May 2024

Page 1

20+ Summer Camps

2 WNY Family May 2024 Featuring: • Recreational Gymnastics: Beginner to Advanced • Competition Teams: USAG • Gym-Tots (3-4 years) • Gym-Kids (5 years) BUFFALO TURNERS GYMNASTICS 3200 Elmwood Ave. Kenmore, NY 716-877-2700 CALL Celebrating 171 YEARS! The Original Fun Family Movie Experience... WWW.TRANSITDRIVEIN.COM 625-8535 Call or visit our website for movies and showtimes on the biggest and brightest screens in WNY!


Paul M. Kline


Paul M. Kline


Karen Wawszczyk


Michelle Richter


Michele Miller


Barbara Blackburn • Donna Phillips

Shannon Carpenter • Deborah Williams

Mike Daugherty • Meagan Ruffing

Where It’s At!

Happy Mother’s Day


6 n Make Mom’s Day Special from Start to Finish! by Rebecca Hastings

8 n Create the Mother’s Day You Want by Rebecca Hastings

9 n Five Things My Mom Is Still Teaching Me by Gina Rich

10 n Give Family Camp a Try! by Rebecca Hastings

50 n Signs Your Kids Need to See a Pediatric Eye Doctor by Tanni Haas, Ph.D.

52 n How to Turn Time Wasters into an Opportunity for Mindfulness by Sandi Schwartz

21 n THE FAMILY RESOURCE GUIDE A Special Pull-Out Section


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15 n Summer Camps


5 n Web Finds / What’s New In The Kid Biz

12 n Family Travel

Celebrate the Centennial of NYS Parks by Deborah Williams

37 n Raising Digital Kids

Distracted Parenting: Addressing Smartphone Use in Modern Families by Mike Daugherty

38 n The Daddy Track

I Played Baseball with My Kids and Nuns by Shannon Carpenter

39 n Parent Previews by Kirsten Hawkes

40 n Pick of the Literature by Dr. Donna Phillips

42 n Dear Teacher by Peggy Gisler & Marge Eberts

44 n Single Parenting

All My Single Moms by Meagan Ruffing

45 n Tweens and Teens

A Letter to My Teenager’s Car by Katy M. Clark

46 n Special Needs

What It’s Like to Live with Tics and Tourette Syndrome by Cheryl Maguire

54 n Family Flavors

Unite Loved Ones with a Luscious Dessert

55 n The Kiddie Gourmet Three Sisters Cafe by Barbara Blackburn

the store foyer.)

May 2024 WNY Family 3
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Mother’s Day is just around the corner. If you are still looking for that special gift to show Mom just how much you love her and appreciate all she does, consider something personalized and from the heart. Here are just a few unique items we found that will make Mom’s Day memorable – all for under $25.00!

What I Love About Mom Journal

This little book from Knock Knock has a lot of heart! Inside are dozens of statements where kids fill in the blanks to describe why their mom is the absolute best, such as “If I had to describe you in one word, it’d be ____________.” and “I always want to hear what you’re going to say about ____________.” Children will have lots of fun coming up with words, silly or heartfelt, to complete each line — and Mom will have a personalized gift that she will, no doubt, love reading again and again. (Amazon, $9.99)

Personalized Mom Puzzle Sign

This beautiful piece of wall art shows that Mom is the heart and center of the family puzzle that holds everyone together. This is a gift that can be customized to include Mom’s name and the names of her children (up to nine), plus your own unique message to Mom. There are seven different styles to choose from and three different sizes – 6 x 8 inches, 8 x 10 inches, or 10 x 12 inches. (Amazon, $19.99)

First Mother’s Day Picture Frame

A Mom’s first Mother’s Day is a once in a lifetime event. Commemorate the occasion with a personalized “First Mother’s Day” Picture Frame. This is a longlasting keepsake that will preserve a sweet moment with Mom and baby on her first Mother’s Day. There are four different designs to choose from and the frame can be customized with the names of Mom and baby, plus the year of the first celebrated Mother’s Day. (Amazon, $24.95)

Personalized Star Wars Lightsaber Sign

Is Mom a Star Wars fan? Let her know that the force is with her with this personalized “I Am Their Mother” sign. (A play on Darth Vader’s classic line “I am your Father” — if she’s a fan, she’ll get the joke!) Up to five lightsabers, containing the names of each of mom’s children, can be featured on the sign and it comes with its own elegant wooden base. (Amazon, $18.99)


The Buffalo Zoo is proudly announcing its new Zoo for All program, a bold initiative offering significantly reduced admission rates for low-income families and individuals amidst adjustments to its admission prices.

The Zoo for All initiative is designed to ensure everyone has the opportunity to experience the wonders and educational benefits of visiting the Zoo. The Buffalo Zoo worked with many community partners and leaders to develop a program that removes financial barriers and provides a variety of inclusive experiences, making the Zoo accessible and affordable to all members of the community.

Key Components of the Zoo for All Program:

• Discounted admission offered to qualified low-income families and individuals through presentation of SNAP Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card.

• Additional discounts available through partnerships with Buffalo and Erie County Library System and the Arts Services Inc.

• Learning opportunities, designed for diverse learning styles, that will encourage exploration and understanding of the natural world.

• Free or reduced pricing days subsidized through sponsorships throughout the year that will provide opportunities for families to come together and celebrate the wonders of wildlife.

The Buffalo Zoo also recently announced adjustments to its admission prices. This decision comes after careful consideration and will allow the Zoo to continue providing exceptional animal care, expand learning opportunities, and enhance the overall guest experience in line with the Zoo’s other offerings.

For a complete breakdown of the new admission prices and the Zoo for All program, please visit

May 2024 WNY Family 5
What’s New... IN THE KIDBIZ web.finds

Make Mom’s Day Special from Start to Finish!

Some people love celebrating the mom in their life for Mother’s Day, but others find it overwhelming. Where do you start? Should you get a gift? What is her favorite flower? There are so many things to consider. A lot of people get so overwhelmed, they go one of two directions: they do the same thing every year or they do nothing. Both options can leave Mom feeling a bit disappointed.

You don’t have to get stuck. With a bit of thought and planning, you can make Mother’s Day special from start to finish. This works in three parts. First, you’ll answer some questions. Next, some quick brainstorming. Finally, you’ll put it all together to create a plan for a great Mother’s Day. You can do it all in about fifteen minutes. Ready?

Let’s Start with the Questions

There are some things you should know as you get started. This will help you know what you’re doing and why. As you read the questions, jot down your answers.


Knowing this is essential. Is there one mom you’re celebrating or more

than one? Are you celebrating grandmas? Who will be part of your Mother’s Day plans?


Some families purchase gifts for Mother’s Day while others opt for experiences or homemade gifts. What does the mom in your life want?


Some moms love having a break with some time to themselves on Mother’s Day while others want to spend the whole day with their family. If you’re not sure what the mom in your life wants, ask her.


Mother’s Day usually involves at least one meal. Think about how you want to handle that. Will you cook or eat out? If you plan to eat out, making a reservation in advance saves a lot of hassle as it’s a popular day at many restaurants. If you are going to cook, make a list and shop for what you need BEFORE Mother’s Day so you don’t need to go to the store on the day of. Most moms

have no desire to visit a grocery store on Mother’s Day.


This is one of the most overlooked things on Mother’s Day, but many moms long for rest. Would she like to sleep in? Would she enjoy a quiet afternoon nap? Does she need to go to bed early and get a full night’s sleep? Think about how you can make these things happen.


This is very important. If she asked for something and you can make that happen, that makes things even easier. If she doesn’t ask for anything, don’t pressure her. Instead, think about her and what she would enjoy.

Don’t rush through these questions. It may be tempting to skim them and say you’ll figure it out later but don’t do that. Knowing the answers to these questions will save a lot of last-minute headaches.

It’s Time to Brainstorm

Now that you have some questions answered, it’s time to brainstorm ideas about what the mom in your life would

6 WNY Family May 2024

enjoy. And that’s the key: what would SHE enjoy? If this day is about her (and it is) you want to make sure the things you do are things she enjoys that make her feel loved and valued.

Try brainstorming 3-5 ideas for each of the following:

1. Foods: List foods/drinks she might enjoy. This could be a meal like brunch, a favorite treat, or her favorite fancy coffee drink.

2. Places: Write down some of her favorite local places. Think about parks, stores, beaches, museums, or other places she enjoys.

3. Gifts: List anything special you’d like to give her as a gift. Think about things that would make her happy and she would enjoy receiving. (Avoid household related gifts.)

4. Helpful Activities: Think of some things the family can do that would be helpful. Household chores or small projects like gardening are great places to start.

Write down these quick brainstorms and see what you have. Do any of them fit together well? Is her favorite coffee shop next to the bookstore she loves? Could you go to the garden center and then plant her new flowers? Be mindful of how a few of these things can work together to create a special day.

Put It All Together

Now that you have more information about what would make the day special for the mom in your life, you can create a plan. You don’t have to have a schedule for the whole day, but you can think about what you want to do and when.

A good strategy is to break the day into three parts: morning, midday, and evening. Each one of these can be part of one big plan or they can each have a different purpose. This works especially well if you are trying to spend time with grandma or other moms in your life, too.

Write down your plan for the day and then check to make sure it aligns with the answers to the questions at the beginning. You don’t want to plan a hike if mom wants to spend the day relaxing in bed. Be mindful of how each part of the day shows her that she is special.

Ideas to Help You Plan a Great Mother’s Day

As you consider the three steps above, here are some ideas for meaningful ways to spend Mother’s Day.

1. Day Trip: Plan a day out of town. Head somewhere special as a family for the day. Include places she enjoys and food she likes. Don’t wait and decide as you go. Make a plan. You can always change course if you need to along the way.

2. A Day for Her: If she craves some alone time, give her a day to herself. Take the kids out and leave her with a quiet house or stay home with the kids and send her off to spend the day doing things she loves. You can make appointments for her at a spa if that is something she enjoys.

3. Family Time: If you’re celebrating other moms in your life on Mother’s Day, don’t leave all the work to her. Instead, plan out a meal and invite people over or make a reservation for the whole group. Also, talk to her about any gifts you should purchase for the other moms in your life.

4. Make It a Mix: Start the day by letting her sleep in and making or ordering her favorite breakfast. Enjoy the morning to relax at home. At lunch, head out for a picnic or to a favorite restaurant and visit someplace she enjoys. This could be a place like a park, a museum, or a store. Enjoy an early dinner by inviting the other moms in your life over. Be sure to do all the cleanup so the kitchen is spotless for Mom the next morning!

There are so many ways you can spend Mother’s Day. With a little planning ahead and considering what Mom would enjoy, she’s sure to have a great day!

Rebecca Hastings is a former elementary teacher who traded the classroom for writing when she stayed home with her three children. Passionate about authenticity, faith, and family, you can find her at and on Amazon. In real life, she can often be found typing words, driving her kids places, or wherever there is chocolate.

May 2024 WNY Family 7

Does anyone else feel like Mother’s Day is more about what your kids want to do for you than what you might actually like? It feels wrong just saying that. I know I should be grateful for what they do.

Sure, I love the chance to “sleep in” while I hear them making me breakfast in bed. Yes, I treasure the homemade cards and gifts. I save them to look back on. I even enjoy whatever activity or place they plan for the day. I love it all. And yet, there are things I want to do that might look different from what my kids think I want.

For years, I didn’t say anything. I simply enjoyed the blessing of the day. Truly. But then I did something radical. A few days before Mother’s Day, I told my family one thing I wanted. It wasn’t big. It was a simple request for what to have for dinner. And guess what? I got it. That night my husband and kids made me exactly what I asked for. And it felt great.

Before you think you couldn’t possibly do that, or that your family wouldn’t be able to make you dinner, stop and consider how you handle their special days. Do you ask them something they might want? Does it help you when they tell you? I know it helps me. When my kids tell me the dinner they want for their birthday it saves me the trouble of guessing, hoping that I pick the right “favorite” for that day. What if telling your family something you want helps them too?

3 Tips for Creating the Mother’s Day You Want

If Mother’s Day is about you, shouldn’t it make YOU happy? Here are three simple tips to try to help you create a day that makes you (and your family) happy. And if you’re worried it won’t work, tip three has you covered!

1. Plan Ahead

Before your family can know what you want, you need to know what you want. Take some time to think about something that would make you happy for Mother’s Day. Is it a certain gift? Do you want to sleep in? Is there somewhere you want to go or a special meal you’d like to have? Don’t try to plan the whole day, just think of one thing you want. This allows your family to do things they think of while still giving you something that will make you happy.

Identify one or two things you want for Mother’s Day. Consider whether your family can make it happen. If so, plan when you’ll talk to them about it. Ideally, this is 3-5 days before Mother’s Day for simple things and 1-2 weeks ahead for gifts. If it’s not something they can realistically do, save that idea to make it happen yourself and think of something they can do.

Create the Mother’s Day You Want

2. Ask Clearly and Kindly

This is usually the most awkward part, especially if you have a hard time saying what you want. You need to tell your family. Many moms feel uncomfortable expressing something they want. They often think they should just leave it up to the kids or their spouse. Then they wonder why they feel let down at the end of the day. You don’t have to do that. You can express your request clearly and with kindness.

Remember, this is not a time to drop hints. You need to be direct so they listen to you and understand what you are asking for. A great way to do that is by saying,

“I’m excited for Mother’s Day. I always love it when you ______ (Say something they do that brings you joy. For example: surprise me in the morning, make a homemade card, take me out, etc.)

One thing I would love this year is ______ (Say what you want. Make it clear and something they can do. For example, to have Thai takeout, go for a hike, have an hour to read my book, etc.) Can we make that happen?”

3. Have a Backup Plan

I would love to say that your wish will be granted. But we’re moms and we know better. Sometimes your family won’t do what you ask for. They may not understand. They may get wrapped up in their own ideas. The best way to handle that is two-fold:

* Be grateful — Do your best to enjoy however the day unfolds. Wallowing in disappointment or

continued on page 11

8 WNY Family May 2024

My mom passed away in 2004 — one year after I got married and five years before my first child was born. Though I’ve missed my mother even more since becoming a parent myself, I’ve realized over the years that she is still sharing her wisdom with me.

My Mom Is Still Teaching Me Five Things

Here are some of the things she’s helped me to learn:

Sometimes it’s a lot more fun to embrace the chaos.

I like things to be orderly, so I tend to take immediate action if I notice an overflowing laundry basket or a rogue dirty dish in the sink. But growing up, I don’t recall my mother ever worrying that our home was messy or disorganized. I do remember slumber parties where 20 or so pre-teen girls careened through the living room, eating pizza and laughing wildly. There were also countless family fondue and spaghetti nights, decorations strewn about the house during the holidays, and a plethora of pets that could have qualified as a mini zoo. These are the flashes of childhood that stand out in my mind, reminding me it’s okay to hit the pause button in my constant quest for order and just enjoy the moment with my kids.

Cultivating friendships with other parents often takes a bit of bravery.

Shortly after getting married in Chicago, my mom and dad moved to California to settle in a community where they had no family or close connections. As a writer and reporter, my mom would use the trick of interviewing people if she felt nervous about meeting someone new. When my husband, our two

daughters and I moved to Wisconsin, my mom’s experience helped motivate me to connect with others, even in awkward or embarrassing situations. In fact, I met a close mom friend in a rather ungraceful way: My daughter tried to bite her son on the first day of preschool. After my mortified apology, I quickly decided to strike up a conversation, which paved the way for our friendship (and luckily, much more amicable play dates!).

It’s okay to show your kids when you’re hurting.

Before we became the astonishingly (okay, reasonably) mature adults we are today, my brother, sister and I had some epic fights; in our family of five people, there was always ample opportunity for conflict. I remember my mom sitting on the couch next to me after one particularly high-decibel argument. She didn’t yell. She didn’t lay out punishments. Instead, she said quietly, “It hurts my heart when we fight.” When I heard the sadness in her voice, I suddenly understood the true impact of my actions. On days when my kids’ bickering makes me want to climb the walls, my first instinct is to shout even louder than them and threaten to confiscate their favorite toys. But then I think of my mom, and I remember that there are different ways to respond to conflict and bad behavior. Sometimes our kids need to know that we’re not invincible.

Everyone benefits when parents are able to pursue meaningful interests outside of caring for their kids.

My mom founded our community newspaper, and she also volunteered at local homeless shelters and for city organizations. With the blissful ignorance of a child, I once asked her, “Mom, why do you want to spend so much time away from your family? Don’t you like us?” I didn’t understand it then, but now I know that when you become a parent, the person you were “B.C.” (Before Children) can sometimes get lost. As I observed my mom taking on projects that were important to her, I realized that there was more to the world than the comfortable bubble in which I was growing up. I still sometimes feel guilty when I take time away from my kids because of other commitments, but I’m learning to put that aside.

A little humor — and a lot of coffee — goes a long way in managing the emotional rollercoaster that is motherhood.

When I was five years old, my mom took me for a haircut. I was not pleased, and spent weeks afterward lamenting the brutal loss of my long tresses, crying to my mom that she had undoubtedly ruined my life. Later, in my teenage years, my weekend-long sulk fests probably had my parents searching for the nearest continued on page 11

May 2024 WNY Family 9

Give Family Camp a Try!

Imagine a vacation where everyone in your family can have fun, find something to do, and spend more time outdoors. Now, add some s’mores and let someone else cook. That’s what you can discover with family camp.

Escaping the daily routine to a beautiful place with fun activities is what summer camp is all about. While kids are often the ones to enjoy summer camp, it can be a great way for the whole family to get away, connect, and have fun together.

One of the most fun things you can do with your child is to be a kid again. At family camp, you can play and have fun together doing all the same things kids get to do during summer camp.

Is the Family Together the Whole Time at Family Camp?

That depends on the camp. Some camps are all about family time. The camp simply provides the space, activities, and food for your family to enjoy together. Other camps, however, take a different approach by offering age-specific activities at certain times of the day.

What Is Family Camp?

Family camp is summer camp made for the whole family. Instead of kids going off to camp on their own, families travel together, often staying in their own cabins or lodging. They enjoy a camp setting, complete with things like arts and crafts, archery, swimming, games, and food. By going to a family camp, the whole family can focus on fun and being together instead of worrying about vacation details.

For example, there may be specific children’s programming every afternoon, allowing parents time to relax. Other camps may offer adult-specific activities during these times like advanced hikes, classes, or even happy hour.

Think about your family and what you want for your family camp experience. Is your primary goal spending time together? Are you hoping for your kids to having a traditional camp experience, giving you a bit of a break for some rest and relaxation? Maybe you fall somewhere in the middle. When researching camps, look at the programming available. Many camps will offer sample itineraries noting activities that are specific to adults, kids, or the whole family.

What Are Some Great Family Camps to Consider?

You can find fun family camp experiences all over the world. Look for

places that are geared specifically to families and offer camp like experiences. Think about summer camp activities that your family would enjoy. Consider new locations you’ve never been or look for unique experiences like sleeping in covered wagons or an old train caboose. Some camps even offer adult extras like massages and cocktail hours. It all depends on what you and your family are looking for.

Here are some great family camp options to get you started:

• Club Getaway (Kent, Connecticut) offers weekend and midweek family camp options that are full of adventure. With zip lines, waterskiing, and fitness classes, the whole family can have fun as they stay in rustic cabins. ( programs/family-camp/)

• Cheley Colorado Camps (Estes Park, Colorado) has all the fun of western mountain life for the family to explore. Horseback riding and

10 WNY Family May 2024
— by Rebecca Hastings

campfires are on the daily itinerary, and your family is sure to remember sleeping in a covered wagon. (

• Tyler Place Family Resort (Highgate Springs, Vermont) is a great place for the family to get outside and enjoy a lake vacation. There are fun activities for the whole family ranging from camp classics like color wars and canoeing to minigolf and bikes for everyone. (

• Peaks N Swells (Costa Rica) gets the whole family out of the country and onto the waves. This surf camp features beachfront villas, surf instruction, daily yoga, professional photos, and even massage for the parents. (.surfcamppeaksnswells. com/family-surf-camp/)

Start by checking out these fun possibilities. Then do an internet search for Family Camp or reach out to your travel agent. You’re sure to find something perfect for your whole family.

Why Should My Family Go to Family Camp?

The best reason to go to family camp is to have fun together! There are plenty of perks like the ease of an allinclusive vacation, a trip with something for everyone, and a way to get everyone outside and off their screens. However, the part that is the most fun is giving everyone a chance to be a kid again. Once your kids see you play tug-of-war, shoot a bow and arrow, or spend an afternoon making friendship bracelets, they will know how fun and special time together can be.


getting angry won’t be enjoyable for you or your family. Take whatever they offer as a gift and express your gratitude.

* Do the thing you wanted — It may not happen on Mother’s Day, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do what you asked for. If you want a certain type of takeout, get it the next night. Need some time to relax and read your book? Take an hour for yourself this week. Rally the troops for that hike you wanted. Buy your favorite flower. Whatever it is, you can make it happen and enjoy it.

Remember, the day may not go completely as you hope. Your family may do exactly what you ask for or they may drop the ball. But at the end of the day, you can enjoy what your family offers and do the thing that makes you happy. While Mother’s Day is a day for your family to celebrate you, it’s also a great day for YOU to celebrate YOU!


insane asylum. But rather than getting pulled into my mood swings, often my mom would simply pour another cup of coffee, smile and laugh it off. When I’m having a tough day with the kids, I can still hear my mom’s impossibly cheerful voice saying, “Laugh it off!” I don’t always succeed in taking her advice, but in those moments when I do, I know I’m weathering the storm with a lighter heart.

I’ll always be grateful that my mom played such a big part in shaping who I am as a mother. And I hope I never stop learning from her.

Gina Rich lives in Wisconsin, where she writes about parenting, health, and the natural world. Her work appears in the Washington Post, Notre Dame Magazine, Next Avenue, and other outlets. Connect with Rich on her website

Celebrate these FUN DAYS during the month of






30th Play in the

Sand Day

May 28th National Hamburger Day

May 2024 WNY Family 11
Teachers’ Day May
Kids Fitness Day May
Pizza Party Day
International Museum Day May
World Turtle Day

Celebrate the Centennial of New York State Parks


It is time for celebrations honoring New York’s outstanding parks system. This year is the 100th anniversary of the New York state park system, officially called the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation.

The system includes 180 parks and 35 historic sites. Surprisingly to many, the state’s two largest parks—Adirondack and Catskill Parks—are not part of the state park system but are instead under the direction of the Department of Environmental Conservation.

Long before the state department was created, New York State was a leader in preservation and nature protection. The first publicly owned historic site in the country, Washington’s Headquarters, opened in New York in 1850. Thirty-five years later Niagara Falls became the first state park in the United States.

The parks department cares for more than 335,000 acres of land, 2,000 miles of trails, 250 properties including parks, historic sites, campgrounds, golf courses, and beaches. There are 54 state parks with beaches, 26 nature centers in the parks, 28 golf courses including the famous Bethpage Black Course which is set to host the Ryder Cup in September 2025.

There is even an historic amusement park—Midway State Park in Bemus Point on Chautauqua Lake. It is one of the oldest continuously operating

amusement parks in the nation. Up in the Thousand Islands there are parks on islands accessible only by boat.

There are 8,555 campsites in the parks as well as 967 cabins and cottages, 18 yurts, three inns, and even one lighthouse.

New York’s state parks have been important backdrops in films beginning with the silent film era and the waterfalls in the parks around Ithaca. Of course, Niagara Falls has been the prime backdrop for at least eight movies and most recently Knox Farm was the setting for parts of the movie Cabrini

During the pandemic, attendance at state parks set new records and the record-breaking attendance numbers have continued. Last year, 84.4 million visitors came to the parks—a six percent increase over the previous year.

The Niagara Region boasts a wealth of parks including Artpark, dedicated to showcasing the performing and visual arts; Grand Island’s Beaver Island attracts with swimming and golf; Evangola, long popular for its fine sand beach and campsites; Old Fort Niagara with swimming, hiking, and boating.

Buffalo Harbor is one of the newest state parks and offers the special experience of kayaking amidst the towering grain mills. Knox Farm in East Aurora is a favorite of dog lovers with one of the largest dog parks anywhere, including a separate park for puppies and small dogs.

Here are some of my favorite state parks:

Niagara Falls State Park: Millions of visitors come from around the globe every year to gaze upon one of the world’s greatest natural wonders that spans two nations and the Niagara River. It drains the waters of four of five Great Lakes.

The Falls are right in our backyard and yet there are many Western New Yorkers who rarely, if ever, come to Niagara Falls. The Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Welcome Center finally opened late last year with new ticketing and information desks, plus interpretive museum space including immersive experiences and exhibitions on the history of the Falls. The project complemented the $150 million revitalization of the park landscape to better reflect noted park designer Frederick Law

12 WNY Family May 2024
Knox Farm Buffalo Harbor

Olmsted’s vision for the landscape.

The season is underway for the two electric Maid of the Mist boats that take passengers to the base of the falls on surely the world’s most exciting, totally accessible, and safe boat ride.

In 1901, Teddy Roosevelt, who was sworn in as President in Buffalo, took a ride proclaiming the experience “the only way fully to realize the grandeur of the great Falls of Niagara.”

It’s hard to believe that it wasn’t always thus, but in 1985 the world celebrated just a century of unrestricted viewing of Niagara Falls. Before 1885, the lands around the falls had become one of the most vulgar tourist traps anywhere, with visitors having to pay for the privilege of seeing the cataract. It was undoubtedly the peepholes that offended the most.

area around the falls to its natural state and to the people of the world.

The campaign resulted in the establishment, on July 15, 1885, of the nation’s first state park, embracing 435 acres of land along the American Falls. The Canadians followed with similar action around their portion of the cataract, and the falls’ protection was assured.

Letchworth State Park: This park is one of the crown jewels of the park system and has been voted the country’s best state park. The park is named after William Pryor Letchworth, a Buffalo industrialist and ardent conservationist who rescued and preserved the area.

An ingenious lobbying and public relations campaign was developed with one goal: Free Niagara. Spurred by this rallying cry, the Free Niagara Movement—a group of Americans including landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted—returned the

It is an easy drive from Buffalo and is a park that has it all including the first-of-its-kind Autism Nature Trail. It offers a nature experience for visitors on the autism spectrum, with a range of abilities and for people using wheelchairs, powerchairs, and strollers.

The trail is a one-mile looped main trail with eight stations at various intervals offering a different experience in-

cluding making music, enjoying a quiet swing, designing and making a teepee, and walking along a path of stones from the Genesee River.

Dubbed the “Grand Canyon of the East,” it is considered one of the most scenically magnificent areas in the East. It is here that the Genesee River runs fast and deep between towering rock walls, forming a 17-mile gorge with three major waterfalls. There are 66 miles of hiking trails throughout the more than 14,000-acre park.

Beyond hiking, swimming, and whitewater rafting there are hot air balloons that usually fly over the middle and upper falls early morning and early evening on windless days. Every Memorial Day weekend, Balloons Over Letchworth hosts the Red, White & Blue Festival that usually attracts about 20 hot air balloons. Beyond watching the balloons against the backdrop of the park’s scenic beauty, there are hot air balloon rides and tethered balloon experiences.

The Glen Iris Inn is open for meals and overnight stays. Dogs are allowed in the outdoor seating areas and there are plenty of rocking chairs on the porch for relaxing. There are also campgrounds, cabins, and cottages for rent.

Allegany State Park: This park is on the southern border of New York, west of Olean and east of Jamestown. It

continued on page 14

May 2024 WNY Family 13
Maid of the Mist Letchworth State Park

FAMILY TRAVEL continued...

is the largest of the state parks with 65,000 acres and two developed areas: Red House and Quaker.

The Quaker area is known for its two lakes and memorable camping experiences. It offers a sandy beach for swimming, two fishing piers and a canoeing or kayaking access point. There are miles of hiking trails, park programs offered at the amphitheater, horseshoe pits, baseball fields, basketball, volleyball, and tennis courts.

The park is home to natural rock formations known as Thunder Rocks, as well as three fire towers. The old Quaker store has been completely restored and now houses a park museum. Exhibits document the history of the park as “the Wilderness Playground of Western New York,” and orient visitors to the park’s unique features and attractions, both past and present.

The two campgrounds and 20 cabin trails in the area offer 189 campsites and 230 cabins, 30 of them winterized, and one group cabin. There are also vacation rental cottages with bathrooms, and are furnished and stocked with bedding, cooking utensils, dishes, as well as outside grill and picnic table.

Watkins Glen State Park: This award-winning Finger Lakes Park at the tip of Seneca Lake is the most famous park in the region. Within two miles, the glen’s stream descends 400 feet past 200-foot cliffs, generating 19 waterfalls along its course. The gorge path winds over and under waterfalls and through the spray of Cavern Cascade. Rim trails overlook the gorge.

Campers and day visitors can enjoy the Olympic-size pool, tours through the gorge, campsites, picnic facilities, and fishing in nearby Seneca Lake.

Taughannock Falls State Park: The namesake waterfall is one of the Northeast’s outstanding natural attractions and can be reached along an easy trail. The Falls plunges 215 feet past rocky cliffs that tower nearly 400 feet above the gorge. Gorge and rim trails offer spectacular views from above the falls and from below at the end of the gorge trail.

Campsites and cabins overlook Cayuga Lake with a marina, boat launch and beach.

Travel Tip of the Month: For information on New York parks and historic sites, visit Various centennial events will be held across the state. For the latest information, visit the parks website.

Park visitors are invited to join the Centennial Challenge and take part in some of the 100 challenge activities to get outdoors and discover the parks and historic sites. You can participate as an individual or a team. Why not create a family team? The goal is to complete 24 of the activities. You will earn a commemorative Centennial prize, as well as entry into a random drawing for one of 24 three-year Empire Passes and a Centennial swag bag.

Participants can either download an app or use paper and pencil to keep tract of activities. Find out the details at parks.

Park visitors have a century or more of memories from visits with family and friends. The parks office invites visitors to share their stories and photos with the Share Your Story project by email at; social media at #NYStateParksStory or online. The parks staff will collect the memories and share them on social media, email newsletter, on the parks blog and other avenues.

Deborah Williams lives in Holland, NY and is a veteran travel writer whose work has appeared in national and international publications. She is the recipient of the Society of American Travel Writers’ Lowell Thomas Gold Travel Writing Award.

14 WNY Family May 2024
Watkins Glen State Park

Center for Success

1: 6/26-6/28

2: 7/1-7/5

Week 3: 7/8-7/12

JUNE 26 th to SEPTEMBER 4 th

• Flexible

Week 4: 7/15-7/19

Week 5: 7/22-7/26

Week 6: 7/29-8/2

Have A Blast! Week 7: 8/5-8/9

8: 8/12-8/16

9: 8/19-8/23

10: 8/26-8/30

May 2024 WNY Family 15 CAMPsSummer Special Advertising Section Find the Right Camp for Your Child 1/2 Day Summer Literacy Camp & Individualized Literacy Tutoring 2 Summer Literacy Programs Offered! 716-645-2470 Children’s
Family Help Center 60 Dingens Street, Buffalo NY 14206 For more information, call 716-822-0919 *244
4:00 pm • Ages 5 – 10 Wrap around care provided at no extra cost!!
Weekly $285, Daily $57
am to
• Full & part-time
Easy Access
Drop Off
scheduling to fit your needs
covered by private pay or daycare subsidy
presenters! “Help Is Our Middle Name” Week
Team Building Games
Activities Week
Culinary Kids-
Eat Week
• Cool
Blooms- Let’s
Heat &
Camp Fun-I-Wanna!
Pirate week!
Squishy Squeezy Science Week
Kids ‘Act’ Like Kids! Theater Week! Week
Music Mash-Up…. Get Jiggy Wit’ It! Week
Finale Week- Too Much Talent Show! Sensational Weekly Themes: KIDS SUMME R C AMP Children are ‘WHAT WE DO’!!

CAMPs Summer

2024 SUMMER CAMP Sign Up Now for

3 Weekly Sessions

Ages 5-12

July 9th - 12th, July 16th - 19th, and July 23rd - 26th 8:30am - 12:00pm 5 and 6 Year Old INTRO DAY

Saturday July 27th from 1:00 - 3:00pm NEW SPECIAL

English riding lessons year-round in our indoor and outdoor facilities. Ages 5 and up.

16 WNY Family May 2024
Special Advertising Section Find the Right Camp for Your Child “Special things happen when children and horses are brought together” Call for more info: 716.877.9295 950 Amherst Street, Buffalo, NY 14216 Email: Buffalo Equestrian Center


Princess Camp

enchant her with: Dance, Theatre Games, Etiquette, Tea Parties, Crafts, Princess Costumes, A Life Sized Cinderella Carriage & A Visit From Prince Charming Every Friday!

The weeks of July 8th, July 15th, July 22nd

All Classes are Grouped by Ages 4-8


With attractions that cater to any level of adventurer, there’s something fun for everyone. Here your mini warriors can conquer obstacles, show gravity who’s boss, and have a blast seven days a week

May 2024 WNY Family 17 Every little
dreams of being a Princess. Make her dreams come true at the American Academy Princess
at Hopkins, Williamsville Call
for more details
The ultimate indoor adventure park!
Coming this JULY and AUGUST CENTER STAGE DANCE STUDIO SUMMER DANCE CAMP invites you to 4837 Union Road Cheektowaga (near Cleveland Drive) JULY 22, 23, 25, 26 AUGUST 12, 13, 15, 16 CERTIFIED MEMBER OF DANCE EDUCATORS OF AMERICA 716-634-3395 WWW.CSDS.DANCE Classes offered in Ages & Levels Offered ACRO CAMP JULY 10, 17, 24, 31 AUGUST 7, 14, 21 5:30 Beginners 6:30 Int./Advanced 7:30 Int./Advance TUMBLING 3-6 Tap/ Ballet Combo Tap Jazz Ballet Hip Hop 7-10 Beginner/Intermediate/Advanced 11 & Up Beginner/Intermediate/Advanced $12 PER CLASS CENTER STAGE DANCE STUDIO CENTERSTAGEBUFFALO
18 WNY Family May 2024 Re a d y, Set C A M P ! Still have openings in your summer programs? You have two more chances to boost your 2024 enrollment through WNY Family’s Learning Competitions Crafts For more information call 716-836-3486 Advertising Space Reservation Deadlines: June Friday, May 10 July Monday, June 10 70 Weiss Ave. • Orchard Park/West Seneca (Near Duff’s & Leisure Rinks) • 677-0338 Mini Camp - Ages 5-12 M/W 9:00 - 11:30am or Noon - 2:30pm; T/TH 12:30 - 3:00pm • Quality Gymnastics: Ages 1-18yrs ~ Weekly Themes • Trampoline & Tumbling Classes: 7-18yrs • Open Tumble/Cheer Class July/Aug. - Mon. 8:50-9:45pm • July/August Open Workouts - Wed. 7:15-9pm SUMMER 2024 Summer 8 WEEK PROGRAM Starts July 1st For Kids ages 4-12 Best Places To Work FinalistBuffalo Business First, 2023 Today’s families and staff choose Just for Kids! Before and After School Programs SUMMER CLUB LOCATIONS: Williamsville @ Maple East Elem. Cheektowaga @ Union East Elem. Sweet Home @ Willow Ridge Elem. Grand Island @ Kaegebein Elem. SUMMER DAY CAMPS Full and Half Day Rates Available Register Online: Williamsville @ Maple East Elem. Cheektowaga @ Union East Elem. Sweet Home @ Willow Ridge Elem. Grand Island @ Kaegebein Elem. 716-639-8500 Junior Sailing Camp We Teach Sailing! Enrollment is Open, Sign Up Now! 716-432-6589 Sail Buffalo Sailing School Sail Buffalo Weekly Sessions Ages: 7 - 18

CAMPs Summer

Children’s Dance Camps July 15-Aug 1st, Ages 3-12

Princess, Barbie, Mermaid Party, Swiftie, Tutu Cute 2's

Summer Classes & Workshops

July 8-Aug 1st Ages 6 &Up

Elevate Summer Intensive Aug. 12-16th

May 2024 WNY Family 19
Special Advertising Section Find the Right Camp for Your Child
Register Online @ Open To All!


Special Advertising Section

HORSE CAMP at Skibbereen Farm

June through August • 9am-1pm

• Learn basic riding skills

• Safety rules around horses

• Horse care • Saddlery

• Basic first aid

Cost: $425/Session

Registration Form Online

Find the Right Camp for Your Child

For more information, call (716) 608-1010 or visit:

Summer Intensive

July 15th, 16th & 17th Ages 1.5 - Adult are welcome!

Competition Team (New & Returning) MUST take all 3 days

Fall Open Houses:

August 25th from 1-4pm

August 28th from 5-8pm

Competition Team New & Returning Members

Audition Thursday, July 18th 4:00-8:30pm

See website for classes

MULTIPLE LOCATIONS! Summer, Fall, Winter & Spring

• Skill session followed by small sided game each week

• Experienced Coaches

• Boost self-confidence

• Build coordination & balance

• Play with your friends SoccerRoos Fun Educational Soccer

Ages 2.5 &

20 WNY Family May 2024
Road •
Skibbereen Farm 5142 Bussendorfer
Orchard Park, NY 14127
• 716-648-1908
Program for
A Time-Saving Tool for Busy Families MAY 2024 PULL-OUT & SAVE Get “up close and personal” with WNY businesses & organizations that cater to the needs of growing families! In Print and Online at

Clarence Chiropractic

Dr. David Lewis ~ Dr. Emily Patrick

Dr. John Rockas ~ Dr. Jessica Carrick

General Family Practice

Also specializing in:

• Webster Technique for Pregnancy

• Children

• Athletic Injuries

• Auto/Work Injuries

• Graston Technique

• Flexion/Distraction Technique

Call for an Appointment


Licensed Summer Camp Facility @ Nine Mile Island, Pendleton Water Activities ✹Hiking FieldTrips ✹ Arts & Crafts In-House Visitors & Much More!

ENROLLNOW! Call 716-568-1140

1 Orbit Drive • Amherst, NY



See Listing Under “Dance Instruction”.

Addiction Treatment & Mental Health Services:


1526 Walden Ave., Suite 400 Cheektowaga, NY 14225


Endeavor Health Services provides outpatient mental health and substance use treatment services.


55 Dodge Rd., Getzville, NY 14068


Horizon Health Services provides hope and healing for individuals and their families dealing with substance use and/or mental health disorders.



227 Thorn Ave., Orchard Park, NY 14127 716-539-5500

Helping families throughout WNY with mental health & addiction needs.



231 Aurora St., Lancaster, NY 14086


WNY’s Leading Breastfeeding & Maternity Boutique, breastpump sales and rentals. IBCLC owned/ operated.


1360 N. Forest Rd, Suite 111, Williamsville, NY 14221


New Boutique! Insurance covered items, breast pumps & supplies, lactation support, classes, mom & baby items, nursing bras & tanks.

The next Family Resource Guide will appear in our October 2024 issue.

Spezio’s Dance Dynamics

Spezio’s Dance Dynamics, Amherst’s premier dance training center, has been educating young artists from beginner to pre-professional since 1993, while enhancing each dancer’s creativity, physical fitness and passion for the art of dance.

Director and Owner Michelle Spezio holds extensive teaching background in all genres and aspects of training enhances opportunities for all students whether they intend to pursue a career in the

arts or are dancing for enjoyment. The professional staff of degreed teachers is dedicated to providing students a well-rounded dance education to all. SDD offers a professional studio with 4 class rooms, many amenities and versatile subjects of study as well as high level ballet training for dancers to discover their personal talents. “Dancer’s TurnOut Better,” that’s what we believe. Research shows that students who study dance are disciplined, goal oriented and self-motivated. Dancers are expressive in their communication of emotions, likely to excel, creative, imaginative and able to critically analyze and problem solve. Educating dancers to use these life skills in pursuing goals, overcoming obstacles and staying physically fit throughout their lives is our goal.

Dance Dynamics Students have won significant awards for proper training/choreography all through the USA. Dancers have attended many prestigious summer intensives and awarded scholarships. SDD is committed to helping every dancer experience the joy of dance! Spezio’s Dance Dynamics is a proud member of Dance Master’s of America, International Dance Entrepreneurs Association, NDEO, Award winning faculty and director, and has had the pleasure of training so many talented dancers. SDD dancers are going places!

22  Family Resource Guide  Family Resource Guide  Family Resource Guide  Family Resource Guide 
4440 Shimerville Rd., Clarence,
SPOTLIGHT ON Paid Advertisement
1639 N. French Road, Amherst, NY 716-688-9590
Instilling Passion & Building Character One Step At A Time!

Butcher Shop:


With 9 WNY Locations to Serve You 716-633-1390


WNY’s trusted source for the freshest products available. Knowledgeable service since 1930.







1639 North French Rd., Getzville, NY 14068 885 Sweet Home Rd., Amherst, NY 14226


Programs for infants, toddlers, 2 & 3 year olds, 4 year old Pre-K and Summer Camp.



4440 Shimerville Rd., Clarence, NY 14031 716-633-2036

General Family Practice. Also specializing in Pregnancy, Children, and Athletic Injuries.


6035 Main St., Williamsville, NY 14221 716-632-4476

Dedicated to you 7 days a week with Experience, Quality, and Compassion.

Consignment Shops & Sales: KID TO KID

1060 Niagara Falls Blvd., Tonawanda, NY 14150 • 716-831-8300

980 Union Rd., #42A, Southgate Plaza, West Seneca, NY 14224 • 716-675-0483 Best kids’ resale. Clothing, baby gear, shoes, toys, and furniture. Open 7 days.

The Summit Center

Offering Programs & Services for Children with Autism

staff have master’s degrees as well as advanced training in applied behavior analysis therapy.

Our programs and services include

• Autism Evaluations

• Early Autism Program

• Adult Programs

• Summit Academy

• Respite Programs

• Parent Training

• Behavioral Pediatrics Clinic educational, behavioral health, adult, and community programs and services to individuals with autism and other developmental challenges. We help children and adults achieve their greatest potential by incor porating evidence-based practices and carefully monitoring progress.

Summit has nearly 600 employees including special education teachers, behavior specialists, speech patholo gists, occupational and physical therapists, psychologists, and respite providers. Many of our faculty and

To find out how The Summit Center can support your child’s growth and development, please call us at 629-3400 or visit our website at

23  Family Resource Guide  Family Resource Guide  Family Resource Guide  Family Resource Guide 
ON Paid Advertisement
150 Stahl Road Getzville, NY
14068 716-629-3400


Health Services:


4800 N. French Rd.

East Amherst, NY 14051


E-mail: bchapman@

Healing from within. Adolescent therapy, anxiety/depression, addiction and family dynamics.

Dance Instruction:



491 W. Klein Rd., (Dash’s Plaza) Williamsville, NY 14221


Offering Ballet (6yrs.-adult), Fairytale Dance, Pre-Ballet (3, 4 & 5 yr. olds), Contemporary, Hip Hop, Tap, Acro & Lyrical.


Pull out and save this section for future reference. And, remember,you can also find it online at


4837 Union Rd. Cheektowaga, NY 14225


Encouragement and positive reinforcement through dance to reach one’s personal best.




10151 Main St., Clarence, NY 14031


Instilling a great love of dance, while inspiring self-confidence and discipline. Ages 2 & up.

Dentists (Pediatric):


425 Main St., West Seneca, NY 14224 716-674-5256

6590 E. Quaker St., Orchard Park, NY 14127 716-662-7651

Afraid of seeing the dentist? We can help! Call now for an appointment.



4017 Legion Dr., Hamburg, NY 14075


Pediatric Dentistry. Dental Care for Infants, Children, and Young Adults.

Educational Services:


150 Stahl Rd., Getzville, NY 14068

General Information: 716-629-3400


5360 Genesee St. Bowmansville, NY 14026


Where every dancer counts so that each dancer can reach their fullest potential.

Developmental evaluations, therapeutic and clinical services, family support services, behavioral health services, respite, & school programs for children and adults.


See Our Advertiser Spotlight.


730 Orchard Park Rd. West Seneca, NY 14224


Outstanding classes from Mommy & Me to Award-Winning Advanced Classes.



1639 N. French Rd., • Suite 300 Getzville, NY 14068


Offering quality classical dance instruction for all ages and levels since 1993. See Our Advertiser Spotlight.


Southgate Plaza - 954A Union Rd., Ste 3 West Seneca, NY 14224 716-608-1010

A unique performing arts center with every style of dancing, singing, acting and creating the arts with playwriting, choreography and directing. Ages 1 to adult.


Farms & Farm Markets:


3724 Quaker Rd., Gasport, NY 14067 716-772-2211

U-Pick Fruit; Farm Market; CSA; Pies, Ice Cream; Animals; Educational Tours; A 130-Year Family Tradition! Visit Vizcarra Vineyards & Becker Brewing Co.!


9270 Lapp Rd., Clarence Center, NY 14032 716-741-4239

U-Pick farm market and CSA. Produce, baked goods, animal barn and more.

24  Family Resource Guide  Family Resource Guide  Family Resource Guide  Family Resource Guide 
9270 LAPP ROAD • CLARENCE CENTER, NY 14032 PICK HERE. GROW HERE. HAVE FUN HERE. 716-741-4239 GREGSUPICK.COM Visit our farm market & bakery Bring a group or book a field trip! CSA SHARES AVAILABLE

Fencing Instruction:


485 Cayuga Rd., Cheektowaga, NY 14225


Learn to fence. Instruction in classical fencing. Kids, teens, adults. Equipment provided.



111 N. Maplemere Rd., Suite 120 Williamsville, NY 14221 716-836-4646

Open MRI, Low Dose CT, 3D Mammography, Bone Density, Nuclear Medicine, PET/CT, Ultrasound and Interventional Radiology.


5651 River Rd., Niagara Falls, ON L2E 7M7 905-356-8888

Discover the world’s largest indoor free-flying aviary… an adventure for all ages! Open all year.


2655 South Park Ave., Buffalo, NY 14218




3200 Elmwood Ave., Kenmore, NY 14217


Gymnastics instruction for girls and boys, 3 - 18 years.


75 Mid County Dr., Orchard Park, NY 14127



Gymnastics, Boys & Girls 12 months and up. Parent-Tot, Preschool Program, Tumbling, Birthday Parties, Field Trips, Playgroups.



70 Weiss Ave.

Orchard Park/West Seneca, NY 14224


Infant-18 yrs., Tramp/Tumble, Learning in Motion, Open Time. FIND US ON FACEBOOK


9630 Transit Road, Suite 100 East Amherst, NY 14051


4058 N. Buffalo Rd.

Orchard Park, NY 14127


1669 Hertel Ave., Buffalo, NY 14216


Children’s gym classes, camps, birthday parties, open play & more for ages 4 months - 9 years old!

See Our Advertiser Spotlight.


Locations in Buffalo, Niagara Falls, Cheektowaga, Lockport 716-986-9199

Family medicine, pediatrics, immunizations, well visits, developmental screenings, sports physicals, nutrition info.

Home Help Services:


788 Birchwood Dr., Lockport, NY 14094 716-439-8100

Email: In Home Help from the HEART.

Horseback Riding:


950 Amherst St., Buffalo, NY 14216 716-877-9295

Private and group lessons; ages 5 and up; year round; beginner to advanced.


1 Walden Galleria Dr., Buffalo, NY 14225


The ultimate indoor adventure park and a destination for family fun.




See Listing Under “Dance Instruction”.

Museums & Attractions:


701 Whirlpool St., Niagara Falls, NY 14301 716-285-3575

Visit WNY’s only aquarium. Sea lions, seals, penguins and more!


Pull out and save this section for future reference. And, remember, you can also find it online at

Connecting people and plants through beautiful gardens and extraordinary experiences.


617 Main St. Buffalo, NY, 14203 716-856-2717

CEPA is a contemporary photography and visual arts gallery and education center.


125 Jewett Parkway, Buffalo, NY 14214 716-856-3858

Engaging and fun family programs offered year round.

25  Family Resource Guide  Family Resource Guide  Family Resource Guide  Family Resource Guide 

Museums & Attractions



1410 Flint Hill Rd., Mumford, NY 14511


New York State’s Largest Living History Museum, encompassing a 19th century village, John L. Wehle Gallery, and Nature center.


180 Thompson St., North Tonawanda, NY 14120


Fun events and activities for all ages. Once Around Is Never Enough!


203 W. 2nd St., Jamestown, NY 14701


Fun and laughter for the entire family with a safe, immersive and interactive experience.

The next Family Resource Guide will appear in our October 2024 issue.

Thank You for Playing Local!

Since 2005, Rolly Pollies has been a locally owned and family operated business built specifically for WNY’s families. Rolly Pollies mission to “develop children physically, intellectually and socially in order to build the self-esteem and confidence needed for a healthy and successful life” drives Rolly Pollies to help families experience play with a purpose, and create meaningful memories to thousands of WNY families. With trampolines, foam pits, bouncehouses, and


PO Box 169, Youngstown, NY 14174


Your gateway to family adventure!

Living history programs every day, special events, re-enactments. FIND US ON FACEBOOK


Science and Mathematics Complex, Buffalo State University

Visit the planetarium for immersive astronomy programs and exciting laser music experiences!

Music Instruction:



Family music classes for young children and their parents or caregivers.

more, Rolly Pollies creates healthy habits that last a lifetime.

Gym Classes

Rolly Pollies’ unique motor-skill development curriculum allows children to learn through play. Class Schedules include evening, daytime and weekend classes. Families are encouraged to have fun together with equipment built for everyone! A full session of classes gives children the opportunity to develop gross motor skills, learn socialization skills, take directions from “Roll Models”, and see the same friends each week.

NEW Programs!

Rolly Pollies is growing again! Recently added programs are sure to delight families for years to come. Music, Montessori, and WNY’s only sensoryplay programs, “Messy Baby” and Mess Makers” have been created to further Rolly Pollies mission.

Party With Us!

Rolly Pollies offers WNYs best birthday parties, hosting only one party at a time: yours! Visit our website to find available dates and times.

Open Play

Check our website to register online for Open Play.

Use Your Health Insurance Wellness Cards

Raising heathly children is Rolly Pollies mission! Because of this, most health insurances will help pay for your Rolly Pollies classes and camps.

Three great locations:

9630 Transit Road

East Amherst, NY 14051 716-689-6151

4058 North Buffalo Road

Orchard Park, NY 14127 716-662-7424

1669 Hertel Ave. Buffalo, NY 14216 716-833-3318

26  Family Resource Guide  Family Resource Guide  Family Resource Guide  Family Resource Guide  • (716) 332-4170 We provide 1-On-1 Support and Education on Disabilities, Special Education and Services. All services are free of charge. “Supporting families and professionals to empower individuals with disabilities to reach their full potential” We Can Help! Do You Have Concerns About How Your Child is Developing and Learning? SPOTLIGHT ON Rolly Pollies WNY’s Largest Locally and Family Owned Children’s Gym!
Paid Advertisement

Paint Your Own Pottery:


10086 Main St., Clarence, NY 14031


Offering glass fusing and pottery. Birthdays, Scouts, mom’s groups, showers and team building.


138 Grey St., East Aurora, NY 14052


Where everyone is creative. Pottery, glass, pottery to go and much more!!



Parenting Resources:


1021 Broadway St., Buffalo, NY 14212


Supporting families of individuals with disabilities through educational resources, 1-on-1 support and events.

Party Resources:


5623 Transit Rd. East Amherst, NY 14051 716-725-3578

Bring Magic to Every Memory with our Character Entertainers!

Performing Arts: ZPAC PERFORMING


See Listing Under “Dance Instruction”



104 New Amsterdam Ave., Buffalo, NY 14216 • 716-877-5035

Independent school serving students 3 years old through eighth grade. Our dedicated teachers deliver a challenging, comprehensive academic program paired with citizenship, character, and creativity. Students are given the opportunity to learn and to lead in a child-centered environment, promoting small class sizes, individual attention, and a wide range of programming.

27  Family Resource Guide  Family Resource Guide  Family Resource Guide  Family Resource Guide 

Open for walk-ins 7 Days a week, Birthday Parties, and Ladies Nights.

138 Grey Street, East Aurora, NY 716-655-4456

Preschools/Montessori cont.: FOUNDATIONS

6445 West Quaker, Orchard Park, NY 14127


A private preschool offering an enhanced curriculum with progressive programs for 2-5 year olds.


See Listing Under “Gymnastics”


8970 Main St., Clarence, NY 14031 716-545-8048

An education that understands and nurtures your child’s natural curiosity for knowledge.

Cradle Beach

Primary Care:


Amherst: 850 Hopkins Road, Williamsville, NY 14221 716-688-9641

Buffalo (Conventus): 1001 Main St., 4th Floor, Buffalo, NY 14203 716-550-8361

Tonawanda: 2465 Sheridan Drive, Tonawanda, NY 14150


Accepting new patients at all locations!

See Our Advertiser Spotlight. Schools:


2303 Kenmore Ave., Buffalo, NY 14207 716-871-7400

Serving grades K-12, open to all residents, no entrance exams.


2 Lamarck Drive, Snyder, NY 14226 716-839-0473


Offering PreK3 - 8th grade. Small Classes & Strong Academics. FIND US ON FACEBOOK

A Magical Camp Experience for Children

Did you know Cradle Beach also welcomes children with no disabilities and across all income ranges?

Cradle Beach is a nurturing, transformative and fun experience in nature with a legacy of 135 years serving the Western New York community. We specialize in bringing together individuals with and without disabilities and/or with economic disadvantages. Our overnight summer camp provides children ages 8-17 opportunities to learn skills, build confidence and grow friendships in accessible facilities, while experiencing hope through magical moments.

Our summer camp is unique because of its inclusive programming

and our proximity to Lake Erie. Our 66 acre campus provides beach access with the most beautiful views of the sunset in all of Western New York! While at summer camp, children play and grow with peers of differing abilities and backgrounds. Campers have the opportunity to participate in sports sampling, arts and crafts, disc golf, swimming lessons (in our accessible pool) and so much more! Our inclusive overnight program provides opportunities for children and young adults to have meaningful connections with friends of all abilities.

We know there is growth and healing by being in nature. Our paved

trails, sandy beach, gardens, athletic fields, campfire ring, treehouse and more provide a safe and natural environment.

We offer eight, five-day, overnight sessions throughout the summer. Our campers are welcome to attend two non-consecutive sessions each summer. If you are interested in enrolling your child for camp, please visit www. or call us at (716) 549-6307 ext. 205.

8038 Old Lakeshore Road Angola, NY 14006 716-549-6307

28  Family Resource Guide  Family Resource Guide  Family Resource Guide  Family Resource Guide 
Pottery Painting and Glass Fusing Follow us on Facebook & Instagram SPOTLIGHT ON Paid Advertisement


104 New Amsterdam Ave., Buffalo, NY 14216 • 716-877-5035

Independent school serving students 3 years old through eighth grade.

Our dedicated teachers deliver a challenging, comprehensive academic program paired with citizenship, character, and creativity. Students are given the opportunity to learn and to lead in a child-centered environment, promoting small class sizes, individual attention, and a wide range of programming.


8550 Main St., Williamsville, NY 14221


Educating students age 3 through grade 8.


4414 S. Buffalo St., Orchard Park, NY 14127


Nativity: Focused on Educating the Whole Child to putting Faith in our Future.




250 St. Gregory Ct., Willliamsville, NY 14221



Pre-K 3 and 4, early kindergarten to grade 8.



5480 Main St., Williamsville, NY 14221


An education for the future, values for life. Pre-K 3 through 8th grade.





People Inc. operates 19 Senior Living affordable apartment complexes throughout Western New York.

UBMD Primary Care

When looking for a health care provider, there are many qualities to consider. At UBMD Primary Care, we work to ensure that your health care needs are met in all of the ways that matter to you most.

Comprehensive Care for All Ages. We’re with you through every life stage and milestone. Our practice cares for all ages – from newborns to seniors. Your entire household can be cared for by the same provider. We see patients for wellness, sick visits and physicals, but also for other concerns that may come up, such as behavioral health and addictions. Our providers are uniquely equipped to provide continuity of care for a wide range of health concerns, ensuring that your family’s needs are always met and tailored specifically to you.

Primary care providers for all ages doctors are also teaching the future generation of family medicine physicians and conducting research to find answers to today’s top medical concerns. This means that your physician is always up-todate on the latest medical innovations and advancements that may affect your wellness.

Patient-Centered Care. With us, you and your family come first. We are committed to a team approach centered around you, including coordinating with any other providers or specialists you may see. For new concerns requiring

specialist care that may come up, we have trusted partners in our UBMD Physicians’ Group of doctors. With over 550 physicians around Western New York, UBMD, together with your family doctor, can meet all of your health care needs.

Accessibility. With locations in Amherst, Buffalo and Tonawanda, we care for you where it best fits your life. We also offer same-day or next-day sick visits for existing patients when the unexpected comes up.

Quality Care. As faculty members at the University at Buffalo, our

Amherst: 716.688.9641

Buffalo: 716.550.8361

Tonawanda: 716.835.9800

29  Family Resource Guide  Family Resource Guide  Family Resource Guide  Family Resource Guide 
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 Parenting Resources  Parenting Resources  Parenting Resources 


n New York State Office of Children & Family Services prevention

State Hotline: 1-800-342-3720

Report abuse/neglect of children. If you believe a child is in immediate danger, call 911 or your local police department.

n New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence

New York State Domestic & Sexual Violence 24 hour Hotline: 1-800-942-6906

According to Safe Horizon, a New York victims’ services agency, 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence; more than 3 million children each year witness domestic violence at home; without help, girls who witness domestic violence are more vulnerable to abuse, and boys are more likely to become abusers of their partners and children as adults, continuing a cycle of violence seen in families all too often.

n Haven House Child & Family Services

24-Hour Hotline: 716-884-6000 (for HELP & Shelter)

For over 35 years, Haven House has been working to prevent domestic violence/intimate partner violence and promote peace in the home. Services are based on a continuum of care ranging from a fullyinclusive emergency shelter in a confidential location to long-term transitional housing. The continuum of care includes an extensive counseling and advocacy program for all individuals regardless of gender that includes many satellite locations throughout Erie County.

Who Should Call? Anyone involved in an intimate partner violence

or family violence situation, including: domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, those in same-sex relationships, those with disabilities, male survivors, senior citizens, and immigrant and refugee victims of domestic violence. Friends, family members, co-workers, neighbors, or professionals with questions about domestic violence operates safe and secure emergency housing in a confidential location for women and their children, single women, and transgendered individuals identifying as female. Shelter supportive services include: Safety Planning, Individual Counseling, Support groups (including Art Empowerment), Advocacy. Referrals can call the hotline for information.

Haven House housing assistance, Referrals to transitional housing, Food, Clothing, Crisis Intervention, and Children’s Programs.

n Family Justice Center of Erie County

716-558-SAFE (7233)

Offers free services for domestic violence victims and their children through an extensive collaboration with 13 partner agencies, all located at one secured, comfortable location, where victims can get all the services they need to safely escape abuse. Appointments are not necessary but are recommended. All services are available virtually by calling 716-558-7233.

Buffalo 438 Main St., Suite 201, Buffalo 716-558-7233

(Monday-Friday; 8:30am-4pm)

Orchard Park

4383 South Buffalo St., Orchard Park


(Wed. 8:30am-4pm)


330 North Forest Rd., Amherst 716-634-4309

(Thurs.; 8:30am-4pm)

Grand Island

1801 Grand Island Blvd. Suite 3

Grand Island


(Tues.; 8:30am-4pm)


n Adoption Star

131 John Muir Drive Amherst, NY 14228


Provides thorough and compassionate counseling to pregnant individuals, regardless of location, who are considering their options, including abortion, parenting, and adoption. Allows prospective adoptive parents and expectant parents to explore all the adoption options and to receive the appropriate information and education necessary to access those options. Provides counseling and support to birth parents and prospective adoptive parents.

n Adoption Program

Child & Family Services

330 Delaware Ave.

Buffalo, NY 14202 716-842-2750

Specializes in promoting permanency through adoption for children of all ages in the foster care system. Staff work with children freed for adoption as well as families interested in adopting children. Provides support, training, and case planning services for the child and adoptive family.

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n Center for Family Development 5820 Main St., Suite 406 Williamsville, NY 14221


Provides counseling for adoptive and foster families, adopted children, children in foster care (ages birth through adult), and adult adopters. Offers educational workshops for families and support groups; professional training and consultation; court ordered custody evaluations; pre-placement home studies and post-placement supervision. Offers WNY’s only Attachment and Bonding Center. Provides attachment therapy, evaluations, and treatment for children and adolescents using an evidencebased treatment approach.


n For a very comprehensive list of more than 100 after school care programs in Erie County visit and enter “after school” in the search box. Information on programs in Niagara and other counties is also available through this site. If you do not have access to the Internet, call 1-888-696-9211


There are a number of local “Baby Needs” programs that meet the emergency needs of infants and very young children by providing them with a supply of diapers, infant formula, baby food, and baby care products. Limited quantities available; supplies may differ at each location. Get in touch with Baby Needs programs at the following locations which serve specific zip codes:

n Buffalo River Food Pantry 62 Republic Street Buffalo, NY 14204


Mon-Thurs, 8am-11am. Serving zip code 14204.

n Every Bottom Covered Delavan Grider Community Ctr. 877 Delevan Ave. Buffalo, NY 14215


Provides up to 50 free diapers and/or 25 pull-ups for each child in eligible families. Diapers available for pickup on a monthly basis.

n The Genesis Center 2163 Seneca Street Buffalo, NY 14210 716-822-1901 Hours by appointment only. Call to schedule. Serving zip code 14210 for parents with an emergency need; no residency requirements for children’s clothing.

n Kenmore Alliance Church

175 Bonnet Ave Tonawanda, NY 14150 ministries/kac-serves 716-876-5570

Many types of services are offered including emergency essentials for babies.

n Harvest House Baby & Children’s Ministry

175 Jefferson Avenue Buffalo, NY 14210 716-824-7818 ext. 214

Serving Erie County; by appointment only.


n La Leche League International

The local La Leche group - La Leche League of Western New York - can be found on Facebook. Leaders are available to answer your questions about breastfeeding. If you are unable to find a leader in your area, call 1-877-4-LALECHE (1-877-452-5324).

Western New York La Leche Leaders:

Kimberly, 716-997-4662

Jenny - 716-512-5000


n Child Support Enforcement (CSE)

Erie Co. Dept. of Social Services 95 Franklin St., Room 230 Buffalo, NY 14202

Helpline: 888-208-4485

Email: cseweberie@dfa.state.

CSE can help locate the noncustodial parent, help parents establish paternity if either has any doubt about the identity of a child’s biological father, help the custodial parent file a petition in Family Court for an order of support, and enforces a child support order when the noncustodial parent does not pay. The child support enforcement program has legislative authority to collect overdue child support (arrears) and to obtain medical coverage through a variety of administrative procedures. Some administrative procedures can be put into action without going to court.

Noncustodial parents who fail to pay child support can be subject to having the funds automatically deducted from their wages; unemployment payments, federal and/or state tax refunds, and lottery winnings can be intercepted; financial assets, including bank accounts, can be seized. Delinquent noncustodial parents can also have their NY State drivers license suspended and can be prevented from obtaining or renewing their passports.

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For further information about Child Support Services in New York State visit


n NY State Parent Education & Awareness Program

Launched in 2005, and offered under the auspices of Catholic Charities of Buffalo here in WNY, this program is designed to educate divorcing or separating parents about the impact of their breakup on their children. The primary goal is to teach parents ways they can reduce the stress of family changes and protect their children from the negative effects of ongoing parental conflict in order to foster and promote their children’s healthy adjustment and development. Four topics are addressed in the Parenting & Child Well-Being portion of the curriculum:

1) Creating and Maintaining Supportive Parent-Child Relationships

2) Providing a Stable, Supportive Home Environment

3) Maintaining Healthy Parental Functioning & Psychological Well-Being

4) Protecting Children from Ongoing Conflict Between Parents.

An overview of the Legal Process is also included.

In Erie County, there are “Our Kids: A Parent Education & Awareness Program” class locations in Amherst, Buffalo, and Hamburg; contact Michele Wittman, 716-896-6390 or email michele.

In Niagara County, there are class locations in Niagara Falls and Lockport; contact Michele Wittman, 716-896-6390 or email

At the present time, online courses are also being held. If you live in any other county, visit the

website for a list of providers.

n New York State Council on Divorce Mediation Divorce mediation is a voluntary, cooperative settlement process in which a neutral professional helps you make practical, informed decisions to resolve your differences. It is used frequently and successfully by separating and divorcing couples who want to plan their futures rationally, in an atmosphere of cooperation and mutual respect. With the guidance of a trained mediator, you work together through a series of orderly steps to create a fair and reasonable agreement. Visit their web site to find accredited mediators in your area, or call 516-227-2595.


n Partnership for Drug-Free Kids

Get Help via text, email or by scheduling a call with their trained specialists by visiting

Drug use remains a significant problem in the United States, however adolescent drug use is particularly damaging as such use can affect the physical and mental development of younger people and can impact their opportunities later in life. In 2020, 7.58% of 12- to 17-year olds reported using drugs in the last month. 91,799 people died from drug overdoses in 2020, 21,000 more than the previous year, making it a leading cause of injury-related death in the United States. A person is more likely to die from an accidental opioid overdose than from a motor vehicle crash.

This national organization helps parents take effective action before their child’s drug use or drinking reaches a point where treatment is required. Research

has shown that substance abuse problems can be reduced by intervening early. Encouraging parents to take immediate action is therefore a main goal of the helpline’s team of parent support specialists who offer expert advice to help parents plan a course of action and can supply a list of local resources or treatment facilities. Their website is an excellent one-stop resource where you can educate yourself about specific drugs, teen behavior, and ways to talk to your kids to prevent abuse from ever happening in the first place.



Erie County Sheriff’s Office anonymous, confidential, and

free hotline. Concerned adults, teachers, students and friends now have a number to call 24 hours a day, to report planned underage drinking parties; underage drinking parties taking place or other activities that may be harmful to the health, safety and welfare of young people.


n Greater Buffalo

Food Allergy Alliance

The mission of this local support group is to share information, tips, and experiences to ease the challenges of living with food allergies, as well as raise the awareness in the community; meets at the Orchard Park Library, 4570 South Buffalo St., Orchard Park. You can find meeting details and locations on the organization’s Facebook page.


n Erie County Department of Health LEADSAFE Erie County

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 503 Kensington Avenue Buffalo, NY 14124


Families with young children who want information about lead poisoning prevention can request an assessment of their pre-1978 home. A visual exterior and interior inspection by staff will identify any potential lead hazards and a lead education visit with the family will provide cleaning supplies and strategies for avoiding lead hazards.

“Communities of Concern” have been designated in zip codes 14201, 14207, 14208, 14209, 14210, 14211, 14212, 14213, and 14215.


n New York State Division of Criminal Justice Missing Persons Clearinghouse


Call local law enforcement first to report a missing child or adult. Call the hotline for case intake or to provide lead information. Electronically distributes missing child or missing college student alerts statewide and assists in investigation.


n WIC - Women, Infants & Children

Women, Infants & Children (WIC) is a federal nutrition program that supports pregnant, postpartum, and breastfeeding women, infants and children up to the age of five to live a healthier life. WIC provides nutrition education and counseling, breastfeeding support, prenatal and postpartum support, referrals and supplemental food vouchers. All of our services are free of charge.

WIC is for all kinds of familiesmarried or single parents, working or not working. Fathers, mothers, grandparents, foster parents or other legal guardians of a child under five can apply for the child to receive WIC. WIC does not require US citizenship, social

security number, green card or legal residency to receive benefits.

Catholic Charities operates the program locally through a variety of locations. To reach any of the sites serving Chautauqua, Erie and Niagara counties, call (716) 2181484.

Not all of their locations are open every day, please call for site schedules.

You may be eligible for WIC if you:

• Are pregnant, breastfeeding or post-partum, OR

• Have an infant or child under 5 years old, AND

• Receive SNAP (Food Stamps), Temporary Assistance (TANF) or Medicaid or meet the income guidelines below, AND

• Live in New York State

You can also call NY State’s Growing Up Healthy Hotline toll-free at 1-800-522-5006

for further information about eligibility, etc.


Moms, we know how it is. We manage the house, the schedules, the lunch packing and dinner making. We’re there for homework, the big game, the school play, and we make it happen with a smile. Where’s that little dose of “me” time? Thankfully, there are some helpful organizations in our community just for moms. Whether you’re a new mom or a veteran mom, there’s a special place for you to connect, refresh and relax.

n MOMS Club

The MOMS Club is an international non-profit organization, started by a California mom. Several local chapters have formed which offer monthly meetings with speakers and discussions, park play dates, holiday family parties, outings for mothers and their children, and activity groups like playgroups, arts ‘n crafts, and a monthly MOMS Night Out. They also do


community service projects. Find a local chapter through their web site.

n WNY Mothers Of Multiples formerly Mothers of Twins Club of Buffalo

This support group for expectant and current mothers of twins (and more!) meets on the 2nd Wednesday of most months at 7pm at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, 2669 Sheridan Drive, Tonawanda. In addition to their meetings which feature “meet and mingle” sessions, they organize activities such as moms’ nights out, toy/clothing sales, and a great vareity of other mom-oriented and family events. Download membership forms on their website.


n Upstate New York Poison Center

24 Hours A Day, 365 Days A Year 1-800-222-1222 poison/

Calls are answered by Specialists in Poison Information (SPIs), registered nurses, and pharmacists trained in toxicology. Specialists provide the most efficient and up-to-date poison information available. Physicians and toxicologists are on-call 24 hours a day for consultation purposes.

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For a complete listing of special needs organizations, visit the DD Info Link at https://www.211wny. org/search/ddinfolink/ which provides a multitude of resources related to developmental disabilities. The resources can be broken down by age group, and then by service types, such as daily living, education, in-home services, recreation, respite and more. If you do not have access to the Internet, call 1-888-696-9211 .

n Parent Network of WNY

1021 Broadway Buffalo, New York 14212

Information & Referral: 716-332-4170

This community resource provides all the tools necessary for parents and professionals to take an active role in the education of children and young adults with special needs. They offer a wealth of seminars, workshops, information and referral services, a newsletter, family training services, all FREE of charge. If you’ve struggled to find the right services for your child, or are lost in the maze of rules and regulations in the Special Education System, these are the folks who can help.

n Down Syndrome Parents Group of Western New York


Provides support to persons with Down Syndrome and their families through information on educational programs and community services. A Parent Support Program connects new parents with volunteers who can share their experiences and provide support. A phone call, hospital or home visit is available upon request by calling Barbara at 716-983-2140. They host activities throughout the year.

n Autism Society of Western New York 716-633-2275 living-with-autism/ Visit this website for a detailed list

of area support groups in addition to the ones listed below.

n Grand Island Autism Support Group Meets at Realty USA 2139 Grand Island Blvd., Grand Island, NY 14072

Contact: Vienna, 716-430-5118

Email: GrandIslandNYAutismGroup

1973, the Family Help Center has been providing services to families raising children and gives the support you can’t always get from family, neighbors, or even parents. They operate the only 24-hour, 365 day a year family crisis intervention and support service in Erie County, and offer immediate assistance with no application procedures, no eligibility requirements, and no waiting period. They provide in-home support services to all of Erie County, as well as a NY State licensed daycare facility. Their Family Help Center Daycare, at 60 Dingens St., Buffalo, offers full day, before, and after school care, and school-age summer programs.

n Crisis Services

n Group for Parents of Children with ASD Meets monthly, 6:30pm-8:30pm Aspire Building, 7 Community Drive Cheektowaga, NY 14225

Contact: Jana Mertz, 716-323-6435


Ask about their groups for parents of teenagers with ASD or Aspergers.

n Niagara County Group for Parents of Children with ASD Meets monthly, 6:30pm-8:30pm Empower Children’s Academy 9812 Lockport Rd., Niagara Falls, NY 14304

Contact: Parent Network of WNY, 716-332-4170


n Family Help Center

(formerly Joan A. Male Family Support Center)

24-Hour Parent Help Line 716-892-2172

Did you ever get the feeling that being a parent is a bigger job than you expected? The stress continues every day! Raising a family is a big job and sometimes it’s an overwhelming one! Since

Serving Buffalo & Erie County

24-Hour Crisis Hotline: 716-834-3131

24-hour Addiction Hotline: 716-831-7007

24-Hour Erie County Domestic Violence Hotline:


For Shelter:


Provides crisis intervention and supportive counseling to all callers in Erie County. Provides immediate assistance for people who are in acute emotional distress; who are or perceive themselves to be in life-threatening situations; who are a danger to themselves or to others; or who are hysterical, frightened or otherwise unable to cope with a problem that requires immediate attention.

n Crisis Services

Kids Helpline: 716-834-1144

The Kids helpline is a part of the Crisis Services Counseling Program and is dedicated to serving school aged children, adolescents and parents by providing immediate and confidential support 24 hours a day, on a variety of issues related to youth and their families.

35  Family Resource Guide  Family Resource Guide  Family Resource Guide  Family Resource Guide 

Distracted Parenting:

Addressing Smartphone Use in Modern Families


Smartphones have become integral to our daily lives, offering countless conveniences and connecting us in unprecedented ways. However, our attachment to these devices comes with a significant tradeoff. Recent statistics show that the dynamics of smartphone usage, particularly among families, have evolved, yet concerns about “distracted parenting” remain pertinent.

While the exact average daily screen time for adults in 2024 isn’t specified, it’s clear that the digital interaction landscape is nuanced. Teens, especially, report a complex relationship with their smartphones. A Pew Research Center study from March 2024 indicated a majority of teen girls, more than boys, express concerns about excessive smartphone use, indicating a heightened selfawareness regarding digital habits.

by teens, nearly half of whom notice their parents’ divided attention. This fact did not surprise me as much as it probably should have. It’s probably safe to say we are all guilty of this at some level. As a coach, I cannot count the number of times I’ve witnessed a parent miss a great play/shot/block from their son or

havior for a while and then reacted with a scolding tone of voice, gave repeated instructions in a somewhat robotic manner (e.g., without looking at the child or relevant to child behavior), seemed insensitive to the child’s expressed needs, or used physical responses.” I think we can all relate to this as well. No one is perfect. You pull out your phone to check something and get engrossed in what you’re doing. It can be frustrating when you get interrupted, and that frustration can manifest itself in a variety of ways.

Interestingly, the digital dilemma extends to family interactions. Around 40% of families engage in repeated arguments over smartphone use, highlighting ongoing tensions around digital consumption. Parents, too, acknowledge their struggles with screen time, with a significant number admitting to being distracted during interactions with their children. This revelation is corroborated

daughter because they were looking at their phone during a game. Even smaller moments at home may go unnoticed due to a distracting text, disruptive chirp, or some other interrupting notification. We often talk about technology addiction in children but, as adults, what message are we sending our kids when we are always pulling out our phones?

Aside from missing moments in our kid’s lives, another study looked at the interaction between caregivers and children during mealtime as it related to technology usage. A direct quote from the findings: “Caregivers absorbed in devices frequently ignored the child’s be-

I am not suggesting that everyone is addicted to their smartphone or that we should all go back to the rotary phones of the 80s. After reading quite a few articles during my research for this column, I do believe that “distracted parenting” or “continuous partial attention” is harming our kids.

Reimagining Parent-Child Engagement in the Digital Age

In light of these insights, it’s crucial for parents to foster an environment where digital devices enhance rather than detract from family connections.

continued on page 43

May 2024 WNY Family 37
Focus on fun activities: Get active together!

Family Movie Options: In Theaters and Streaming Online

The Beautiful Game Netflix Rating Overall Violence Sex Profanity Alcohol/Drugs

PG-13 A- A- B+ C+ B

Mal is manager of England’s homeless soccer team, where he oversees the training of a recovering heroin addict, a Syrian refugee, an exuberant thief, and an intense striker. When he stumbles across Vinny, a man with undeniable talent on the pitch, Mal knows that this player has what it takes for England to win at the World Cup. But Vinny also has plenty of baggage…This underdog sports film hits all the right beats and is both inspiring and entertaining. It ’s a tale of compassion, courage, and simple goodness. Photo ©Netflix

The Long Game Theaters Rating Overall

PG B B A- C+

It’s 1955 and Texas golf clubs won’t allow Mexican-Americans on their fairways – unless they are caddies. But five of the Del Rio club’s caddies built their own course and developed impressive skills. When J.B. Pena, the new high school superintendent, forms a golf team, the boys just might have what it takes to beat the entire state. This story of sports and human equality is an uplifting film with themes of dignity, self-respect, courage, persistence, and hard work. It’s well suited for families with teens. Photo ©Bonniedale

Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire Theaters


Godzilla is roaming the earth, hunting and destroying other Titans. Kong has gone into the Hollow Earth, looking for more creatures like him. He hasn’t found anyone, but something is transmitting new signals that are prompting Godzilla to absorb more radiation. Creature features should be action-packed and exciting but this flick is neither. Most of the runtime is devoted to four tedious human characters and even the destructive scenes of monster mayhem feel boring. Hard to believe, but even Godzilla can be dull Photo ©Warner Bros

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire Theaters Rating


The Spengler clan has relocated to New York, restoring Ghostbuster services to the city. Much to their dismay, they find themselves battling City Hall and a malevolent ancient deity with the power to plunge the city into a new Ice Age. Stiff, overly expository, and containing too many flat jokes, this sequel is less entertaining than its predecessor. It has a significant amount of supernatural violence, but that won’t deter dedicated fans

Madu Disney+


Anthoy Madu went viral on Instagram for dancing barefoot on the streets of Lagos. Soon after, he received an invitation to study ballet in England. This documentary follows Anthony’s journey as he adapts to a new country, is diagnosed with a disability, and devotes himself to the rigorous field of ballet. Anthony’s hard work and dedication are inspiring, and this is a family-friendly choice for anyone interested in the arts. Photo ©Disney+

May 2024 WNY Family 39
Profanity Alcohol/Drugs
Rating Overall Violence Sex Profanity Alcohol/Drugs
C C A C+ A
Overall Violence Sex Profanity Alcohol/Drugs
C C+ A- C+ B-
Rating Overall Violence Sex Profanity
available at
Detailed reviews


May is Mental Health Awareness month. It is time to get out of your head and out of the house! It is time to get into your body and back out into nature! We have all been under so much pressure and stress…and cold weather and staying indoors hasn’t helped. From our lived experiences in our workplaces, to the schools our children attend, and from television to social media, we are constantly bombarded with stressful news and anxiety ridden messages. This stress is impacting our individual and collective mental health. It is time that we intervened for ourselves, our children, our society, and our sanity. How can we do this? One person at a time and one book at a time is one approach. There are many wonderful books to help our children begin to cope and, in the process, give us tools to help them and ourselves. Here are some of the latest.

The Drama Llama (Sourcebooks, Naperville, 2024, $18.99) written by Rachel Morrisroe and delightfully illustrated by Ella Okstad is perfect for children who are starting to feel their anxiety ramping up and in need of some relief. The clever and engaging rhyme of this book makes the subject light, relatable, and meaningful and lets the reader know that

they are not alone. It seems everyone has an imagined “Drama Llama” in their life once in a while and the longer you let it stay the bigger it gets. But how do you deal with this annoying character showing up at the most inconvenient times? All it might take is to talk to someone about it. In this story, it was Alex Allen’s teacher who stepped in to let him know that he was not alone. She told him:

See, everyone feels worried—it’s OK to feel upset.

And caring for your feelings can be easy to forget.

When fear or worry starts to leave you feeling stressed, find someone to talk to because talking is best.

Soon this Drama Llama began to shrink and before long it was not only manageable, but became a friend to help him through difficult times. As therapists know, one of the best ways to process trauma and stress is through talk therapy and this book lets children and adults know that it is ok to ask for and express these concerns. A stuffed toy llama might also help for an extra special cuddle.

If you have a child that is in or has been recommended to therapy, there is the book Welcome

to Therapy: A Mindful Introduction to Counseling for Kids (PESI Publishing, Eau Claire, 2024, $19.99) by Andrea Dorn. As a licensed clinical social worker and a psychotherapist, she has worked closely with children and parents to help them understand and embrace the support that therapy can offer. This light conversation style presentation is written from the perspective of a child who is in therapy to help them get through the “sometimes tricky things that happen”. The book contains conversation starter recommendations at the bottom of each page, plus activities. There is also some helpful advice at the end of the book for parents and teachers. This book is a must for the classroom and helpful for the home. Welcome to Therapy is just one of a series of books by Dorn that you might find helpful. Here are some of her other titles: The Mindful Steps; When Someone Dies; Calm and Peaceful Mindful Me; Potty; Big Brother; Big Sister.

Andie Powers, the author of I Am Bold (Gibbs Smith, Layton, 2024, $18.99) illustrated by Besty Petersen,

40 WNY Family May 2024

shares the story of a child who is often told she is loud. But she says she is just Bold! Bea has things to say and things to do! She needs to express herself in words and actions. Even when she is quiet, she is bold in her mind, in her thoughts, and in her dreams. She sees bold all around her in nature, in the city, in her friends, and in her family and she embraces this in her actions. While she might need to learn to monitor herself, she can still be bold inside. This book encourages children to stay true to themselves while trying to navigate the world around them.

If you have older children who are exploring or entering into therapy, Where to Start: A Survival Guide to Anxiety, Depression, and Other Mental Health Challenges (Rocky Pond Books/ Penguin Random House, New York, 2023, $19.99), by Mental Health America and illustrated by Gemma Correll, is written in a way that is easily understood and respectful to the reader. Part One: Am I Okay? addresses different kinds of mental health disorders. Part Two: Talking About Mental Health has excellent advice and worksheets that are helpful when beginning these conversations. Part Three: Getting Professional Help discusses different kinds of therapies and formats, medications, and hospitalization. Part Four: DIY Mental Health reviews the ways different kinds of mindfulness can help support the journey to mental wellness. One leaves this book with a new understanding and respect for counseling and that there is no longer a stigma attached to it, but respect and compassion for those who seek it.

Research continues to support the benefits of getting out into nature to get us out of our overthinking mind and into our body. By immersing ourselves in the sensory experience, it can lower blood pressure and cortisol levels and can move us from the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) into our para sympathetic nervous system (rest and relax). These books can give us the support and personal permission that we need to be happy and healthy. Taking this mindset out into nature will certainly celebrate our personal growth and connect us to the growth we see all around us in the season of spring.

Dr. Donna Phillips is an associate professor in the College of Education at Niagara University where her specialty is literacy and children’s literature. She lives on Grand Island, NY and is the mother of two adult children and the grandmother of one.

May 2024 WNY Family 41

Helping all parents make their children’s educational experience as successful as possible

How to Plan a Summer with Lots of Learning in It

Parents: It is widely agreed that Covid has recently played a big role in your children’s education. All the standardized tests are showing that a lag in their learning has occurred. Most children have not learned all they should have, especially in reading and math; however, none of the other subjects have really escaped this lag either. While teachers have been busy this past year trying to fill these learning gaps, some still exist. Although this coming summer should be a fun time, it can also be a learning time. By this, we do not mean formal book learning for most children. Instead, we suggest imaginative activities that expand their horizons, increase their desire to learn more about a wide variety of subjects, and teach them new skills.

Some Children Need Formal Instruction in Reading

Sadly, some children have simply not gotten fully on grade level in a variety of subjects this past year even though they may have had some help to have them do this. The most important subject of all is obviously reading. All the experts agree that children need to be good readers by the end of third grade because content area subjects which require reading skills begin to be stressed in fourth grade. There are also the children who are struggling in elementary, middle, and high school with school subjects simply

because they do not have good reading skills.

If you suspect that poor reading skills are holding your children back from academic success, begin by checking if they are reading on grade level. Online, you will be able to find many tests that assess reading grade level. We suggest using the reliable San Diego Assessment Test which is on our website. If your children are significantly below their grade level, some formal instruction would be very beneficial this summer. This help can come from a summer program at your children’s school, a tutor, a learning center, or from a college that has a reading clinic (usually free).

Reading Skill Helpers Parents Can Use

If your children’s reading skills are not quite up to grade level or you would like them to become stronger readers, there are many programs online that will help them upgrade their skills. On our website under Skill Builders, look at “Improving Children’s Skills with Techniques that Work at Home.”

Creating a Love of Reading

So much of what older children are reading today is just on social media. While it is good that they are at least

reading for quite some time each day, it probably isn’t engendering a love of reading, greatly expanding their vocabularies, or even helping them learn more about literature. Here’s where you as parents come in. Read to your children, even middle schoolers, every day. Fifteen minutes will do. But don’t just read to them — discuss what you have read with them. With younger children, it could be: Tell me what the main character in the story is like. For older children, it could be: Do you agree or disagree with the author’s view on some subject and why. And if your children show an interest, have them participate in library reading programs.

Solidifying Math Skills

Nothing keeps math skills current or builds upon them like using them frequently during the summer. Games can keep math in the forefront for children. There are solitary games like Solitaire and Sudoku, and games families can play like Yahtzee. Then there are all the math puzzles and games online which your children are likely to try, especially if you play them together.

Expanding Social Studies Knowledge

We must admit that not all children are big aficionados of social studies. You may be able to increase their interest in this subject by visiting historic sites that they may be studying about in the future and taking informational tours:

• City Hall and the State Capitol

• The homes of Presidents and historical figures and mansions of the past hundred years

• National and State parks

• Prominent Monuments

You may also increase their knowledge of times past through riding steam engines and visiting museums like those of automobiles, trains, racecars, toys,

42 WNY Family May 2024

and film. Another way for children to become fascinated by history is to introduce them to genealogy. Have them research their ancestors. They may discover some were soldiers, inventors, or politicians. Once they have the name of a relative, they can google that name and find out a lot more about this person’s life.

Building Children’s Interest in Science

An interest in astronomy could evolve from a visit to a planetarium. Besides a look at what’s in outer space, they may have the chance to look through a telescope. Then there are museums like natural history ones where they can see plants and animals past and present and dioramas of how early people lived. And just think what a visit to a place like La Brea Tar Pits would let them find out about animals that once roamed the Earth.

Here’s to a Wonderful and Educational Summer

If you take a day each week or just one weekend day a month to have an educational adventure, it can pay educational dividends for your children, as well as be a fun time for everyone in the family.

Parents should send questions and comments to dearteacher@dearteacher. com, and visit the website to learn more about helping their children succeed in school.



Here are some recommendations to create a more tech-friendly home environment that fosters strong family connections:

Making Memories Together:

• Plan tech-free times: Set aside specific moments each day or week where everyone puts away their devices. This could be a family dinner, a board game night, or even just an evening walk.

• Focus on fun activities: Get active together! Play a game, go for a bike ride, or explore a new park. Shared experiences create lasting memories.

Open Communication is Key:

• Talk about tech habits: Have open conversations with your kids about your phone use and theirs. Discuss challenges and set some ground rules together.

• Encourage self-awareness: Help your kids understand how their screen time might be affecting them. Maybe they miss out on conversations or feel restless after being on their phones for too long.

Building Trust and Respect:

• Be a role model: We all know it’s tempting to check our phones constantly. But try to be mindful of your own usage, especially when you’re with your kids. Put your phone away during meals and conversations.

• Supervision with a side of trust: For younger kids, some supervision of their online activity is important. As they get older, gradually give them more freedom to manage their own time. This shows you trust them to be responsible.

Tech Tools Can Help Too!

There are apps designed to help families manage screen time. Some popular options include Moment and Space. These apps offer features like usage tracking, goal setting, and even coaching programs to help you develop healthier digital habits.

Remember, you’re not alone!

Everyone struggles with screen time sometimes. The important thing is to be aware and make an effort to create a more balanced digital life for yourself and your family. By working together,

you can ensure technology strengthens your connections, not weakens them. Finding a balance with technology can also be easier when you have a support network. Talk to other parents about their struggles and successes. Consider working with your children’s teachers or pediatricians for additional guidance. Remember, creating a healthy digital environment for your family is a journey, not a destination. There will be bumps along the road, but by being open, supportive, and working together, you can navigate the digital age and build strong, connected relationships with your loved ones.

Here are some additional tips:

• Start small: Don’t try to change everything overnight. Pick one or two things to focus on at first.

• Be patient: Changing habits takes time. Celebrate your successes along the way, and don’t get discouraged by setbacks.

• Make it fun! Finding a balance with technology shouldn’t feel like a punishment. Focus on the positive outcomes, like stronger family bonds and more quality time together.


By integrating these strategies, families can navigate the complexities of the digital age more effectively, ensuring that technology serves to enhance rather than hinder their connections and overall well-being.

Mike Daugherty is a husband, father of three young children, author, speaker, Google Innovator, and possible Starbucks addict. He is a certified educational technology leader who has served in a variety of roles through his twenty-year career in public education. Currently, Mike is the Director of Technology for the Chagrin Falls Exempted Village School district in Northeast Ohio. As an IT director he has developed creative, well thought out solutions that positively impact teaching and learning.

May 2024 WNY Family 43


All My Single Moms

My first Mother’s Day as a single mom was hard. I was grieving the end of my 20-year relationship with my husband and having to let go of the future I had envisioned for our family. It felt like too much grief all at one time. I didn’t want Mother’s Day to come, or any other holiday for that matter. I wanted to crawl under the covers of my bed, hold my three children, and just hide. Getting divorced is the hardest thing I have ever had to do and, I imagine, if you’re reading this article, you may be in a similar situation.

It’s been five years since that first holiday and I made it through to the other side. I did it with the help of many friends, family, and a whole lot of love. I have a few tips that helped me get through those ‘firsts’ as we call them, and I would love to share them with you.

1. Make plans on Mother’s Day. If it’s just you and your kids, call ahead and make reservations somewhere. This will give you something to look forward to and will take the guesswork out of whether or not anyone will do something special for you. Include your kids in the decision of where to eat. It’s important that you start to create new traditions and new memories with your kids.

2. Treat yourself to something nice. Finances can be tight as a single

parent, but that doesn’t mean you can’t buy yourself something special for the occasion. On my first Mother’s Day post-divorce, I bought myself a necklace that was titled ‘Beautifully Broken’. I wore that necklace until it turned green (it was fake) but it reminded me that even though I felt less-than and unworthy, I was still someone beautiful. Find your ‘something’ that speaks to you during hard times and make it part of your story.

3. Let your friends pamper you. I was fortunate enough to have friends who wanted to make me feel special on Mother’s Day (and who still do). I know it can feel embarrassing to be vulnerable but allow yourself that space for others to come in and love on you. It’s good for you and your healing and it’s good for your kids to see their mom being doted on by people who care about her. Maybe someday you can pay it forward and do it for another single mom.

4. Take your friends up on their offers to take your kids shopping for you for Mother’s Day. I had a friend ask if she could take my kids out for a few hours so they would still be able to buy me things for the holiday. When Mother’s Day came around, my kids had each picked out something special for me and my friend had printed the pictures from her day out with my kids and framed them for me. I still have those photos in my living room. It’s a daily reminder to me that I am never alone and there are so many people who love me.

5. Be in the moment on that day as much as possible. I know it’s easy to fall into the pit of wishing you were still a ‘complete’ family, but the truth is, you are still a complete family. Do things to help you stay present with your kids by leaving your phone in your purse, asking your kids what their highs and lows were for the day, and playing TicTac-Toe on the placemats while waiting for your food. These times are so much better than scrolling Facebook or TikTok and your kids will appreciate the attention.

continued on page 49

44 WNY Family May 2024


A Letter to My Teenager’s Car

Dear Car, Let me be the first to say, “Welcome to the family!” We are very pleased that you have joined us. You are very much loved and wanted and we looked long and hard for you.

You were the right combination of price (cheap), condition (as good as possible), and safety (not exactly Fort Knox on wheels, but we tried).

Car, I hope you have thick skin, I mean, paint. That’s because you will hear some adults whispering about how they never had a car when they were young and how you are an extravagant purchase. You might hear some people pass judgment on our family because you are in our lives now. Don’t listen to them. They don’t know how much you are needed. Nor do they know just how old and tired you are or how many miles you have seen.

You know, I am old and tired, too. I’ve also seen a lot of miles. However, I think we both still have a lot of life left in us!

Car, I’m reaching out to you because you have a very important role in our family.

You see, you will transport my teen driver in the coming years. I hope that you will function as promised and, when you can’t, that you’ll let me know promptly. In return, I promise I’ll fix you to the best of my ability and my wallet’s ability.

Car, there will be times my teenager will be less than careful with you. I apologize in advance. His father and I have told him over and over and over again how he is supposed to drive. He has passed two segments of driver’s education demonstrating how he is supposed to drive. He has logged 50 hours of

supervised time behind the wheel driving how he is supposed to drive.

But I know how I am supposed to eat and that doesn’t stop me from indulging every now and then (curse you, Olive Garden breadsticks!). So, when my teenager indulges in a stop too suddenly or he turns you too sharply, even though he knows he shouldn’t, please take care of him.

Car, not only do you have the responsibility of keeping my teen safe and getting him to and fro, but you will also provide much needed transportation for my younger child.

That’s right, you will carry two of my babies as they go to school or practice.

I beg of you, keep my babies safe.

You will also meet some of my teen’s friends and I hope that you get them safely where they need to go. And yes, there may be some things spilled, said, or done by my teenager and his friends that both of us don’t want spilled, said or done.

Hang in there. I’m saying that for me as much as for you.

I also want to apologize for the stinky sports equipment that is about to make its second home in your trunk. I know it doesn’t smell pretty. If it’s any consolation, I’ve been toting it in my trunk to various practices and games for a long time. You’ll be okay. Stinky, but okay.

I’ll look out for you, Car. I’ll watch for scrapes and dents if my teen or the school parking lot treats you too rough. I’ll make sure he washes you and gets your oil changed. I know you’ll

continued on page 49

May 2024 WNY Family 45

Specia l


What It’s Like to Live with Tics and Tourette Syndrome


feel like I have to flick my wrist all the time.”

This was the first sign that Melissa’s 11-yearold daughter had developed a tic, but she didn’t know it yet. She told her daughter to try to think of something else. Then her daughter said she felt like she had to move her neck forward. Her daughter did this motion so frequently that her neck hurt. At this point, Melissa took her daughter to see her pediatrician who diagnosed the behaviors as tics.

Tics are repeated, involuntary muscle movements which can be motor (movements like eye blinking and head jerking) or vocal (sounds like throat clearing and grunting). In order for a person to be diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome (TS) they must exhibit multiple motor tics and vocal tics for one year. If a person only has one type of tic for under a year like Melissa’s daughter (who only had motor tics), then they meet the criteria for Provisional Tic Disorder.

Tourette Syndrome is considered a neurodevelopmental disorder that is a condition of the nervous system. According to the CDC, it is estimated that 1 out of every 162 children in the United States has Tourette Syndrome and about half of those children are undiagnosed. A research study in 2004 found that 100,000 people in the United States have TS. Often people with Tourette Syndrome have other diagnoses, such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

Challenges People Encounter with Tics and Tourette Syndrome

Lack of Understanding

“The biggest challenge that I faced growing up with TS is the ignorance that exists for the medical condition. Many

people don’t know what TS is or choose to not believe it when I try to explain it to them,” says Brad Cohen, author of Front of the Class: How Tourette Syndrome Made Me the Teacher I Never Had.

Cohen was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome by a neurologist after being referred by his pediatrician when he was in 4th grade (age 10). He experiences a vocal tic that occurs several times per minute. Some people refer to his tic as a “barking sound” while others hear it as a “dra” or a “whah.” Cohen also experiences motor tics such as jerking his neck or arm, while other times he blinks his eyes.

People Assume You Have a Behavioral Problem

“In school, TS comes across as a behavior problem. This is not the case, as it is a neurological disorder. It is tough enough to live with the condition and then I also have to try to prove myself to others, which is a challenge I have to deal with daily,” says Cohen.

Cohen discusses some of the difficulties he faced in school due to his disorder which led to him becoming a teacher and writing a book.

“People didn’t believe in me because I had TS. Teachers only saw the bad in me. They made me apologize for the noises I made. I was sent to time out daily and even got suspended. I wanted to be that teacher to see the good in kids. When nobody else can see it, I wanted to be that person. Because every child deserves a chance despite the disabilities and weaknesses they may have,” says Cohen.

Cohen also discusses that people who have TS often have other disorders like OCD, ADHD, sensory issues, and anxiety.

“It is tough enough to manage the tics that occur because

46 WNY Family May 2024
Insp ire Th ri  Advocate P otential Growth Abilit y

of TS, but when you add on these comorbid conditions it is that much tougher,” says Cohen.

Lack of Diagnosis

A lack of a diagnosis may result in people not receiving services or support for their behaviors. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Strokes (NINDS), it is common for people to never receive a Tourette Syndrome diagnosis since families and physicians are unfamiliar with TS or they may mistake their tics for other problems like vision issues or allergies. Often people are self-diagnosed.

Bill, age 42 and the owner of The Expat, never received an official diagnosis of Tourette Syndrome but was diagnosed with ADHD. He has experienced vocal and motor tics for the past 34 years, so he does meet the criteria for a diagnosis. His vocal tics consist of high-pitched and deep vocal noises while his motor tics are blinking, and repeatedly looking at one of his shoulders (shoulder checking).

“When I was made aware of Tourette Syndrome, I only thought it was for people that shouted obscenities and couldn’t control it,” says Bill.

Pain and Muscle Spams

People who experience tics may develop muscle spasms and pain.

“I worked with an 11-year-old patient who experienced pain in his neck due to his head spasms and pain in his abdomen due to abdominal spasms. I provided acupuncture and moxibustion herbal treatment to relax the muscles and increase the circulation of blood,” says Kerry Boyle, a licensed acupuncturist at Integrative Acupuncture.

Boyle explains that in addition to the physical pain, patients may also experience anxiety and depression symptoms due to their feelings of shame about their tics.

Ways They Overcome These Challenges

One way that Cohen overcame the challenges he experienced related to Tourette Syndrome was by talking about his disorder in an open and honest way from a young age.

“I learned about the power of education. When you educate others and tell them why you are so different, it’s a whole new world. The reason this happens is that now they know. People must decide what they want to do with the information. Most people appreciate the information as they now know why I’d make the noises I do,” says Cohen.

Another way Cohen educated people was to write a book, Front of the Class: How Tourette Syndrome Made Me the Teacher I Never Had (which is also a movie), about his experience growing up with Tourette Syndrome.

“I wrote my book to share my story in hopes that kids growing up today will have an easier life than I did growing up with TS. I also wrote my book for every educator, to remind them about the difference they make. To remind them if they just believe in a child and focus on their strengths, then that child can grow up and follow their dreams despite the challenges they have in life,” says Cohen.

Some people will suppress their tics in public situations and, then later in private, their tics will begin again.

“For me, the best thing has been to give in to the less annoying and visible tics like shoulder checking. I am doing that now. The more annoying ones I had to actively fight my body to stop because it brought on too much attention growing up. It seems that I will always have some, but I would much rather have ones few notice than the attention-grabbing ones,” says Bill.

Types of Treatment

There isn’t a cure for Tourette Syndrome and, since many people are undiagnosed, they may not be aware of treatment options or seek treatment.

Drawing attention to the tic usually only makes it worse, so one form of treatment is to avoid calling attention to it.

Reducing stress is another way to lessen the tics since

continued on page 48

May 2024 WNY Family 47

We take a look at topics important to parents of children with special needs in each and every issue of WNY Family Magazine with our monthly column.

Insp ire

stress often causes the tics to increase.

“I think my tics are worse when I am stressed. I notice the tics more, and the tics happen more often when I am around others for long periods of time. I am an introvert, so I can handle large gatherings, but it can be tiring, and this makes it easier for the tics to happen,” says Bill.

Specia l N eeds

Th ri  Advocate

P otential Growth Abilit y Strategies Empower

Does your business, agency or organization serve children with special needs in our community?

Their parents are looking for your services all year long. Advertise in conjunction with this informative column and let our readership of nearly 55,000 WNY parents know about your important programs and services each and every month.

For more information, call Paul Kline at 716-836-3486

Counseling has been an effective treatment for people with Tourette Syndrome to deal with the tics and dealing with how people react to their tics. A new type of therapy called Comprehensive Behavioral Intervention for Tics (CBIT) is a way to identify environmental factors that make their tics worse and also teaches skills to the person about how to create environments that are less stressful. One study found that 52% of the children who did CBIT had significant symptom improvement.

Boyle treats patients by using acupuncture to help release endogenous dopamine and serotonin which helps the patient feel a sense of relaxation and calmness. A recent research study found that acupuncture is an effective form of treatment for people with Tourette Syndrome.

“We are encouraged to report 80% of our patients with Tourette Syndrome report a reduction in pain from tics, frequency and intensity of tics, and anxiety with regular acupuncture care,” says Boyle.

What People Should Know About Living with Tics and Tourette Syndrome

There are a lot of misunderstandings or incorrect information about Tourette Syndrome which has resulted in people with this disorder experiencing punishment, ridicule, and prejudice.

When most people think of Tourette Syndrome, they assume that means people yell out obscenities but only a minority of people with TS experience this symptom.

“We may look different and sound different, but we have the same dreams and aspirations as everyone else. If you take a moment and listen, you will see that people with TS are intelligent,” says Cohen.

Cheryl Maguire holds a Master of Counseling Psychology degree. She is married and is the mother of twins and a daughter. Her writing has been published in The New York Times, National Geographic, Washington Post, Parents Magazine, AARP, Healthline, Your Teen Magazine and many other publications. She is a professional member of ASJA. You can find her at Twitter @CherylMaguire05

48 WNY Family May 2024
SPECIAL NEEDS continued...

6. Wear something that makes you feel confident. Mother’s Day as a single mom might be a hard day for you, so go into it with as much support as you can. Start with what you’re wearing because when you feel good, you look good. Bonus tip: try on the outfit you plan to wear for the holiday, the day before. That way you can fix any last-minute snafus that might come up or add finishing touches like jewelry.

7. It’s okay to talk about past Mother’s Day memories with your kids. I always made sure to be honest with myself about where I was at in my healing journey. I kept it kid-appropriate and was mindful of what I shared but I did have moments with my kids when we would reminisce about times past or things we did with their dad in previous years. I wanted my kids to know that they could still include fun times we’d had with their dad and just because we weren’t married any more, didn’t mean

that he wasn’t still their dad. I do believe this attitude helped my kids feel safe in expressing their feelings about when they missed him or when they wished we were still married.

There will be many more holidays for you to experience as a single mom. I hope this list is a good starting point for you to build from when you experience more ‘firsts’. As a therapist, I tell my clients to ‘bubble-wrap’ themselves when they’re walking through hard times. All this means is that they are a little bit gentler and patient with who they are in their current season of life. It also means that they might need to protect themselves when they’re feeling more vulnerable than normal by doing things such as the ones from this list. Take care of yourself this Mother’s Day and remember to be in the moment.

Meagan Ruffing is a parenting journalist, mental health therapist, and single mom who tries to do her best each day. She doesn’t always get things right but continually strives to do better.

need new tires sooner rather than later (can we try for later?). Rest assured that I know how important your job is in the family and he and I will do our share to help you carry it out.

Thank you for waiting for our family. It seemed like we would never find you, but then we did. I’m hoping this is the start of a long and beautiful relationship.

Love, Mom

This article was originally published by Your Teen for Parents.

Katy M. Clark is a writer and mom of two who embraces her imperfections on her blog Experienced Bad Mom.

An advertiser can expect a 43% higher readership from larger, full color ads.*
But ALL well designed ads should follow these principles to be as effective as possible:

ATTENTION Are you talking to me? Good ads should grab the attention of your target customers.

INTEREST Why are you talking to me? Effective advertising helps to generate interest in your product or service among the right people.

DESIRE Nice idea, but do I really need it? Your advertising should create a desire to learn more about the product or service you are promoting.

ACTION What will I have to do? The advertisement should also provide a call to action and tell your customers exactly how and where they can buy your promoted product or service.

May 2024 WNY Family 49
*Source: Cahners Research TEENS & TWEENS continued...

Signs Your Kids Need to See a Pediatric Eye Doctor

About one-quarter of kids need eye glasses or have other vision problems that require a visit to the ophthalmologist or optometrist. But how do you know if your kids are among them? “Small children can’t tell you if they’re not seeing well,” says pediatric ophthalmologist Dr. Luke Randall, “and older kids may not recognize their blurry eyesight isn’t normal.” Here are the most common signs that it’s time to make an appointment with a pediatric eye doctor:

They sit or stand very close to the television screen

“One of the biggest hints that a child may need an eye exam,” Dr. Randall says, “is taking note of where they sit when watching TV. Dashing up to stand in front of the television is usually a sign that their eyes need to be checked out.” If your kids sit or stand very close to the television screen, chances are that something might be wrong with their eye sight, not just that they can’t get close enough to all the exciting programs that they’re watching.

They hold phones and laptops close to their face

The same is true when your kids hold their phones or laptops close to their face. “If your child needs to sit very close to screens to see them clearly or needs to get very close to text to read it,” says optometrist Dr. Sara Johnson, “it can be sign that they have myopia (nearsightedness).” Phones and laptops are designed to be held at a safe viewing distance, and holding them too close can have a detrimental impact on kids’ eyesight.

They hunch over their schoolwork

Another tell-tale sign is that your kids are hunched over when they do their schoolwork or are drawing something.

“Kids who need an eye exam,” Dr. Randall says, “will often sit hunched over their drawings or homework, which keeps the paper and their writing closer to their faces.”

They have difficulty keeping up with their school work

Often, vision problems can make it difficult for kids to keep up with their school work, and some kids may even stop doing their homework altogether. Optometrist Dr. Russell Lazarus advises parents to be on the look-out for signs like whether their kids read on grade level, lose their place when reading, skip lines, or use their fingers to follow along. You can also ask your kids to read out loud to you, explain what they’ve read, or ask them if the text gets distorted or blurry when they read. “Refractive errors and other vision problems,” Dr. Lazarus says, “can make reading difficult — and affect a child’s overall academic performance.” For younger kids, optometrist Dr. Sarah Lopper says, notice whether they have difficulties recognizing their colors or learning letters or numbers.

They rub their eyes

You can also tell if a trip to the eye doctor is needed by watching to see if they rub their eyes a lot. It’s common to rub your eyes when you’re tired, but if your kids rub their eyes while reading, they may have a vision problem. “Rubbing the eyes is a common practice among children who don’t have the verbal skills to communicate a problem with their vision,” Dr. Lazarus says, “and instead try to rub the blurry vision away.”

They close one eye

Also notice whether they tend to keep one eye closed a lot, especially when they’re reading or playing a game on their phone or laptop. “This might indicate that your child sees better

50 WNY Family May 2024

May is Healthy Vision Month

out of one eye compared to the other,” Dr. Johnson says. “Closing one eye enables the stronger eye to send a clear image to the brain, resulting in clearer vision.” You can also tell which eye your kid is having trouble with by covering each of their eyes one at a time and then asking them what they can see and which eye sees more clearly.

They squint

Squinting is another possible sign of vision problems. When you squint, the shape of your eyes changes a bit, making it easier to see what you’re looking at. It limits the amount of light that enters the eyes and focuses incoming light directly onto the center of the retina. “Squinting (at something close or something at a distance),” Dr. Randall says, “is a dead giveaway that your child’s vision may not be what it can be.”

They complain about headaches

Another sign that it’s time for your kids to go see the eye doctor is if they complain of frequent headaches. “While frequent headaches don’t necessarily mean your child has an eye problem,” Dr. Randall says, “it can be an indicator that a child is having trouble seeing.” This is especially the case when kids complete near vision tasks like doing work on their laptop or read a book. “Headaches typically occur,” Dr. Lazarus says, “when the child’s eye muscles have to work extra hard to focus on the images in front of them.” Another possibility, which an eye doctor can assess, is if they’re photophobic (sensitive to light). “If your child is getting headaches when they are outside for some time,” Dr. Johnson says, “this can be a sign that they’re photophobic.” The eye doctor can prescribe special eyeglass lenses and sunglasses to reduce the severity of your kid’s sensitivity to light and help them see more clearly in bright conditions.

They complain about eye pain and other eye problems

An even clearer sign that something is amiss is if your kids complain about eye pain or other eye problems. “Eye pain may be a symptom of something as minor as eye strain,” Dr. Randall says, “but it can also indicate another health problem.” The same is true for complains about itchy, burning, or scratchy eyes, Dr. Frederick says. The underlying cause could be something minor or something more serious. An eye doctor will be able to tell.

Vision screenings and comprehensive eye exams

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that kids get vision screenings at birth, by 6 months of age, at 3-4 years of age, at 5 years of age, and then once a year. But if you notice any of the signs discussed here, either take your kids to see an ophthalmologist or optometrist to get a comprehensive eye exam or discuss with your pediatrician on what to do next. After all, there are important differences between a vision screening, which is typically done by a pediatrician, and a comprehensive eye exam, which is performed by an ophthalmologist or optometrist. During a comprehensive eye exam, a whole host of issues potentially impacting your kids’ vision will be assessed, and it includes a thorough examination of their ocular health.

Tanni Haas, Ph.D. is a Professor in the Department of Communication Arts, Sciences, and Disorders at The City University of New York – Brooklyn College.

May 2024 WNY Family 51

How to Turn Time Wasters into an Opportunity for Mindfulness

As I approach yet another bright red traffic light, I can feel my heart begin to pound and irritability surge through my veins. These traffic lights are always getting in my way—slowing me down and preventing me from crossing anything off of my ever-growing list of errands. My response is to pull out my phone for those two-to-three-minute increments of red light “free” time. I can respond to a few emails or text messages, but this habit only leads to more stress since I’m constantly looking up to make sure I don’t miss the light turning green because I definitely don’t want to get honked at by the (similarly) impatient driver behind me. Sound familiar?

Many of us spend our days rushing around irritated by all things that seem to waste our time, or ‘time wasters’, but this is only zapping more cortisone through our bodies and exacerbating stress. So, what if we started viewing these moments as golden opportunities for mindfulness throughout our day, whether we are stuck in the school carpool line, sitting in a doctor’s office, standing in a long line at a store, or working on mundane chores?

The Magic of Mindfulness

Mindfulness is the act of focusing on the moment at hand in a non-judgmental way. It gives us an awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment, and allows us to quiet the endless and distracting chatter of our mind so we can focus on “the now.” We can experience mindfulness through both a formal meditation practice or informal ways like deep breathing exercises and paying attention to physical sensations.

According to the Greater Good Science Center at University of California, Berkeley, thousands of studies show that mindfulness improves our physical and mental health because it relaxes us and reduces stress and anxiety. One study, for example, published in the journal Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, suggests that meditating for just 30 minutes a day for eight weeks can increase the density of gray matter in parts of our brain involved with stress, memory, and empathy. These brain changes show that mindful meditation can improve our ability to regulate emotions and control our stress levels.

How to Replace Boredom with Mindfulness

According to Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D., co-founder of The Center for Mindful Living in Los Angeles and author of several books including Uncovering Happiness, boredom, like the boredom felt at a red light, is an emotion intertwined with anxiety. He explained, “We have an automatic reaction to boredom. We tell ourselves that we should be doing something more valuable with our time or that we are missing out on something better. We try to avoid it, so we partake in activities to fill the space, such as stress eating, technology, and other poor habits.”

To be more mindful throughout our day, Dr. Goldstein recommends that we shift our view of dull tasks from a nuisance or impediment and start engaging with them with a sense of curiosity. “By learning to befriend boredom, we can consciously choose what we want to do in that moment and no longer be enslaved by negative emotions. Mindfulness can help transform our perspective during instances that we may otherwise

52 WNY Family May 2024
“Many of us spend our days rushing around irritated by all things that seem to waste our time, “
Mindfulness is the act of focusing on the moment at hand in a non-judgmental way.

consider to be boring. Being mindful and still can be filled with curiosity, daydreaming, awe, and even bliss.”

We have endless opportunities to introduce mindful curiosity throughout our daily routine. Here are some ways you can get started.

In the Car

Parents tend to turn into taxi drivers for our kids. While trying to get from one activity to another, we hit all sorts of annoying obstacles. We can learn how to make our time in the car more mindful with a few tricks. Dr. Ronald Siegel, author and professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School, suggests drivers practice a taillight meditation while waiting behind other cars. Simply focus on the colors and shapes of the taillights in front of you while remaining relaxed and alert. Let your body soften and your eyes lose focus for a few moments while stopped. Another idea, when stopped, is to really open your eyes and look around to savor nature’s beauty. Take a moment to notice the luscious trees, colorful flowers, and ever-changing clouds in the sky.

Kitchen Chores

I don’t know about you, but I feel like I spend half of my life in the kitchen. Next time you find yourself dreading these repetitive duties, try to turn them into a mini-meditation session by engaging your senses. When you are doing the dishes, think about how the soap feels and smells, see the colors reflected off of the bubbles, hear the water, and recall the flavors of your meal.

When you are setting or clearing the table ask yourself these questions:

• How heavy does each cup, plate, utensil, and napkin feel in your hand?

• Are the objects smooth or rough, hard or soft?

• What sounds do you hear when you place each object on the table?

• What colors and patterns do you see?

• What do the plates smell like as you clear them off the table?

You can also take a step back from your parenting role and imagine you

are a child experiencing the task for the first time. “Engaging with a ‘beginner’s mind’ causes our brain to light up and helps us feel excited and energetic,” revealed Dr. Goldstein.

Putting Your Kids to Bed

The bedtime routine can feel like the worse possible part of our day. Dr. Goldstein recalled how he would get so irritated during his sons’ bedtime because he couldn’t stop thinking about how he needed to get back to the pile of work sitting on his desk. Yet, his kids were coming up with every excuse possible to delay bedtime, which would make him even more stressed. Instead of blowing up at them, he tapped into mindfulness to recognize that, yes, this is a challenging moment. “It helped me to actually name the experience by telling myself this is really hard. That act of being mindful in that stressful moment helped diminish my stress and anger.”

Kate Hanley, personal development coach and author of Stress Less, suggests parents look forward to their children’s bedtime as a chance to practice mindfulness. “When you snuggle with your kids you can count your breaths. If your children insist that you stay in the room while they fall asleep, instead of getting anxious about everything you could be doing, use that time to meditate until they fall asleep and you can quietly sneak out.”

Our kids are like clever little spies— watching our every move. By turning irritating parts of our day into a more relaxing, introspective time, we are not only helping ourselves but also passing along an invaluable tool to our children so they can live happier, healthier lives with a little mindfulness magic.

Sandi Schwartz is an award-winning author, freelance journalist, and mother of two. She has written extensively about parenting, wellness, and environmental issues. As the founder and director of the Ecohappiness Project, her mission is to inspire and educate families to build a nature habit to feel happier and calmer.

May 2024 WNY Family 53

Unite Loved Ones with a Luscious Dessert

(Family Features)

Celebration-worthy treats are perfect ways to cap off days spent with those you love, whether there’s a special occasion or you’re simply looking for creative ways to share more moments together. As a beloved staple in American households for generations, pie provides a sweet, delicious way to bring family and friends to the table.

By bringing some of the most popular pie flavors together, the Tart Cherry Unity Pie offers the familiar, distinct sweet-tart flavor of Montmorency tart cherries that pair well with pecans, apple and pumpkin pie spice for a sense of nostalgia representative of family, tradition and celebration.

In this unique recipe, the bold and vibrant flavors of tart cherries take center stage, complemented by the subtle sweetness of apples and crunch of pecans. With their burst of brightness and acidity, tart cherries perfectly balance the other flavors to create a pie fit for any occasion.

U.S.-grown tart cherries are a particularly versatile ingredient that makes them an ideal partner for other beloved ingredients and flavors. In fact, as the demand for sour, less sweet food and beverages continues to gain momentum, they provide a multi-faceted, sweet-tart profile for favorite foods and drinks. While tart cherries are increasingly featured in a wide array of recipes, they remain a favorite ingredient in confectionary items and baked goods like pies.

Slow down your fast-paced world and savor a slice of this timeless dessert alongside loved ones for a moment of

respite. With its sweet and tangy filling, flaky crust and tart cherry topping, you can indulge in life’s simple pleasures for a sense of coziness and comfort.

Visit to find more celebration-worthy tart cherry desserts.

Tart Cherry Unity Pie

Recipe courtesy of the U.S. Tart Cherry Industry

Servings: 8

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 55 minutes


1 pie crust (9 inches)

2 cups canned tart cherry pie filling

2 cups canned apple pie filling

1 egg, beaten (for egg wash)


1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/3 cup pecans, roughly chopped

1 pinch salt

4 tablespoons butter, melted

Pumpkin Spice Whipped Cream:

1 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon pumpkin spice

Preheat oven to 400º F.

Fit pie crust to 9-inch pie dish. Crimp edges and use fork to poke holes in bottom. Place pie crust in freezer to chill.

In large bowl, combine tart cherry pie filling and apple pie filling. Set aside.

To make streusel: In bowl, use fork

to mix flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar, pecans and salt. Pour butter over dry ingredients and mix until ingredients come together in clumps.

To assemble pie: Pour cherry-apple filling into prepared pie crust and sprinkle streusel on top. Brush beaten egg onto exposed pie crust edges.

Bake 25 minutes. At 10-minute mark, cover pie dish with foil to prevent crust from over-browning. After 25 minutes, lower oven temperature to 375 F and bake 30 minutes.

To make pumpkin spice whipped cream: In large bowl or bowl of stand mixer, add heavy cream, powdered sugar and pumpkin spice. Use hand mixer or beater attachment on stand mixer to beat on medium-high speed 3-5 minutes until stiff peaks form. Refrigerate whipped cream until ready to serve.

Let pie cool 2-3 hours then dollop pumpkin spice whipped cream on top, slice and serve.

Substitution: Storebought whipped cream topped with pumpkin spice can be used in place of homemade pumpkin spice whipped cream.

54 WNY Family May 2024


The three sisters in Native American cuisine refers to squash, beans, and corn. In Niagara Falls, it is a restaurant in the Casino. Like their AllDay Menu, the Kids’ Menu offers breakfast, lunch and dinner. Breakfast includes a choice of bacon or sausage and runs in price from $4.50 to $5.95. Choices include One for All (one egg, one pancake, and one slice of toast), Silver Dollar Pancakes (four mini buttermilk pancakes served with warm syrup), Chocolate Chip mini pancakes with syrup, Sunny Scramble (eggs and toast), and French Toast Strips (four strips with syrup).

Three Sisters Cafe 310 4th Street

Niagara Falls, NY 14303





FOOD 5/5




More choices are available for lunch and dinner, ranging from $5.50 to $7.95. They are Grilled Cheese, served with fries and applesauce; Cheesey Burger, served with fries and applesauce; Chicken Fingers, served with fries and applesauce; and Turkey Junior, sliced roast turkey served with mashed potatoes, applesauce end cranberry sauce. While waiting for the friendly fare, Kids can tackle a maze or color the pictures of two cute kids and three cute animals.

I started with the Soup of the Day, sometimes called Soup of the Moment (Cup $5.00, Bowl $7.00), a generous creamy seafood concoction. It would have been nice, though, to have a roll.

Keeping with the seafood, I ordered a special that is not always on the menu, containing lobster, shrimp, clams, oysters, and mussels. I would assume the kitchen would be consistent with the fine quality of the items always on the menu. Most likely the Pan Seared Salmon ($26.00) and the Fish Fry ($20.00) are worth ordering.

Dad’s House Salad ($6.00) was more interesting than the usual side, with some quartered hard-boiled eggs, along with the greens and bits. This was part of a special menu for a special day. His Spicy Asian Chicken (small $13.00, large $18.00) called out to be shared by me. This grilled chicken breast was accompanied by ro-

maine, savoy cabbage, shaved red onion, kalamata olives, pepperoncini, feta cheese, tomato, cucumber, pita bread, and tzatziki. Quite a combination!

So, what else can you order? Under entrees you might try the Chicken Bacon Ranch Mac and Cheese ($19.00). That is pan seared chicken, bacon, ranch cheddar cheese sauce, and a garlic stick. Under Sandwiches, served with French fries and a dill pickle there is Avocado Toast ($15.00), ricotta cheese, guacamole spread, and pico de gallo with sliced avocado on Italian toast.

We didn’t find any “way out” items, but many of the dishes are paired, very tastily and attractively. Such is one of the salads called Sliced Fruit and Berry Plate ($16.00), fresh seasonal fruit, berries, yogurt dip, and banana bread.

Along with these healthy items, such as the Veggie Burger ($16.00), there are local specials, such as Potato and Cheddar Pierogi ($12.00) and the Niagara Falls Favorite, Pizza logs ($12.00).

If you’re wondering about the Breakfast All Day, there are two for $15.00, the All American (two eggs with choice of bacon or sausage, patty or link) and an Omelet (Western Three Cheese, Meat Lovers or Ham and Cheese), served with homefries and toast.

This was a first-time visit to the Casino, and we certainly enjoyed just walking through to enter and exit, remembering a meal that more than exceeded our expectations, partly because of the really friendly staff – and of course, the food.

Barb has been happily doing the Kiddie Gourmet for over 35 years. She has two aging children and four grandchildren, all living in Florida. She is a home instructor and community education cooking instructor for Williamsville Central Schools. She is the 2023 recipient of the Buffalo State Alumni Association Senior Service Award.

Looking to strike up a conversation with your child?
Here are some FUN QUESTIONS to get things going!
What is your favorite song?
If you could be a character from any book, who would you be? If you could open a store, what would you sell?
What do you want to be when you grow up?
When you become a grown-up, what’s the first thing you want to do?
May 2024 WNY Family 55
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