Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tell us your stories!

Recently, we wrapped up our summer sessions at Via West.  We sent out a survey to all families / group homes that sent their participant to Via West in order to continue to grow and improve our services for next year. Now, we want to hear from YOU!! What is your relationship with Via West Campus? What programs do you think we should offer?  How about number of respite weekends?

Share a story with us about your favorite participant, your favorite memory of Via West Summer, or what your favorite lunch was (mine is the cheese pizza in the trays...mmmmm).

We can only grow as an organization if we listen to our feedback, so please, share with us!! If you want to post a comment here, go right ahead!  If you want to send a private message, please send it to cwhyte@viaservices.org

Thursday, August 25, 2011

FREE Weekend Sessions Available Through Grant from Autism Speaks!!!!!

Big news!!! Thanks to a grant from Autism Speaks, we are able to send 26 autistic participants to the Via West Campus this fall FOR FREE!!!!

Too good to be true?? Nope! If you know a participant diagnosed with Autism and would otherwise not able to afford a session at Via West Campus, then send them to our website!  All you have to do is fill out our financial application and send it in to Molly Young at myoung@viaservices.org with a note that you are interested in the Autism Speaks Campership.  For more information about our Fall and Spring schedule, please check our website at www.viaservices.org.

See you soon at Via West Campus!!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

End of the Summer!!!! Recoup, refresh, and review

Wow! those 10 weeks really flew by didn't they?  To all of the counselors, staff, and volunteers that worked up at Via West this summer... THANK YOU from everyone at Via Services.  Your dedication and hard work makes Via West Campus the great place that it is.  We wish everyone safe travels back home, and hope that you will keep Via close to your heart.  Don't forget to check out our Facebook page for pictures from this summer.  Here are a few of our favorites!!

We hope to see everyone next summer for another amazing time at Via West Campus!!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Across the Lifespan Feedback from Parents

Today,our adult participants checked into Via West Campus for their second session of Nutrition Across the Lifeapan.  As our participants were checking in, parents had so many nice things to say about the program and how much it has affected their home lives, and the health of their participants. 

Phyllis Bartlett told me that her daughter Julie cooked chicken cacciatore from the recipe book we provided, and served it along with a full meal for her parents' 43rd anniversary!
Julie Bartlett (far right) poses with her Nutrition Across the Lifespan fellow chefs.

Fred and Pam Tavernier raved about how much slimmer Jeanine is, how she is eating slower, and that she is choosing lots of "go foods." Pam and Jeanine are cooking their way through the cookbook we provided, marking off each recipe as they complete it.

Rowena Hinojosa said that Sam is cooperating more with his heart-healthy diet, and commented that the information we teach supports what she and Sam's dad have been trying to get across for a long time. When it comes from us at Via West, she noted, it means more to Sam. 
Samuel Hinojosa and Via West counselor at the Santa Clara Farmer's Market
 Toni Hall, Stacey's mom, spoke at length about how great this program has been for Stacey's diabetes management and weight control. She shared that she and her daughter are enjoying the cookbook and the low-fat foods in it.

All of the clients and parents that checked in this morning are very excited about the iPads we'll use this session to teach nutrition and share recipes. They were also very happy to hear about the 3rd and last session on November 18-20, saying they were pleased with the adult focus, the opportunity to cook parts of the Thanksgiving meal and the SLP and iPad opportunities. (Be sure to check our website for our upcoming Fall / Spring Via West Schedule!!)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Volunteer Opportunity!

Hi everyone! A good friend of Via's (Embrace All Abilities) is putting on an indoor rock climbing program for individuals with disabilities and needs volunteers.

It seems like a very cool program and there are spots for anyone who wants to participate!

Here is the info from Jason Kunkel, Founder and CEO of Embrace All Abilities:

The program runs from August 22nd-August 26th and is from 1-2pm each day at Planet Granite Sunnyvale. We are limiting the program to 6 participants (adults and youth) so that each participant receives a sufficient amount of one-on-one or even two-on-one support.

We have 2 types of volunteer positions...in one position, volunteers belay our participants as they climb relatively high altitudes; in the other position, volunteers offer support (i.e. giving suggestions of the next rock that the participants should reach for) to participants that are "bouldering", climbing a relatively low-altitude rock structure without a harness and rope.

Volunteers that are interested in belaying are required to go through a one-hour workshop hosted by Planet Granite, and on another day become certified by Planet Granite in belay. The workshop and certification are free for our volunteers. Planet Granite has given us a host of times that are convenient for them to offer free belay lessons: http://www.embraceallabilities.org/Current_Programs.html ...if any of these times do not work, I could set up a special session as well.

Volunteers that wish to offer support to our participants that are "bouldering" are not required to go through any training.

If you are interested in helping out, please contact Jason at the number / e-mail address below:
Jason Kunkel
Founder & CEO
Embrace All Abilities Inc.
Personal: (408) 605-1845

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Upcoming Events!!!

The Fall is a busy time of the year for Via Services, and we will be present at many upcoming events for the special needs community.  Here is a full list of all the resource fairs, walks, and celebrations we will be taking part in this Fall.  Come by and say HI to us at any of these!!

Sunday, August 21st 
Rolling Thunder Motorcycle Club will be hosting their 17th Annual Poker Run for the Kids, benefiting Via Services.  Motorcycle ride starts at the Harley Davidson San Jose store on Parkmoor, sign up from 9-11am. For more information about how to participate, click here!

Saturday, August 27th
Great America 1st Annual Disability Awareness Day - The day will be an opportunity for individuals with disabilities and their families to attend the park at a reduced price of only $36.00, which will include a lunch. Stop by the park for a day of fun and come by Via's booth to say hi and gather some information about our programs.

Saturday, September 17th
To our great honor, Via Services has been invited to be a potential beneficiary on the huge 'Walk to the Future Silicon Valley', a multi-thousand person 5K walk-a-thon in Alviso / North San Jose.
WALKERS SELECT THEIR FAVORITE NONPROFITS to receive pledges the walkers raised.  So we want YOU to walk with us and raise pledges for Via Services. Registration includes a T-shirt, free parking, free food, and entertainment. Registration is only $20/adult, $5/youth 12-17, free for children under 12.
For more information, and to sign up to walk, please click here! I hope you can join us September 17 . It will be a lot of fun, and a fantastic way to support Via

Saturday, October 1st
Morgan Autism Center will be hosting "Autism Intervention" Conference at Santa Clara University. The day will include powerful presentations and informational workshops for all who attend.Speakers include Via West Mom ShannonDes Roches Rosa and Via West's iPad expert Danielle Sampson.  Danielle will be at Via West next week to film some of her sessions, then use the footage in her lecture.  For more information, visit  www.morgancenter.org or call (408) 241-8161.

Thursday, October 6th
Disability Awareness Day at San Jose City Hall will be hosting the 4th Annual Disability Awareness Day at San José City Hall Rotunda and Plaza. For the past four years Councilman Constant, along with the support and collaboration from The Valley Medical Center Foundation, City of San José Office of Therapeutic Services, San Andreas Regional Center and various community based organizations have organized this invaluable event that embraces the abilities of all persons with disabilities. Come visit the Via team!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Ava: chef, counselor, friend

Ava Romero is a former participant who has been working as a junior counselor for several years at the Via West Campus. She is a serious chef, and also has a cooking blog. She just posted an entry on her blog about the Nutrition Across the Lifespan program and her experience with it http://www.chefavamarie.blogspot.com/

Thank you Ava for your kind words!! We are so glad that you like the program :)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Health Self Management Program at Via West a Big Hit!

As you may know, this summer Via West implemented a wellness program called Across the Lifespan.  Much of this program was developed by our very own Sandy Keefe, RN.  Through three programs; nutrition, physical activity, and health self management, our participants learned how to eat right, exercise, and make good choices that will promote healthy living.  We recently received some feedback from Robin Carbone on what this program has meant to her son Ben:

"Hi Sandy,

I just want to let you know the Health Self-Management program has been a big hit with Ben.  Since he's come home from camp he routinely uses the Go, Slow, Whoa food categories and requested whole grain pasta for dinner.  He's taking more bike rides and showing his cousins how you can use the Wii for exercise.  

Ben loves to learn and this program really engaged him. He is quite proud that he can recite the five rights of medication.  Thanks to you and your entire team, and especially Jennifer who worked with Ben.  Last week at camp was quite special for him. 


Robin "

Thank you, Robin, for your kind words.  We are absolutely thrilled that Ben liked the program and we look forward to offering more of these types of programs in the future!
Ben Carbone

Ben  Carbone

Ben and Via West Staff

Across the Lifespan group at a working orchard in San Jose

Monday, August 1, 2011

Adaptive Vaulting at Cooper Garrod! Great program for kids with special needs.

A few weeks ago, CVI*,** Saratoga, sponsored by the Cooper-Garrod Estate Vineyards, held its biannual vaulting competition June 25-26 at historic Garrod Farms in Saratoga.  Vaulting, for those who are not familiar (just as we were not until the tournament!) is described as gymnastics on horseback, and is very impressive to see in person.  Thanks to the generosity of Jan Garrod and Cooper-Garrod Estate Vineyards, all the proceeds from this tournament went to benefit the Via West Campus!
Mt. Eden vaulting team at CVI Saratoga
 During the tournament, I was introduced to several coaches who run an adaptive vaulting program every Wednesday at Cooper Garrod.  One of our very own Via West participants, Galina Griffy, has been participating in this program for about 6 years!  Yesterday, I took the drive over to CG to watch Galina practice with her coach and learn more about the program. She, along with her instructor Kim Dunham and peer aid Jordyn, practiced moves on a stationary barrel as well as on a horse named Soda Pop. 
Galina practices on stationary barrel before her lesson

Peer Jordyn assists Galina getting on Soda Pop

Instructed by Kim Dunham, Galina practices her routine

Galina and Soda Pop
Galina regularly competes in adaptive vaulting competitions, recently taking home 2nd place in a tournament!  Galina's joy when she is caring for horses and practicing her vaulting is infectious.  Thank  you to Cooper Garrod for this amazing program, and we hope that other participants at Via West will be able to take advantage of the fun!