April 2019

          A LABBB Collaborative        Newsletter
   Sharing best practices for promoting inclusive opportunities         for  students with special needs 
LABBB Disney 2019
In This Issue
Message from the Executive Director
Patric Barbieri
One Step Closer to Independence

We have been making the most of our Woodland house. Our students are using it every weekday to learn the skills they need to live independently. We have been holding weekend overnights for current LABBB students and alumni, and we have been holding recreational activities on Tuesday evenings for our alumni. On Tuesdays nights alumni get together to make dinner, watch a movie or just hang out in the house as a social get together.

We want everyone to have the opportunity to take full advantage of the experience at Woodland can teach. Learning to live and function independently is not just about the skills of cooking, laundry, and making beds, it is also about socializing and emotions. A student may have all the skills to live independently but is just not ready emotionally to stay overnight even many years after graduating. 

Just being in the house and getting comfortable with the surroundings is a pre-requisite step for many of our students. They can't picture themselves sleeping in a strange place, but if they are able to feel comfortable with Woodland, perhaps this will lead them to eventually trying an overnight weekend. 

When a students is starting talk about staying overnight or going on one of LABBB's over night trips, significant progress is being made in building confidence and they are moving towards independence. We hope our future alumni parents comment that it was the opportunities to learn skills and confront emotions through experiences at Woodland that led their son or daughter to being successful in an independent living situation.  

This is a very similar experience to the ICEI program. Many students who want to experience college have an opportunity to do this with the support of an educational coach. This is the only program that allows an educational coach to be in the classroom with a student. Many students would not have been able to experience a college setting without this support. 

Our alumni parents whose son or daughter is attending recreational activities in the evening, never pictured themselves living on their own until recently. Our alumni are doing everything they would be doing in a group home environment except for living in the house full time...and that may be the next step!

P atric
Clinical Corner: Kick the Springtime Blues!
By: Cori Purcell
Spring has officially sprung! The snow is melting, the sun is shining, and the weather is FINALLY starting to warm up. Though this time of year can be exciting and pleasant for some, there are many people who experience an increase in mental health issues in springtime. Research indicates this increase could be due to symptoms related to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), seasonal pollen allergies, and changes in an individual's biological clock.
Some common signs to look for:
  • High level anxiety
  • Sleeplessness
  • Exhaustion
  • Agitation
  • Change in energy level
  • Change in appetite
Some activities that can help:
  • Physical exercise
  • Connecting with friends and family
  • Volunteering/helping others
  • Spending time outside
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Eating healthy foods    
If you or someone you know is experiencing any of the aforementioned symptoms, consider talking to your doctor or a mental health professional. Help is available!
For more information:

Landau, Elizabeth. " Sad In The Spring? Allergy-mood Link Is Real." CNN.

Little Leprechauns and Sensory Shamrocks
By: Rachele Leonardo

Ms. Bennett's class had a great time in motor group during St. Patrick's Day week. We did a bunch of motor activities including balancing like a pot of gold, sliding (scootering) down the rainbow, searching for 4-leaf clovers, and of course, rolling like a potato. We also got to use our tactile and visual senses to check out festive green materials, such as beads, light up shamrocks, and feather boas. Happy St. Patrick's Day!  

LABBB Burlington High - March Madness!
By: David Dooks
Here at LABBB Burlington @ Burlington High School, we have been in the grips of our very own March Madness!  Jared Sakey, Adam Kettani, Peter Caruso, Adam Matos, and Zachary Myers have all been involved with the LABBB Basketball program.  Throughout the month of March, these athletes have been playing weekly games culminating with the A team participating in a tournament at UMass Lowell Tournament.   The Greater Boston Basketball League, of which LABBB is a part, is an organization consisting of 20 alternative schools located in the Greater Boston area. The GBBL has been around for 30 years.  This year the A team had a 3-5 record, and in the tournament got to the second round before losing by a mere 5 points. The A team came home with a trophy from the tournament which will be shared between the players on the team similar to the way the Stanley Cup is shared amongst the champion NHL team. The B team had an 0-6 record, and the C team had a similar season to the B team, but in the words of Zach Myers, "It didn't matter that we lost, we had a great time playing and that's what counts!"  We are all very proud of our Basketball teams and glad that they had a great time playing!

Ottoson Goes Shopping
By: Rose Farrell
This month we have been practicing our community based skills here at Ottoson Middle School. Along with our speech therapist, Janet Sullivan, we took a trip to Stop & Shop with a list of items we needed for the classroom and to take home. We used our communication systems to say what we needed and practiced pushing the carts. We found the items from our list and put them in the cart, and then practiced handing money to the cashier. Our shopping trip was a big success! We will continue to work on our community based skills in a variety of environments. Happy Spring!
LABBB Grad Spotlight!
By: Amanda O'Leary - Transition Department
Ben is a friendly, charismatic, easy going, caring young man who was part of the LABBB program at Lexington High School for four years. He started at LABBB in 2014 and graduated last year, in 2018.
Ben started his career with the Transition Department (formerly the vocational department) and within a few months, began building his resume. Some of his community experiences included volunteering in a cat shelter, facing shelves and bagging at a local farm stand, data entry at Lahey Clinic, training in the kitchen and copy center at Minuteman Technical High School, and customer service at CVS. In his last year at LABBB, Ben also participated in a LABBB supported group community experience at Corporate Chefs, where he learned how to prepare a number of different foods, work on his knife skills, and run the dishwasher.
At the same time that Ben was preparing to graduate and leave LABBB, so was one of his best friends, Omar. Omar's family was able to fulfill one of Omar's dreams, which was to own a comic book store. Omar's World of Comics and Hobbies opened up in the winter of 2018 and offered group supported internship opportunities for LABBB students. Ben was beyond excited to have this opportunity to be able to work with his close friend in a warm and welcoming environment, which also had the extra cool factor of selling items such as comic books, games, and all things superhero!
Fast forward to spring of 2018 and Ben's final days at LABBB. Working with his adult agency, Minuteman ARC and LABBB, Ben was hired by Omar's for a paid position one day per week. Over this past summer, Ben also began working in a paid position, two days per week at Flatbread, in their dish room. In speaking with Ben about his LABBB experience and how it prepared him for his life after LABBB, Ben credits his teachers and LABBB staff with helping him become more flexible. He remembers that he did not really want to try some of those previously mentioned community experiences, but understands now that the variety of experiences have made him into "the Ben of today! The Ben of four years ago was never this flexible and willing to try new things!"
Ben now works three days per week and participates in other community based day support (CBDS) activities that Minuteman ARC supports. Through his work at Omar's, he continues to have a connection to LABBB, for which we are all grateful  and are always excited to hear about his success!

LABBB Interns at Bedford High School
By: Susan Good
Special Education is certainly just that! Every day is special, and if you are fortunate enough to teach this amazing population, you are in the company of the most special people around. This is not because of their unique challenges and disabilities, but because of those challenges and disabilities it makes the students the most extraordinary people to know, to teach, and to care for day in and day out. Everyone has his or her own personality, but within moments, just like with typical children, they grow to become not just classmates, peers, or friends, but they become close family style friends. 

One of the unique opportunities established by the Bedford High School administration, besides having two LABBB classrooms in a public school setting, is that they provide an internship course for students to earn credits while engaging in hands on weekly experiences with our LABBB students. Any grade level student can earn credits for participating in the internship course that involves learning about and teaching their peers with disabilities. It is an incredible opportunity and partnership for all involved.
There are many different reasons why students intern in our LABBB classrooms. Many students will sign up because it was recommended by an advisor. Other students might choose to sign up because they have a sibling or a relative with special needs, so they possess a comfort zone with this course. There are students that have little to no experience at all with individuals with special needs, but have been influenced by a peer, sister, brother, or a close friend who has previously participated in the internship experience. 
In the four years that I have been teaching at LABBB Bedford, I have seen as many cohorts go through. The different years have offered a variety of people from many different backgrounds, cultures, and with different expectations of what they hope to gain from the course. What we do know is that all the interns, whether extremely ambitious and experienced, whether naive with no exposure, or one just looking to fill a course requirement, all the interns make some sort of positive impact on our students. Nonetheless, interns undoubtedly realize not too long after getting to know our students, they reach a comfort level and our students in turn make a serendipitous impact on the interns' life too. It might be something as simple as befriending a student they never imagined feeling a commitment to or something as powerful as causing a student to want to study special education when they go to college.
In the fast paced life at LABBB, along with the formative years as a high school student, one of the greatest gifts I have witnessed as a teacher is the relationships that develop between typical high school students and the most extraordinarily special students anyone would be privileged and honored to have the opportunity to know, our LABBB students.

Having a break together
Having a break together
Students navigating through the community
Students navigating through the community
Working on Vocabulary
Working on Vocabulary
Receiving MCAS tutoring from Interns
Receiving MCAS tutoring from Interns
Receiving academic support
Receiving academic support

Here are some excerpts from our 2018-2019 Bedford High Interns:

~Eden Harfield, Junior - "Being a part of the LABBB program has been a great experience. I love learning more about the students and how truly intelligent they are. It's the coolest feeling when they fully comprehend something new that they haven't thought of or understood before. It's the coolest feeling when they fully comprehend something new that they haven't thought of or understood before. It's been so inspiring to me as I've watched them grow academically and as individuals this year. It has definitely opened my eyes to how incredible this community is, and has made me feel more eager to befriend and learn more about students with disabilities."
~Ryan Lobo, Senior - "Being a LABBB intern is a very rewarding experience. Seeing how happy and excited the students are to learn never failed to make me smile. Getting to know each student, from their interests to hobbies, and working with them in an academic setting has taught me a great deal about patience, communication, and the importance of working together."
~Ryan Richard, Senior - "Being an intern at LABBB BHS has taught me that a little bit of patience can go a long way in making someone's day special. Realizing this has allowed me to be kind to everyone and feel good about myself. Overall, interning at LABBB has been a rewarding and confidence boosting experience."
~Morgan Anderson, Senior - "My first day I will never forget because we sang Sweet Caroline and all of the students were so friendly and welcoming to me. Next Year I will be pursuing a major in special education and coming back to visit the friends I've made in LABBB."
~Morgan Louis, Senior - "I've been interning for 2 years now. And I've really enjoyed being able to do this. It's helped me to grow some and understand more about the lives of these kids. My favorite part of coming to class is being able to talk to the kids and getting to know them. They each have such different personalities and I love being able to be a small part of their lives."
~Ameilia Leida, Junior - "I love working with the LABBB students, they are so nice and fun to be around...I love when they say hi to me in the hallways. I really like working with kids in general and I have never really seen what special education was like, but maybe I will go into some field related to special ed someday. "
~Annie Williams , Junior- "This was my first year doing LABBB as an elective. At the beginning of the year, I wasn't really sure what to expect...I think the kids have taught me what true friendship is like, due to the interactions among themselves."
~Liza Shestoperora, Junior - "Being a part of the LABBB program has brought me new friends, experiences and understanding that I wouldn't have had otherwise. Being able to connect with the kids here and then bump into them outside of school gives me such a comforting feeling."
~Araz Dulgarian, Junior  -"This is my first year as a LABBB intern and it is by far the best part of my school day! The students are so kind, funny, and smart and I have loved helping in their classrooms watching them learn...In addition, I had met and worked with some of the LABBB students in middle school and I had loved spending time with them! I am so thankful for the opportunity to work with these amazing students because I have learned so much!  I definitely plan on interning again next year! "
Thank you to all our LABBB interns who make a difference in our students lives each and everyday  

LABBB Glow Golf Fundraiser 
April 25 @ 7:00pm

2019 LABBB Transition Fair

Recreation News and Events
By:  Paula Rizzo, Integration and Recreation Coordinator

The LABBB Basketball Team A won Runner Up at the GBBL Tournament this year. They celebrated the season with Teams B and C at a banquet luncheon at Via Lago's. 


Our annual Disney trip was a great success. Of the 21 students that joined us this year, nine will graduate - this was their last trip to Disney with LABBB. They will be missed next year. Even though the weather was cool, we had a great time meeting new friends, having fun in the parks, swimming, and much more. We visited Animal Kingdom and had dinner at Rain Forest Café our first day. We went to Magic Kingdom on Wednesday (a crowd favorite) and had dinner at Whispering Canyon in Wilderness Lodge. Thursday we headed to Hollywood Studios followed by dinner on the Fantasmic Theater patio. The patio provided a great view of the show after dinner. Our last park day was spent at EPCOT where we enjoyed a special dinner at the Under the Seas Pavilion. Three large windows provided views of the fish tank which made us feel we were truly under the sea. See photos of our trip below.

Tuesday and Thursday bowling groups have started again, along with Wednesday Recreation.
Special Olympics will be held on May 1. All athlete registrations should have been done online by April 1st. This year's shirts for the volunteers are pink and shirts for the athletes are aqua. Shirts and draw string packs will go home with the registered students after April vacation.

Upcoming Fundraisers for LABBB:

  • Night Glow Golfing. April 25th, Stone Meadow in Lexington, MA for LABBB parents and staff. We look forward to seeing parents/family/friends at our annual Glow Golf Fundraiser. This is an event for the adults to have some fun in the dark, on April 25th.
  • Lucky 13 Fitness in Burlington has teamed up for a Saturday workout on May 11, for LABBB families and staff. Flyers with more information will be sent in the mail for anyone interested in participating in these events.  Spaces will go quickly.  


A LABBB Podcast

In this episode, I interviewed Kathy Murphy. She talks candidly about her life growing up with dyslexia and her mindset of overcoming an obstacle through determination and grit. She didn't know she had dyslexia until she was 21 years old. You will find her story inspiring. It will also give you a different way to look at obstacles that are thrown at us in life. We also talk about identifying our strengths and focusing our attention on what we are good at rather than trying to spend most of our time trying to fix our weaknesses.

Kathy Murphy's Bio: Market Me Too Founder and CEO/CMO, Kathleen E. Murphy is known for radiating enthusiasm, her strategic outlook and positive attitude and energy. Her entrepreneurial and marketing career has spanned over (20) years and has been focused on technology and start-up companies in a variety of industries. She is well-regarded for her extensive global marketing leadership and partnership marketing acumen and has been sought after for her innovative, collaborative and strategic thinking style by companies such as Barracuda Networks, Constant Contact, Dell/EMC, Hitachi, Staples as well as a number of mid-size companies.

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