ESH participants get exclusive pontoon ride to Kaneohe Bay

One of Easter Seals Hawaii’s (ESH) goals is not only to give our participants the same opportunities as their peers, but also unique opportunities that others do not have…especially when it comes to some serious fun in the sun.

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ESH Youth Services participant Chaz and Activities Coordinator Ashley Zywiec enjoy their special outing to the Kaneohe sandbar.

A pontoon ride out to the beautiful Kaneohe Bay sandbar is not something that many locals on Oahu get to enjoy. It requires a military ID and access to a boat. But thanks to three captains, a dozen of the ESH Youth Services (YS) participants were treated to an experience they will never forget.

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ESH Youth Services participants and staff couldn’t wait to begin their new adventure!

The three captains that made the outing possible were the United States Marine Corps military judge (in Hawaii) Colonel Jim Carberry, retired U.S. Coast Guard Officer Bob Barr and ESH President & CEO Christopher Blanchard, who is a retired Colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps.

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ESH Youth Services participant Gabriel takes over the pontoon with Mr. Barr.

The participants met them at the Marine Corps Base Marina and they each were given the opportunity to drive the boat to the sandbar. “It was a great experience. I loved the way Chris treated them like they were the most important people. He let them drive the boat. It helped to have three great captains that put our participants first,” said ESH YS Cooking Teacher Annie Boe.

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The three captains also provided a floating wheelchair for one participant to join the group in the water.

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ESH Youth Services participant Michael steers the boat towards the sandbar.

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After taking turns driving, the participants arrived at the beautiful sand bar to have a snack and swim.

ESH YS Program Aid Krista Venegas said, “It was fun. It was a unique experience for me and the participants. The weather was nice all day, it didn’t rain at all.”

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All of the participants fell in love with Mr. Barr’s puppy, Shy Boy, who is considered the marina’s mascot.

ESH Youth Services Manager, Jennifer Norton said the outing was unlike any other that they have done with participants. “We don’t usually get to do such elaborate outings. It’s my favorite place to go with friends. To go with our participants wasn’t just an outing that we do here at Youth Services, it was an experience they will remember.”

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6-year-old participant Luke (pictured above with ESH YS Manager Jennifer Norton) described his experience with a big, wide smile, “Splash on my hair. Friends. Big fish. Puppy on the boat.”

The three captains also hosted a second day out at the Kaneohe sandbar for three ESH adult participants the week after. 

ESH Kauai says MAHALO to all who supported their annual Golf Tournament

2013 ESHKAUAIGOLF MAHALO AD

More coverage on ESH Kauai’s 29th Annual Golf Tournament:

Drop the golf ball to gamble – The Garden Island

Tiarre Horner going to Vegas by helping Easter Seals Hawaii – The Garden Island

Happy Camper for Wednesday – The Garden Island

 

 

Aloha from “Kahiau” – Waimea Service Center

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Participants at Kahiau made these gifts for their visitors.

On Thursday, June 19th, 2013, Easter Seals Hawaii (ESH) in Waimea, Kauai hosted three special visitors at their newly renovated Kahiau location. The visitors were Stephanie Kaimana On from the Oahu U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Kerrilyn Barros and Sharon Woodward both from the Kauai County Housing Agency.

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Participants greeted their visitors with these beautiful lei they had made themselves.

The visitors were warmly greeted by smiling participants and lei that they had made themselves. On, Barros and Woodward were then guided by ESH Kauai participant Donna Pancho. With a lot of practice and support, Donna gave them a tour of all the rooms in Kahiau including the recent accessibility improvements such as braille signage, curb cuts and the new ramp, all of which were made possible with a Community Development Block Grant from the Kauai County Housing Agency.

KAUAI HUD3Stephanie Kaimana On, Kerrilyn Barros and Sharon Woodward pose with ESH Kauai participant Donna Pancho on the new wheelchair access ramp at Kahiau. 

By the end of the tour, Donna had worked off her nervousness and was complimented by the group as the best tour guide!  As the group was leaving, Donna presented them with a little gift to remember them by, some of the delicious cookies made by the gang at Kahiau! Donna said, “I think they were happy with the building and what we do here at Kahiau.  I also thanked them for visiting and invited them to visit us when they are in Waimea.”

ESH Maui participants enjoy adaptive kayaking

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ESH Maui participants paddle through Olowalu.

What better way to enjoy the summer with some sun and paddling? Several of our Easter Seals Hawaii participants in Maui attended an adaptive kayak event last Friday, which was sponsored by Maui’s Department of Parks and Recreation.

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ESH Maui participant Chris is an avid swimmer, but kayaking is a completely new experience for him.

One excited participant, Chris, who is in his mid-20’s, had a blast paddling through beautiful Olowalu. ESH staff member, Veronica encouraged and initiated this fun opportunity for Chris and his fellow participants. His mother, Ruka, said, “I am so proud and happy for what he did and want to share with everybody! Veronica and I hugged and later on, I was almost in tears in happiness. Little things make me happy and the big guy, Chris, tried something new.”

ESH Maui County Manager Roxann Kehus was delighted to hear that participants can take part in water sports during the summer. She said, “I saw a video of Chris using the kayak paddle to power himself across the water. He really seemed to be enjoying himself.” Roxann also added that similar activities like kayaking experience adds some recreation to the adult programs they offer. “While safety is extremely important, it is also very important to look at activities like this with a mindset of ‘how to make it work’ so people can participate. We always want to look at what people can do.”

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Kayak program staff and ESH staff assist participants with securing themselves on the kayaks.

This particular adaptive kayaking program was launched in 2009 and is geared towards children and young adults with disabilities. The Department of Parks and Recreation offers this program to give youth a chance to take part in therapeutic ocean sports. The program provides kayaks, life vests, glove-adapted paddles, specialized straps, side stabilizers and more.

The next adventure for Chris and other participants will be adaptive canoeing. Stay tuned!

Take me out to the ball game!

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ESH Maui beat the competition with some creative poses and the BEST dressed players. Watch out next time, Maui!  

The staff at Easter Seals Hawaii all have BASEBALL FEVER! Kaydee Johannsen from the Human Resources department came up with an idea for an employee fundraiser. Once a month, each ESH employee that donates $5 gets to dress up according to a monthly theme. June’s theme was A Day at the Park, which was perfect since our Youth Services on Green Street practice their swings while locking down the proper baseball lingo.

BASEBALL3We’ve got Cassie and Cheryl from our East Sultan Early Intervention Program all decked out in baseball hats and representing their fave teams! 

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Green Street was represented by our President & CEO Christopher E. Blanchard, Admin, Human Resources and Development! 

Lastly, we’d like to thank all of our fellow employees who participated in this employee FUNdraiser. We hope our small fundraiser inspires you to make a difference and change a life with Aloha. Every bit counts toward better programs, services and opportunities for our participants.

A bittersweet, yet rewarding send-off to ESH Early Intervention participants

At Easter Seals Hawaii (ESH), there is nothing more rewarding than seeing a participant transition into the next big stage of their lives. This milestone is called the Early Intervention Graduation Ceremony. While the Keiki may have had developmental delays, many of them are entering preschool with the skills and tools they need to succeed.

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Amanda Buehrig and her husband Greg Kupsky celebrate their three-year-old son, Sam’s, graduation from the Easter Seals Hawaii Sultan Early Intervention Program.

For mother Amanda Buehrig, her three-year-old son, Sam, an ESH early intervention participant, has accomplished much more than she expected. “We came to Easter Seals Hawaii not knowing what to do,” she said. Buehrig explained that the staff at ESH Sultan Early Intervention Program supported her and her husband in helping Sam overcome many obstacles. “I didn’t know anybody when we moved to the island and Sam has really grown with the program.” Amanda and her husband Greg Kupsky were excited when they realized that Sam was ready for preschool, but the graduation, she said, is bittersweet. “It’s like saying goodbye to family. The ESH staff has made such a huge impact on my family.”

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Sam’s mother, Amanda Buehrig, thanks all of ESH staff for their support throughout the years.

ESH Social Worker, Jenai Hermosura, was the one who supported Sam and his parents throughout the last two and a half years. She said, “Sam has been with us since he was six months old. He pretty much had all the services that we offer. And now, he is talking, progressing his motor skills and beyond. He is definitely on his way to bigger and better things. In the beginning, mom and dad were so cooperative and they took all of our suggestions and strategies, they really helped him through it all. I really commend them for all their hard work and you can see that in their son’s development. He’s such a sweet little boy. We’re gonna miss him.”

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ESH graduating participant Devynn McAdams and her mom enjoy the ceremony and meeting other families.

Amanda, Greg and their son Sam were among 35 other families that celebrated their Keiki’s accomplishments. ESH Early Intervention Director Charlene Robles expressed such pride in her staff and said, “It’s like a reinforcement of what we do in addition to celebrating the children and their accomplishments. Parents come in not knowing what to do or expect. This graduation is a significant milestone for them and a reward for us.”

DSC_0733ESH Speech and Language Pathologist Rosemarie Tom embraces participants and family members after presenting them with their diplomas.

Jenai Hermosura expressed the same sense of reward, “This graduation was very touching. This is what I love doing and this is why I work here. Meeting the people and families like them, it makes our job easy but it also makes it fulfilling as well.”

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Kaia Maloian walks up with her mother to receive her diploma and some materials she can use for school.

The graduation was a first for Care Coordinator Lahela Nishigaya-Rice, who has been working at ESH since October of 2012. She said, “A lot of the participants that I work with have graduated today. I actually took over from another Care Coordinator. It’s been really great building those bonds and working with them even if it was for a short time. It’s really rewarding to see them move on to preschool and the community.”

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The Kawakani family celebrate their daughter Mia’s graduation.

ESH Board Chair, Dick Sears, also attended the graduation ceremony. He said, “It’s inspirational. Seeing the progress of these young men and women is inspirational. They are the strength of our country. Also, it’s always fun.”

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The ESH Sultan Early Intervention Program staff is made up of therapists, educators, care coordinators, social workers and many more that dedicate their time to working with children with disabilities or developmental delays and their parents. 

Easter Seals Hawaii provides state-wide Early Intervention services and programs. Starting in 1946, Hawaii offered the first Early Intervention program in the nation and has since served as a national model for Early Intervention. For more information about the ESH Early Intervention Programs, visit eastersealshawaii.org

 

An unforgettable May Day celebration

On Wednesday, May 22nd, the Honolulu Service Center Adult Day Health held their May Day celebration featuring a heartfelt ceremony, fun performances and ono Hawaiian food. Participants represented each of the Hawaiian Islands with their respective colors. Emcee Bubbles introduced each participant in the May Day court, humorously entertaining the crowd with facts about each island, quizzing participants on Hawaii trivia and giving out gifts for the mothers that have helped the program set up for such a memorable May Day celebration. Take a look at the sweet moments we caught on camera:

MAYDAY1ESH Participant Peter Quintanilla walked in with style! Representing the garden isle of Kauai, he strutted his way down the aisle.

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Peter and sidekick Daniel Bacon (also an ESH participant) make an entertaining duo as part of the May Day court.

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ESH participant Grace Caraang proudly represented the island of Moloka’i. 

MAYDAY5The audience was delighted to see the beautiful and confident entrance and introduction of the May Day Queen Jaimie Palting.

MAYDAY6The May Day King and Queen shared many touching moments.

The big moment for the participants was the announcement of the king and queen of the May Day court. King Bennett Yoshioka and Queen Jaimie captured the attention of everyone in the room with their royal introductions and entrance. Queen Jaimie proudly waved to the audience and her May Day court. King Bennett beamed at her bright smile as they held hands.

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The May Day King and Queen held hands during their dance.

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ESH participant Katie O’Brien graced the May Day court and audience with her beautiful hula performance.

The ESH Honolulu Service Center Adult Day Health program did an excellent job in putting on a beautiful and meaningful May Day celebration for the participants and their ohana. It taught them and the attendees more about May Day as Lei Day and its importance in the Hawaiian culture.