April 2019  
CORA Staff are The Difference!

Zeal is one of the four key values of the Sisters of Good Shepherd, the foundation of CORA. Zeal can be defined as an "eagerness and ardent pursuit of something". CORA's staff and volunteers live out the definition of zeal as they ardently pursue high quality programs, community events and services. Spring is now here. The birds are chirping, the temperature is rising and CORA's employees have more energy than ever, continually going above and beyond their daily responsibilities to contribute to the community. As we approach April, National Volunteer Month, it also brings me joy to see the many generous board members, committee members and volunteers who are willing to give of their time and talents to support our community. CORA is a unique agency defined by our dedication to serving families with unmet needs and our zealous team makes the difference!
I hope you were able to join us at CORA for our 2nd annual Seussville family engagement experience. It was wonderful to see our staff and volunteers come together to create an authentic event for the community, interact with our families outside of our usual programs and have a blast while doing so! A special thank you to everyone who contributed to making the event memorable for our children and families! Our next event will be our 11th annual golf outing at the Cricket Club. I hope to see you there!
Please consider making an annual gift to CORA in support of our extraordinarily hard working team that lives and breathes the Mission each day. Our agency was founded on a small grant, a little piece of land, and the idea that families shouldn't face challenges alone. CORA has grown since then, thanks to our hardworking team and your continued support. To charge forward another 48 years, with that same zeal and focus on Mission, we need you.  Click here to donate now and help CORA help kids.
Enjoy the great contributions from staff in this issue of the CORA Connection, where we highlight April as Autism Awareness and Alcohol Awareness month. Please do not hesitate to connect if you would like to be more involved with CORA or if we could be doing something better to help you or your family. 
AnnMarie Schultz, CEO & President

Supporting Students with Autism
Fostering Awareness and Acceptance

As education continues to evolve, an increasing number of classrooms are adopting an inclusive and integrated approach to supporting students. Educators and school communities are constantly adapting to support the unique needs of the children whom they serve. Within the ever-changing world of education, it is essential that students with autism are supported in their classroom environments. Students with autism present a diverse set of strengths and challenges that can impact their functioning in school. How can we best support these students so that they can not only succeed academically but thrive socially and emotionally in their school communities?

What is autism?
Autism is a neuro-developmental disorder that can cause social, communicative, and behavioral challenges. An estimated 1in 59 children are said to be identified with an autism spectrum disorder, with boys being 4 times more likely to receive a diagnosis. Autism is reported in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups (Center for Disease Control & Prevention, 2018).

What does autism look like?
Autism is characterized by two primary symptoms: persistent deficits in communication and social interaction and restricted and repetitive patterns of interests, behaviors, and activities (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Social and communication challenges can include difficulty understanding and expressing verbal and nonverbal communication, language delays or absence of spoken language, and difficulty understanding social cues (i.e., gestures, facial expressions, the tone of voice). Additionally, students with autism may exhibit difficulty recognizing and understanding emotions, expressing personal emotions, engaging in play, and participating in peer relationships. Restricted and repetitive behaviors include body movements or motions with objects, ritualistic behaviors (i.e., lining up objects), narrow or extreme interests in specific topics, or difficulty with transitions and/or resistance to change (Autism Speaks, 2019). Students with autism are very diverse; it is important to be mindful that behaviors and symptoms present differently from student to student.

This article was written by Kathleen Esposito, Ed.S., a PA Certified School Psychologist and graduate of Temple University. She works as a school psychologist in CORA's Nonpublic School Services Department. Prior to working at CORA Services, Kathleen supported students with autism in Philadelphia as an early intervention ABA Therapist. Additionally, Kathleen has experience working with students with autism and emotional disturbance teaching social-emotional learning, providing individual and group counseling, and conducting psycho-educational evaluations.
New Early Years Program will support Autism 

In January of 2020, CORA will be opening its third early childhood education  center! Early Years at Huntingdon Mills will be located in the Olde Richmond section of Philadelphia in zip code 19125. The new facility will accommodate about 130 children and will feature an inclusion model to accommodate children on the Autism spectrum. Early Years Huntingdon Mills will serve children ages 2-5, preparing kids for success in kindergarten and beyond.   

Both of our current programs, in Fox Chase and at La Salle University, are Keystone STAR 4 sites. Registration for the fall at these existing sites has begun. Click here to learn more. Spread the word to your family, friends and colleagues and encourage them to get their names on our Early Years Huntingdon Mills waiting list now!
Empathy and Autism
Is Empathy a Teachable Feeling?

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who shows the most empathy of all? For many of us, empathy is an intuitive reaction to someone else's emotional state. For example, when you watch your child playing in a soccer game, and they miss the winning shot, you automatically take on their feelings of disappointment and embarrassment. On the other hand, when your child scores the big goal to win the game, you naturally assume their feelings of excitement and happiness. But what is empathy? And why is the experience of empathy more accessible for some people than others?

The Greater Good Science Center at the University of California Berkeley describes two types of empathy. Affective empathy includes "the sensations and feelings we get in response to others' emotions," while cognitive empathy is akin to "perspective taking." Affective empathy is typically experienced from infancy, while cognitive empathy emerges between three to four years of age (Greater Good Science Center, 2019). While empathy allows us to very quickly understand another person's thoughts, feelings, and intentions (Winerman, 2005), that doesn't mean it is a simple process. In fact, Brené Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston, describes empathy as a vulnerable choice. She explains that in order to connect with someone else, you have to connect with something within yourself that knows the same feeling they are experiencing (Brown, 2019). And, this not necessarily an easy, or automatic, task. Read the entire article here.

Jessica  Listino , EdS, NCSP, BCBA, LBS, is a Nationally Certified School Psychologist, Board Certified Behavior Analyst, and Licensed Behavior Specialist. She works as a school psychologist in CORA's Nonpublic School Services department, providing psychoeducational assessment and intervention services. Jessica also works as a behavior analyst, specializing in the evaluation and treatment of children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Jessica is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in school psychology at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.
S eussville at CORA
2nd Annual Family Literacy Celebration

At least 300 guests visited CORA's conference center on Saturday, March 2, 2019, for the 2nd annual Seussville at CORA family engagement experience. It was a 3 hour celebration in honor of Dr. Seuss's birthday that featured arts and crafts, educational games, photos and story time with costume characters. Volunteers consisting of CORA's staff, neighbors, local organizations and students, ran the event. Proceeds from ticket sales will benefit CORA's ongoing work as a Resource Center for children and families. For more photos of the event, click here.

In conjunction with Seussville, CORA ran an art and creative writing contest for grade school students that yielded more than 500 entries! Children from all over the Philadelphia area submitted their creative drawing and writing pieces in competition for public recognition at the event and monetary prizes for the winners. Congratulations to the winners and thanks very much to all of the students who submitted their work to CORA! Click here to see winners of the contest. 

THANK YOU to ALL of our generous sponsors!
Ways to Relax Without Using Alcohol
Alcohol Awareness Month

April 2019 marks the 33rd anniversary of Alcohol Awareness Month, sponsored by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. Educating children and families about treatment and prevention of alcohol addiction is one of the main goals of the CORA Clinical Services Division at CORA. Alcohol is still the most commonly abused addictive substance in the United States, with stress representing the most cited reason for use. CORA Clinical Services Counselors suggest other ways of managing your stress without drinking. Below are some suggestions.

wire-bound-pad.jpg Writing in a journal allows you to freely express your thoughts and feelings without the fear of judgment. Take some time to write about the situations that are stressing you out. Putting things on paper might help you sort out what is causing you stress, and what you can do to alleviate it.

trio_fitness_crunches.jpg Studies show that exercise can stimulate and rebalance endorphins, the body's natural "feel good" chemicals that reduce pain and elevate mood. Regular exercise helps to regulate your mood in a healthy way. Most importantly, exercise feels good and releases the tension that you might be carrying after a stressful day.

Do things that bring you happiness.
planting_time.jpg Don't be afraid to allow yourself to enjoy life, even when things seem overwhelming. Maybe you enjoy gardening or reading a good book. Whatever it is, it is important to continue living your life amidst the stress of everyday life.  Also, spending time with the people you love the most can fill your brain with the positive chemicals it needs and reduce stress.

Mindful Meditation
spa_set_orchids.jpg Meditation forces you to focus all of your senses on the present moment. "Stay in the moment" is an old cliché, but a good one! Meditation has been linked to reductions in stress and anxiety as well as improvements in physical health. Next time you're feeling overwhelmed, try taking a few moments to focus on your breathing and become present at the moment. And if you need a little help (like me), try downloading an application on your phone like Insight Timer or Calm. 

Take care of yourself.
friends_socializing.jpg Next time you're feeling stressed, try making the commitment to treat yourself right, rather than finding temporary relief in a drink. A healthy diet, plenty of sleep and a good laugh can go a long way in relieving stress. This can also help you feel more refreshed and better equipped to manage stress as it comes.

CORA Clinical Services Division team members including Katie Cardone, Kara DeVoe, Kate Eingorn, Sharon Gratz and Sam Weidman collaborated on this article. 
YouthCOR Summer Safari Enrollment Open!

Dates: Monday, July 1 - Friday, August 9 
( Camp will be closed on July 4th and 5th.)

Times: 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Summer Camp Locations and Grade Levels
  • Loesche Elementary, K-5th
  • Pollock Elementary, K-6th
  • Spruance Elementary, K-8th
  • Thurgood Marshall, K-8th
  • Northwood Charter Academy, K-8th
Learn more about summer camps here. 
11th Annual CORA for Kids Golf Classic
April is Volunteer Appreciation Month! 

A little shopping can make a big difference!
Shop here and Amazonsmile will donate a percentage of your purchases to CORA! 
  • April 4th & April 5th - Early Years Grandparents/Special Friends Day 
  • April 9th - CORA's Annual Volunteer Appreciation Lunch 
  • April 12th - Professional Development for Educators click here
  • May 3rd - YOUTHCOR's Kids Night at CORA
  • May 7th - Texas Roadhouse CORA Night 

CORA Services
8540 Verree Road
Philadelphia, PA 19111

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A 19111