Wednesday, October 19, 2011

First Respite Weekend a Great Time for Everyone!

The first respite weekend of the 2011-2012, "Homecoming and Sports" was last weekend and gave parents and participants a first look into the new programing features Via Services will be offering during sessions.

 Danielle Samson, a Speech and Language Pathologist led a hybrid iPad/social communication session.  This activity built on former iPad sessions and was geared thematically to our dance to help participants with social communication options they later used that evening.  Counselors also built social communication by teaching our participants a few dances, including the classic Electric Slide!
Counselors instructing participants

The College of Adaptive Arts performed their amazing combination of dance, cheer and song for and with our participants.  The exciting pep rally showcased performances by the "Showboaters" and the "Spirit Squad", choreographed dances, cheers led by CAA founder DeAnna Persai, and group activities.  Thank you DeAnna and CAA for a wonderful show!

The Collage of Adaptive Arts "Showboaters"

After a delicious dinner, ladies from San Jose State Sigma Omicron Pi Sorority came to Via West to help prepare our female participants for their special night.  The SJSU students did hair, makeup, nails, and helped the ladies pick out their perfect dress for the evening.  Once everyone was dressed and looking their best, corsages and boutonnieres were pinned on and a formal picture was taken.
Sigma Omicron Pi Sorority at Via West

Doing nails

Hair Salon

Ready for the dance

Beautiful flowers for every participant

Via West Director Leslie Davis pinning flowers on participant

Group shot before going into the dance

Finally, at the Homecoming Dance, professional DJ Randy Lira from RPM mixed it up on the dance floor!  Randy has worked for years with the Special Olympics and gave our participants a high energy mix of new pop and old classics.  Randy has a unique way of involving everyone in the fun and has a knack for touching everyone in a special way.  Thank you so much for your show Randy!!


DJ Randy Lira handing out glow necklaces
To see all the pictures from this weekend, please visit our Facebook Page!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Via West Launches Counselor-in-Training Program

On October 1, 2011, eight veteran Via West participants completed a four-hour training course to become Counselors-in-Training, or CITs.  Stacey Hall, Anne Berry, Kelly Anderson, Jenni Pencer, Charlie Colby, Julie Paulsen, Jessica Codromac and Samuel Hinojosa worked closely with associate director Sandy Keefe, junior counselor Ava Romero and unit director Ashley Rice to master the skills and knowledge they need to serve as coaches and mentors to their peers.
All eight passed the course with flying colors, and will begin serving as CITs during the children’s Healthy Halloween session on October 21-23 at Via West. Some will work closely with counselors and unit directors in the lodges, while others will contribute their expertise during sports, creative arts, dramatic arts and other programs. 
The CIT program is just one more example of Via’s commitment to promoting competence and independence among the clients we serve.  For information about the next CIT training course in the spring, please contact Sandy Keefe at, or 408-867-1115, extension 106.

Back Row: Stacey Hall, Ava Romero, Sandy Keefe, Anne Berry, Kelly Anderson
Front Row: Jenni Pencer, Charlie Colby, Julie Paulsen, Samuel Hinojosa, Jessica Codromac

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Visit Via Services at the 4th Annual Disability Awareness Day!

Come visit Via Services as we present a workshop on how to use iPads to play, learn, and socialize. Workshop is from 9-10am at the San Jose Rotunda room 120.

Disability Awareness Day is a celebration of unity, inviting the entire community to participate while promoting awareness and appreciation of people with differing abilities. Disability Awareness Day provides educational opportunities to the general public on the many barriers people encounter in our society. Disability Awareness Day seeks to empower persons with differing abilities and their families through information and resource acquisition to overcome those barriers. Disability Awareness Day celebrates diversity and strives to build an integrated community in which all people are valued.

Disability Awareness Day includes:
  • Free Educational Workshops
  • Live Music and Entertainment, Presented by MCs Sam and Lisa of K-Bay
  • Demos
  • Art Displays
  • Resource Fair
  • Games and Activities
Entertainment Schedule
10-10:15 Subacute Saratoga Children's Hospital/ scribbles and giggles pediatric day health for special needs kids
10:15-10:30 Elwyn Inc.
10:30-10:45 Andrew Wilson, solo drum performance
10:45-11:20 Friends of children with special needs group performance with Lawrence Wang, saxophonist
11:20-11:50 Bernard Smith, keyboard and solo vocalist
11:50- 12:25 Nick Guzman...Headliner
12:30 welcome/Lunchtime Program
12:45-1:15 Basketball with Lee
1:15-1:45 College of Adaptive Arts
1:45-2:15 Colours in Motion dance team 

Workshop Schedule*
*The current workshop schedule is still being finalized so workshops currently listed may be subject to change
Workshops at 9 AM
Location: Room 120
Workshop: How iPads Provide Opportunities to Learn, Play, and Socialize
Presenter: Shannon Des Roches Rosa, co-founder and editor of the book “Thinking Person's Guide to Autism” and blog project “Squidalicious”, and Via Services
·Location: Room 119
Workshop: How Work Affects Social Security and SSI Disability Benefits
Presenter: Mel Irvin, Disability Claims Representative
·Location: Room 118
Workshop: Building a Village of Support
Presenter: Anna Wang, Vice President of Programs at Friends of Children with Special Needs
Workshops at 10 AM
· Location: Room 120
Workshop: The Value of an Inclusive Early Education
Presenter: Dilnavaz Bamboat, Program Manager / Inclusion Specialist, Milestone Preschool
·Location: Room 119 
Workshop: Music is Therapy
 Presenter: Jody Wilfong, M.M.,MT-BC,NMT
·Location: Room 118
Workshop: Autism Coming of Age and How to Plan for the Future
Presenter: MFP Special Care Planning Team and Premiere PBS Documentary
Workshops at 11 AM
·Location: Room 120
Workshop: How iPads Provide Opportunities to Learn, Play, and Socialize
Presenter: Shannon Des Roches Rosa, co-founder and editor of the book and blog project, “Thinking Person's Guide to Autism” and VIA Services
·Location: Room 119
Workshop: Warm Water Therapy to Benefit Disability Health Issues
Presenter: Jenna Pioli, Program Manager of Abilities United Aquatic Services
·Location: Room 118
Workshop: Autism Coming of Age and How to Plan for the Future
Presenter: MFP Special Care Planning Team and Premiere PBS Documentary

New Director and Associate Director at Via West Campus!!

Via Services is thrilled to announce that our very own Sandy Keefe has become Via Services' Associate Director as well as the Health Care Manager at Via West Campus!!   Sandy Keefe has been with Via Services for 10 years and has her Masters Degree in Rehabilitative Nursing.  Sandy also has a daughter who attends Via West Campus.  Sandy is a familiar face to all Via West parents, as she has been the Health Care Manager at Via West and actively involved in the care of all participants. She has already been instrumental in developing the programs for weekend respites, and has taken over staffing responsibilities (among other duties).  We are so happy that Sandy has taken on these responsibilities, and we look forward to a wonderful respite season.

Sandy Keefe, MSN, RN  Associate Director and Health Care Manager at Via West

Our new Director is Leslie Davis.  Leslie is originally from the San Jose area and has resided here her entire life.  She loves the area – the people, the weather, the spirit, etc.  Her undergraduate degree is from Santa Clara University in Spanish and History in the teacher waiver program.  She started her career in teaching – ESL, Spanish, and SPED.  She moved into counseling in the public and private sector doing job development for persons with disabilities.  Having worked with both adults and children with disabilities, she then returned to school to gain her Master’s Degree in Rehabilitative Counseling and Special Education from San Jose State University.   She opened her own practice following that and provided transition, social security disability, and workers compensation to adults with disabilities.  Feeling the need to get back to the young ones, she returned to the public sector and worked as a Special Education Manager for a growing group of charter schools.  These schools served minority children in grades K through 5.  She is quite happy with the fact that she was able to establish an inclusive program serving all children of all of needs in this highly academic charter school setting.  In all of her positions, she specialized in bringing social/life skills to all clients.  She is thrilled to now be with Via Services as her beliefs completely mirror the mission of the organization.  Leslie believes in lifelong learning for EVERYONE and feels that this position will allow her to serve both adults and children in the most beautiful setting.  She is a hands on manager and is very excited to lead Via West in its’ next phase.

Leslie Davis, Director of the Via West Campus