Sharing best practices and promoting inclusive opportunities for students with special needs    
Executive Director's Message

Calling all LABBB Alumni!

The pandemic has not stopped us from trying to connect as many LABBB alumni as possible to join our Zoom reunion dances. Our reunion dances are so well attended and bring together both current LABBB Students and LABBB Graduates. We cannot wait until we can all get together in person again.

Historically, we have held one reunion dance a year in September. We all looked forward for that evening to spend time with our community members.

We had so many requests over the years to add another reunion dance and we responded by holding a Spring Reunion dance which started a few years ago. Last Spring we held our reunion dance in-person just before the pandemic shut everything down. This year, unfortunately, we will not be able to hold our spring reunion dance in person, but we will still on hold it virtually on Friday, March 19 at 6:30pm. Just being there to see one another is important and we hope you can join us.

We also ask that if you know any LABBBB alumni that have not been receiving our invitations that you please pass this on to them. We have been updating our database every year and want to make sure to include everyone!

Clinical Corner: Making Time for Self-Care
By: Cori Purcell

Rather than sending all of your love outward this month, I encourage you to reflect on self-care and self-love. We are constantly bombarded in the media with self-care tips, but what does it actually mean and who has time for that? 

What is self-care? According to Raphaila (2016), self-care is any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health. Although it’s a simple concept, in theory, it’s something we very often overlook. Good self-care is key to improved mood and reduced anxiety. It’s also key to a good relationship with oneself and others.

Self-care does not necessarily mean a 45-minute yoga class; it could simply be a hot mug of tea in the morning or turning off all electronics for 10 minutes to focus on deep breathing. In order for self-care practices to be sustainable and effective, they must be enjoyable activities we can strive to incorporate into our daily lives.  

Before considering which self-care practices you wish to include in your life, I invite you to reflect on the questions below:

  • When do you feel your best? Consider the time of day, season, company, things you have eaten, places you are, everything you can think of and be as specific as you can.

  • What are warning signs or symptoms that you are becoming imbalanced, burnt out, and/or sick? What are some signs (warnings) or symptoms (impacts) in your life that you notice occur when you are starting to become or are neglectful of yourself?

  • How are you feeling right now? How does this possibly compare to the past 24-48 hours? Does anything lead to changes in your physical, mental, sense, and/or soul space?
Self-care looks different for each of us, as we are all unique individuals. Below are some examples that might sound interesting to you: 

  • Take a hot shower or a warm bath.
  • Cuddle with a pet.
  • Pay attention to your breathing.
  • Burn a scented candle.
  • Listen to music.
  • Watch a movie.
  • Make art. Do a craft project.
  • Journal.
  • Clean out a junk drawer or a closet.
  • Go for a walk.
  • Dance.
  • Stretch.

Reference List:

Markway, Barbara. (2014). Seven Types of Self-Care Activities for Coping with Stress. Psychology Today.

Raphaila, Michael. (2016, August 10). What Self-Care Is – and What It Isn’t. PsychCentral.
The Art of Curiosity
By: Donna Goodell 

A small child shouts with amazement and curiosity in a crowded grocery store as he sees something he has never seen before. “Mom, look, that man has no legs!! What happened to his legs?” Then you hear the child’s mother shush him, “Shhhh, son, that is not polite.” Children have a wonderful knack for saying what comes into their minds, unfiltered … “Out of the mouths of babes,” right? What the child said could have been any number of questions or curiosities about which the accompanying parent may have experienced embarrassment and prompted the child to be quiet. What is the walk away for the child? Oh, I shouldn’t ask those questions. Or maybe, it’s not okay to talk about ‘those things.’ These types of scenarios happen all the time in our everyday lives. We react out of emotion without realizing the unintended impact it may have on those around us.

Curiosity is important. As infants, we are all born with it. We want to explore our environment and learn about everything and everyone around us. Keeping this level of curiosity as we get older is a real skill. It is a skill that contributes to our ability to participate in effective communication with others; our ability to listen with intention, to understand someone else’s perspective. Curiosity helps us to have empathy for what another person is feeling or experiencing. Curiosity is non-judgemental by nature, right? It means we are seeking information, seeking to understand something. The dictionary definition of curious, according to Merriam Webster, is “a: marked by desire to investigate and b: marked by inquisitive interest in others' concerns.”

Curiosity can play such an essential role in so many ways. If we stay curious about other people’s lives, experiences, and perspectives, we can follow that curiosity and show an interest through asking questions, which may result in the opportunity to learn what another person thinks, what they’ve experienced, and how they interpret the world. The challenge about curiosity is that our society, often unintentionally, squashes it. What if, instead, we foster curiosity and teach the art of question asking.
Identifying Bias
By: Jack James

Finding new ways to explore methods of teaching, and learning how to navigate the current emotional mountain we are climbing can be overwhelming as well as frustrating. There seems to be a new social trauma every day and trying to look at the bright side of it is almost impossible somedays. We are tasked with giving our students the information they need to cope with, or for some of our population, to simply understand, all while making sure our own beliefs and prejudices do not interfere. Again, this, at times, feels impossible. How do we teach while not giving an interpretation of our own bias?

We all see a reflection of ourselves in our students eventually. As we get to know them and vise versa, the role we play as educators morphs into us being mentors as well. Helping our students to navigate the academic skills they need and, in unintentional ways, we find ourselves introducing them to things we love, from music, literature, or even film. In every sense of the word, we do in fact mold them into a version of themselves. Even if just for the brief moment in time in which we are in their lives that becomes reflective of us and that will carry on with them throughout their lives. There is great power in that, but also a consequence.
We want our students to be independent in body and mind. Finding ways to present things such as current events is a slippery slope because we are still processing the information ourselves. Even as we are seeing it for the first time the question is always in the back of our minds, how is this going to affect the kids today? What will be their thought process? How are they going to feel/relate to what is happening? How can we make sure everyone is comfortable during this discussion. Finding ways to educate ourselves and identifying our own implicate bias is the first step. In an article from 2016 in Greater Good Magazine of Burkley University, California, Four Ways Teachers Can Reduce Implicit Bias by Jill Suttie, Suttie gives four great thought out ways for educators to incorporate implicate bias into their teaching. Below are Suttie’s list and excerpts from her article.

     Cultivate awareness of their bias - “In Group Bias leads us to assign positive characteristics and motivations to people who are similar to us. Biases like these are natural, used as cognitive shorthand for making quick social judgments in ambiguous situations, especially those involving people from unfamiliar ethnic or social groups. They become a problem when we’re not aware of their impact on other people. And if we’re part of a majority group with more social, economic, or political power than a minority one, then accumulated unconscious bias can be extremely destructive, limiting the life opportunities and hurting the well-being of the minority group. Pretending to be colorblind is not helpful and in fact, adhering to a color-blind philosophy has been shown to increase implicit bias. Admitting that we are all subject to biases creates a safer space to examine them more carefully and to take steps to fight them.”

     Work to increase empathy and empathic communication: Empathy—the ability to understand another’s perspective and emotions—is important in all human social encounters, including teaching. Yet, often teachers have little understanding of the communities where their students live and have trouble understanding their perspectives, leading them to treat these students more harshly. One solution: learning about the lives of students and showing that you care. At least one study has found that actively trying to take the perspective of another person—as opposed to trying to be “objective”—increased one’s ability to not fall prey to stereotypical views of others. Actively inducing empathy for another person has been tied to a willingness to consider environmental circumstances more closely when handing out punishments for misbehavior.”

     Practice mindfulness and loving-kindness - “Mindfulness practices—such as paying attention in a nonjudgmental way to one’s breath or other sensations—has been shown to decrease stress in teachers, which can indirectly have an effect on reducing bias. But according to some research, mindfulness may also have a direct effect on bias reduction as well. In one study, young white participants who listened to a 10-minute audiotape with instructions in mindfulness showed a less implicit bias towards blacks and older people than those who listened to a 10-minute discussion of nature. This suggests that nonjudgmental awareness, even when not specifically focused on reducing prejudice, can help reduce unconscious biases. Loving-kindness meditation—a practice that involves consciously sending out compassionate thoughts toward others—may also help.”

     Develop cross-group friendships in their own lives -  “The relationships we form outside of the classroom can also have an impact on bias. Cross-group friendships have been shown in several studies to decrease stress in intergroup situations, to decrease prejudice toward outgroup members, and to decrease one’s preference for social hierarchy or domination over lower-status groups. These findings alone might encourage teachers to seek out cross-group friendships in their lives so that they can be more receptive to the diverse students they find in their classrooms. Positive cross-group friendships can have contagion effects in other people within social groups, turning whole communities into warmer, more receptive spaces for cross-group interactions. All of this bodes well for teachers role-modeling the kind of behavior they want to see in their students.

Four Ways Teachers Can Reduce Implicit Bias

We're all subject to bias. Here are tips to help teachers treat all of their students with dignity and care

Losing the Internet: Fortunate or Unfortunate?
By: Erika Lyons

Technology appears to be at the forefront of every routine task and daily encounter these days. You hear of people choosing to ‘unplug’ from technology. Some leave their phones outside of their bedrooms so they won’t be tempted to check it during the middle of the night in hopes of getting a more restful sleep. Others turn off receiving direct email notifications to their phones. Those are choices we make.

LABBB Arlington High School recently had one piece of technology which was once accessible by the click of a button, lost suddenly with no scheduled return in sight: the internet. The familiar getting ready to zoom remote students into classes now seemed impossible.

Our three AHS classes spent the next three hours ‘unplugged’.

At first, losing the internet seemed like a problematic situation I didn’t think we were ready for. Students that typically earn an iPad to listen and watch YouTube videos could not access them. Those new Boom Cards I wanted to try out with students, I could not. The visual classroom timer projected onto the smart board to signal the duration, start and end time of an activity, we could not use.

Our classes were scheduled to have Yoga that day. Through a consistent and meaningful yoga practice with our instructors Sarah Ervin and Tori Dennis, our students were able to recall some of the poses and bring the practice back to basics with some chair yoga. The class had one of their best yoga sessions.

Students at LABBB AHS made the most of the situation. At the end of the three hours, I think we all learned how to appreciate how easily accessible the internet is to us in a time where we heavily rely on it to do our everyday tasks.
Evolution of Remote Learning
By: Kathleen Eggers

It’s strange to think that it’s been just over a year since this new reality has set in. In that time, I’m amazed to think about how resilient, flexible and dedicated the students have been. With each new challenge we threw their way, they rose to the challenge of learning new tools to keep engaged and connected.
Going into the fall and knowing that the class would be made up of both remote and in-person students, I set to work trying to make access fair and equitable as much as possible. The students access all their lessons using Chromebooks or iPads. They have learned to log in, navigate and connect to lessons in ways that have increased their independence and confidence. Adaptations, such as touch screens, enlarged keyboard keys, and trac-balls, give each student equal access. Students have learned to use bookmarks to find frequently used websites and have a Google login that keeps all the passwords connected. They can easily navigate between lessons, worksheets, and educational websites with little direction or support. 
Google slides became the classroom’s most used tool. With extensions like Peardeck, the students are able to stay connected to the lessons no matter where they are or when they are available to participate.
Google slides also allowed for our worksheets to become digital. Students interact with them via typing or completing dragging and dropping activities. Google Classroom is a central place to find all lessons, assignments and links to commonly used sites. Each student can view their daily assignments, check for grades of previously handed in work, and find links to frequently used educational sites.  
As the school year moves on, we continue to adapt how we participate. Our weekly trips to the center now include using food apps to order ahead or paying digitally to limit interactions. Lessons have started to include the multiple steps to pre-order and then how to request the items upon arrival. Again, the students have risen to the occasion and learned new things.
In the coming months we hope to start to resume more normal routines, but what we learned and achieved over the past year has helped each of the students to grow and become more independent.
Transition Department: Helping People See
By Skip Avery

The Lexington Lions Club is part of the Lions Clubs International and is the world's largest service club organization with nearly 1.35 million members in approximately 45,000 clubs in 197 countries and geographical areas. Lions are men and women who volunteer their time to humanitarian causes. Founded in 1917, the volunteer organization's motto is "We Serve." One of their main missions is to help the blind and visually impaired. This service began when Helen Keller challenged Lions to become "knights of the blind in the crusade against darkness" during the 1925 Lions Clubs International Convention.
The Lexington Lions Club collects used eyeglasses at several sites throughout Lexington and surrounding areas. Some of the eyeglasses are delivered to LABBB and our students help clean them.

This job involves counting, sorting, stacking, using an ultrasonic eyeglass cleaning machine and carefully packing the clean eyeglasses. Once we return the clean eyeglasses to the Lions Club, they are taken to Lowell and read with a Topcon Lensometer to determine the prescription of the eyeglasses and a printed label is attached. The eyeglasses are then stored until a shipment is arranged. Last year, the Lions Club provided 68,000 pairs of eyeglasses to people in need. This year, in spite of the pandemic, 36,500 pairs of eyeglasses have been sent to Somalia and they are currently working on providing a shipment of approximately 40,000 to Kenya. Over the last several years, the Lexington Lions Club, along with other Lions Clubs in Massachusetts, have supplied over 300,000 pairs of eyeglasses to people in need in over 30 countries.

We are proud to play a role in this wonderful endeavor. Thank you, LABBB students, for all of your help providing eyeglasses for people all over the world.

By the way, the Lexington Lions Club has a sublime president, many of you know her, Ms. Paula Rizzo. Ms. Rizzo, thank you for all your efforts in leading such a wonderful organization that does so much, for so many!
Winter Wonderland
By: Meaghan Henneberry and the Bedford LABBB class (Mr. Brincklow's class)

Since the beginning of January the older classroom at Bedford High LABBB has read about this year's winter solstice and become familiar with the history of winter sports and the purpose of the Winter Olympics. Similarly, we have tied the winter theme into our English Language Arts class. Students have been practicing using similes and metaphors to describe the weather and activities we do when it is cold outside. Below it a poem the older students collectively worked on after reading poetry euphemisms. 

 Winter Wonderland of Bedford LABBB
Winter is a time to take out your downhill skis.
 Ice cream cookie dough bits in the French Vanilla snow,
Nuts buried by squirrels in white blanketed trees.
This poem is like pulling molar teeth...Oooh!
Excellent time to build a snowman: Parson Brown.
Rudolph would be so very proud.

Created by: Mr. Brincklow’s Class.
Settling” into Mindfulness during “Unsettling” Times 
By: Meaghan Henneberry
Whoever thought 2020 and into 2021 would be like this?
The Covid pandemic has brought abundant emotions that are impossible to categorize in one behavior zone. This pandemic has taught us to be more thankful for past experiences and moments spent with loved ones. I think we have also become appreciative of the times we didn’t have to social distance, wear a mask, and obsess about germs. The past is now a time we can appreciate the everyday regimes of school that once seemed mundane. Here we are currently, all trying to seek serenity in the environments where we spend the most time on a weekly basis, that being remote learning

I can only speak for Bedford LABBB, but we have returned to incorporating mindfulness into our daily routine, doing guided meditation and breathing exercises. Almost a year ago, back in March, when we first entered the Zoom world, we aimed to squeeze in all subject areas of academics, P.E, social, and art classes, but did we stay mindful on screen? Then as we maintained our “movement” and “screen time breaks” between classes, we seemed to bypass a time for guided meditation.

In the older classroom, our Smartboard reveals the soothing sounds of nature and peaceful voice of guiding our students to be present, quiet and still. As teachers in LABBB, we want students to utilize the time to close their eyes and know that it is okay to really relax, even during this craziness. We are helping students meditate the best and safest way possible with a mask on, taking balloon breaths to decompress into mindfulness. Quiet time is so important to collect our thoughts and well, just…..breathe and slow our racing brains down.

The purpose for writing this article is to remind ourselves and our students that as we spend more time on screens these days with zooms, we need to take “mindful” screen time to incorporate mindfulness, quiet time and step away from our virtual world. No typing keys, no static sounds, no beeps, no doorbell rings of admission into breakout rooms or straining the eyes from blue light emission. Just, the still sound of silence and calmness. Allowing us to be thankful for our health and our LABBB community, and hope for an end to this pandemic, so we may all return to what was once “normal."
LABBB Adapted Physical Education, Recreation and Social Opportunities

Zoom Boxing continues to go well. Students are working up a sweat in their hour-long session as well as building strength and endurance, all while having fun.  
February ideas to do on your own for recreation:  

  • Find a song you like and make up a dance that lasts the length of the song. Keep practicing that same song and dance 3-4 times a week.
  • Take a walk in the snow.  
  • Do 4 to 5 exercises for 30 seconds. Repeat each exercise 5 times. Suggestions: plank, running in place, sit-ups, hoping in place, jumping jacks.  

Save the Date for upcoming events:

February 27, 2021, LABBB Valentine Dance via Zoom
March 11, 2021, LABBB St. Patrick’s Day Dance via Zoom
March 19, 2021, Alumni Dance via Zoom
SESSpecial Artists and Crafts over Zoom
Executive Director, Patric Barbieri, Hosts a Podcast talking about special needs planning and resources related to our community

In Episode #21 We have our first guest of the year and joining us is Brendan Aylward. Brendan has a degree in special education from Lesley University and owns Unified Health and Performance in Lancaster MA. Many LABBB students work out at his gym and he has created a unique culture in his gym integrating students with special needs with all gym members. Brendan's mission aligns with our mission in LABBB and he has the vision to continue to expand his business and offering more services and inclusive opportunities for students with special needs. He also created AdaptX which is a training program to become a coach for adapted fitness programs for athletes with disabilities and he talks all about it in this podcast. Click here to view Episode #21


LABBB Contacts
LABBB Collaborative
123 Cambridge Street, Burlington MA. 01803|