community. You got this Because you have us
the rewards of a life well-lived.

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62 October 2023
Page 42 ArtSparks Joe Albert & Roman Julian Curet At The Jesus Prom Page 37 Roman Beltz Page 54 The Jesus Prom Page 22 Ethan Schubert Page 34 Gretchen Hoffman
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