Locations LLC staff and family paint with purpose

Easter Seals Hawaii wishes to extend a HUGE mahalo to Locations LLC for its support of our mission to empower people with disabilities and special needs to achieve their goals and live independent fulfilling lives.

On Saturday, on May 14, 2016, 15 Locations LLC employees and family members, led by Easter Seals Hawaii board member Brian Stewart along with Locations partners, realtors and administrative team members came to the Easter Seals Hawaii Sultan School on Green Street to paint the walls within our keiki classrooms. Locations also committed the financial resources to facilitate replacement of the flooring and window coverings within our two classrooms.

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This complete makeover by Locations LLC was last done almost twenty years ago and was long overdue. Said Luke Kusumoto, Early Intervention program manager at the Sultan School, “I was truly touched to see so many volunteers with an interest in what we do, who worked so hard start to finish. We’ve been hoping for renovations like this for many years and are excited to reveal it to our families who will benefit from the refurbished rooms. What a nice additional surprise it will be for my staff!”

We commend and thank the professionals at Locations LLC for supporting our mission and those we serve!

Regards,

Ron Brandvold, President & CEO
Easter Seals Hawaii

Maile’s Dream Continues To Raise Awareness and Funds

 “Maile’s Dream”A CELEBRATION OF DIFFERENCES ANNUAL FAIR is a benefit for Easter Seals Hawaii and was held on March 5, 2016.  Today, a check presentation was held at Moanalua High School celebrating the event. $2,180.00 was raised this year for the Easter Seals Hawaii Early Intervention Program.

 

 

Fifteen years ago Washington Middle School adopted Maile’s Dream.  Maile was born with a very rare condition called Apert Syndrome, which is characterized by malformation of the skull, mid-face, hands and feet.  Maile has undergone numerous surgeries for her skull, ears, palate, fingers, toes and mid-face.  She’s currently an 8th grader at Kaimuki Christian School.

The objective of this Fair is to raise awareness and encourage acceptance of differences through activities and special entertainment. Maile’s mother, Cindy Ogata said, “Easter Seals’ Early Intervention Program was there to support us with physical, occupational, speech therapy and a gifted teacher to help with cognitive delays…our objective of the event is to raise awareness and encourage acceptance.”

 

 Now, Maile is a thriving and happy Freshman at Moanalua High School.  Cindy Ogata said that Maile was at first intimidated by starting at such a large school, but her ROTC advisors have also adopted “Maile’s Dream” and have encouraged her growth in High School every step of the way.  Today’s presentation was organized by her ROTC class advisors and she was joined by her classmates.

Proceeds raised through “Maile’s Dream” provides much-needed unrestricted support towards the operations of the Early Intervention Program.

If you would like to also support “Maile’s Dream” you can contact Luke Kusumoto, Sultan Program Manager at  (808) 529-1730 x1002, or email: LukeK@eastersealshawaii.org.

 

Autism Services: Katie Thomas’ Story

For Kathleen Thomas, nothing in the world is better than seeing her daughter, Katie, smile. Diagnosed with autism at a very early age it is imperative to Katie’s health and wellbeing that her life be as stable and consistent as possible, and Kathleen has dedicated her life to making this a reality. Fortunately for her Easter Seals Hawaii has been a true partner and a source of support for many years, and has been there to help her guide Katie through some of life’s greatest challenges.

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When Katie was in the third grade, she enrolled in the Pacific Autistic Center (PAC), where she thrived. A few years later the director of PAC sold the school to Easter Seals Hawaii. When Kathleen explained why it was so important to remain engaged with Easter Seals Hawaii, she said she knew Katie would move seamlessly into adulthood under the umbrella of this established organization. Kathleen said: “I know Katie will thrive here, and be loved, and be safe, and be a part of the community, and be valued, which is all that matters.”

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2014 was an emotionally difficult time for Kathleen and This was also an emotionally difficult time for the family. Katie’s father was diagnosed with cancer, and his greatest fear was for Katie and her future. Fortunately before he passed away, he was comforted in the knowledge that Easter Seals Hawaii’s trained staff would know exactly how to handle this emotional period of the passing of her father. To help her Easter Seals Hawaii therapists put together a photo book with photos of Katie’s father and their family, routinely walked her through what had occurred, and helped her understand why her father would not be returning home.

When Kathleen looks to the future for Katie, her dreams for her daughter are pure and simple. She noted, “I want Katie to be loved, to be valued, to have a purpose and a joy every day of her life. I want her to have a job, be happy, and be healthy. That is what I want, for Katie to have friends and a place that feels like home.”

Easter Seals Hawaii strives to make Kathleen’s dreams a reality for Katie.

Sean Tarrant, Director of the Easter Seals Hawaii Autism Center

Easter Seals Hawaii is very respectful to its tradition of providing a vast range of exceptional services for children and adults diagnosed with disabilities or special needs and their families. It is also committed to evolve and to be responsive to its participants and to the changing needs of the community, so when it recognized a growing need for autism services in Hawaii it took the initiative to expand and grow the program.

In June 2013, Easter Seals Hawaii hired several new full time staff members who brought with them decades of experience in diagnostic and assessment services, in developing effective treatment plans and communication, and, perhaps most importantly, family member support, education, and training. Easter Seals Hawaii was very fortunate to hire Sean Tarrant as its director of autism services.

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Sean has worked for over 15 years within the field of developmental disabilities and applied behavior analysis (ABA), a scientifically validated approach to understanding behavior and how it is affected by the environment. While still pursuing his undergraduate degree in psychology in 1999, Sean began working in the field of ABA as a behavior therapist for adolescents and adults with severe problem behaviors. Since then, he has worked in multiple areas within the field of developmental disabilities and ABA including in-home therapy and parent training, consultation with public and charter schools, residential and center based therapy, and the ethical reduction of severe problem behaviors. Over the years, Sean has come to realize that one of the most important things a parent can do to achieve positive changes in behavior is to increase the level of communication with their child.

Many individuals diagnosed with autism are unable to communicate, which leads to challenging behavior. According to Sean, being able to ask your child what they want and how they feel, and know that they are able to tell you this is incredibly important.
The Easter Seals Hawaii Autism Center is committed to focusing on increasing the
level of communication and also utilizing the many techniques available for increasing functional behaviors and reducing those that may cause harm or interfere with learning. It provides complete and coordinated care throughout a child’s life to bring about meaningful and positive change in behavior, and empower the individual to realize
his/her full potential.

Dennis Maher’s Unbreakable Commitment

Dennis C. Maher has spent an entire lifetime living with a family member with an intellectual disability. His brother, now 41, has Down syndrome, cannot speak, and is legally deaf and blind. His son, 12, has autism. Many people would find a reason to complain, but what truly sets Dennis apart is his unbreakable commitment to his family, his community, and everyone with a disability.

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Dennis is the director of facilities and security at Trump International Hotel Waikiki Beach Walk, and one of his responsibilities is looking for ways to improve and streamline the day-to-day operations. The hotel has a green program focused on recycling, and he realized that finding a charity to benefit from the 5c recyclables would be a win-win for both the hotel and the charity – it would save the hotel valuable resources if another entity took over the program, and the charity would benefit from the regular revenue stream. Since his brother had been engaged with Easter Seals Hawaii for many years he made one phone call which, as it turned out, was all he needed to do to start the program which now provides many recipients the opportunity to be employed and engaged with the community.

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Working closely with representatives from Easter Seals Hawaii he has grown the program to extend far beyond the Trump Hotel and include other condos in the area. For Dennis, his passion and devotion to assisting people with intellectual disabilities has been a lifelong commitment. When he was in high school he worked in a summer camp for people with disabilities. Now, in addition to being engaged with Easter Seals Hawaii, he was a coach for several sports through Special Olympics and is also on the board of Autism Hawaii. As with many true heroes he sees the best in others, and is the first to give the credit to other people he has known who also give their time freely. He noted, “I have a child with a disability, I have a brother with a disability. I have a reason to do this. That is where it comes from. I give a lot more credit to those without a family member with a disability, those are the real heroes. The real heroes are the people that do not have a reason other than a big heart. I give them a heck of a lot more credit than I give myself.”

Santa’s New Sled – A United Airlines Jet!

Santa came to town in a BIG jet, thanks to United Airlines who threw a festive and exciting holiday party for 25 of our youth participants and their parents.photo1        photo

Presents were placed under the tree with care – something unique and personalized for each child, in the United Airlines Hanger off of Lagoon Dr.  Each child was given a passport to have stamped at activity stations as they travelled through the hanger decorated for the holidays with a North Pole, Frozen theme.  Coloring, puzzle books, ornament making/crafts, and a photo booth to take pictures with Santa rounded out the festivities.

Elsa from Frozen and several elves/ helpers joined the party, and ukulele notes rose through the air in this “only in Hawaii” experience!

The big surprise of the morning was Santa arriving on a huge Airliner that drove up to the hanger. Excitement built as the kids heard the plane getting closer and then the hanger doors opened to reveal the plane and Santa exiting the cockpit!

After each child visited with Santa they were given lunch and beverages and a large gift bag with several presents inside. United Airlines employees selected and purchased individual, personalized gifts for each child according to their age and interests!

Our kids loved Santa and the plane and the parents were all very thankful for the personalized touches and all the hard work United Airlines put into the party!  This was an event to remember!

Maile Ogata raises $3,660 for Easter Seals Hawaii

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Easter Seals Hawaii presented Maile Ogata with the Dwane Brenneman Humanitarian Award.

The 10th Annual Maile’s Dream family fun event raised $3,660.00 for Easter Seals Hawaii on March 8th at Washington Middle School. The event featured live entertainment, games, crafts, activities and a silent auction to benefit the East Sultan Early Intervention Program for Easter Seals Hawaii (ESH). Coordinated by students and faculty at Washington Middle School, the event encourages children and individuals of all ages to accept those who are different and to celebrate those differences with one another.

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Maile poses with her award with students and faculty from Washington Middle School and staff from Easter Seals Hawaii.

The awareness fair also honored its young founder, 14-year-old Maile Ogata, who started the event ten years ago as a way to encourage acceptance amongst young children, youth and adults. Maile was born with Apert’s syndrome, a genetic disorder that can lead to facial and limb anomalies. It was “Maile’s Dream” to teach acceptance of those who are different while giving back to a program at Easter Seals Hawaii that has helped her when she was younger. Maile’s mother, Cindy Ogata, said, “Easter Seals’ Early Intervention Program was there to support us with physical, occupational, speech therapy and a gifted teacher to help with cognitive delays…our objective of the event is to raise awareness and encourage acceptance.”

Maile performed a song she wrote called “I am a child,” moments before she was presented with an award from ESH’s President & CEO Christopher E. Blanchard. “It impresses me how much Maile, at 14-years-old, has done for Hawaii’s children and adults with developmental disabilities or special needs in the last ten years. Since she started her event, she raised more than $30,000 for Easter Seals Hawaii. She set a terrific example for the Washington Middle School students who have taken up her cause. We encourage others to recognize the impact Maile and the WMS students have had on our organization and the community.”

MD2Maile and her mom Cindy with East Sultan EI Program Manager Dawn Williams, Sultan EI Program Manager Luke Kusumoto, President & CEO Chris Blanchard and VP of Development Iwalani Dayton. 

Mahalo Maile!