February 2018

          A LABBB Collaborative  Newsletter

   Sharing best practices for promoting inclusive opportunities       for  students with special needs 
Gatorade Massachusetts Athlete of the year Sal Frelick with LABBB Best Buddies
In This Issue
Message from the Executive Director
Patric Barbieri
In The Public     

Stephen Covey said, "Strength lies in differences, not in similarities." We believe in our mission for LABBB, and we are putting this into practice each and every day. A very important part of our mission is to have our students be included in the most inclusive settings possible. 

We achieve this by having all our programs located in public schools, including programs at Minuteman Tech and at Middlesex Community College, which are simply extensions of our most inclusive settings.   We also have many work sites where our students are integrated within the organization, working along side other employees (Listen to LABBB podcast #10). We engage in our community, we make the most of the opportunity be part of our public school communities and the businesses with which we partner.   

We are teaching our students how to navigate in the real world and how to solve problems, and we believe that the best way to do this is to be as inclusive as possible. We welcome the problems that arise, as there isn't a better training ground to do this. Our students will be part of this world when they graduate, when they are working on their own, living on their own, and going into their community. This is our practice ground. 

The benefits go beyond what we ever imagined. The relationships we are building with Best Buddies, PALS, teachers, administrators, the bank clerk, a bus driver, a custodian, a secretary, community businesses, and most of all, the student body within our buildings, is paramount to experiencing an inclusive world. 

The challenges that we face and the problems we solve are real. To be immersed in these settings demonstrates what our students CAN do. How else are we going to show everyone in the community the value our students can bring?

From a student's perspective, we want them to know, this is "our" world. We are part of the public. We belong. We fit in. We are one. 

I often think of how many people are touching our students' lives in our public schools. How many of these people may give our students jobs in the future because they connected with our students in school, and they had an experience they want to share. Just think about how many Best Buddies and PALS there will be in the world that have worked with our students. This brings opportunities for the future.  

Within our public schools, there are many more differences than similarities. We are contributing to this. Be Public!

Watch Fox 25 News Gene Lavanchy Interview with Omar Masood: Local 'superhero' opens new comic book store in Lexington
by: Kristin Dailey

January 15, 2018 was a legendary day for Omar and his parents. This was the first day of the next chapter of Omar's life. As one of our former articles stated, Omar's World of Comics and Hobbies opened on this day in Lexington Center. The overwhelming feelings of happiness, accomplishment, and support were enormously apparent.
Everyone at LABBB feels so lucky to be a part of Omar's World of Comics and Hobbies. One of our students was recently hired to work there, and several other students began internships last week!
It has been so amazing to see the local support of Omar's store. Lexington community members, business owners, and of course all of LABBB want to talk about the store - visit the store - and 'spread the word' about the store! Thanks to Boston Local News (Fox 25), Omar and his family were able to 'spread the word' to an enormous audience! Gene Lavanchy from Fox 25 interviewed Omar and his family a few days after opening!
During the interview , Omar stated that his dream has come true. He now owns a store full of his most favorite items, and that employs his most favorite people. Omar and his friends are able to spend time together, learn valuable work-related skills, be productive members of society, and most importantly, have fun.
One of the most memorable statements Omar made during the interview was when he was asked, "How do you handle the fame?" to which he responded, "Because I like who I am."  To hear Omar make such an honest comment about himself was truly refreshing . This should be a lifelong goal for everyone!
DIY Soap Bars at Ottoson Middle School
By: Sarah Ervin,  MSOTR/L
Ivory soap was made in the 1900s and was marketed as the only soap that floats! This past month, the students in Ottoson Middle School did a science experiment/ DIY soap-snowman craft with this special soap. The instructions for the craft very specifically called for the use of Ivory soap and once we started, we soon discovered why. During the manufacturing process of the soap, air is whipped into the water allowing for air bubbles to form. 

When you place the soap into the microwave, the water molecules evaporate and the air expands and transforms the soap into a pillowy, flakey, cloud shape (see pictures below)! The soap medium allowed for a fun tactile experience. Students used bilateral coordination skills to crumble the soap up into a fine powder. Next, water was added to the soap by using an eye-dropper which provided an opportunity to develop  pincer grasp, intrinsic hand strength, and sequencing skills. The students continued to work on bilateral coordination skills to stabilize the bowl while stirring ingredients. 

When the soap became a paste, the students used their manual dexterity skills to scoop the mixture into cookie cutters to make them into cute soap bars. We added some final details to make them look like snowmen, a dinosaur, a rabbit, and a flower!  We can't wait to practice washing our hands with our homemade soap bars! You can find the full instructions   here.  

Inclusion at Francis Wyman!
By: Sarah Bennett

Things have been very busy for the K-2 class at Francis Wyman! We have been doing many inclusion activities with the first graders, which have included learning about different holidays, a trip on the Polar Express, and many indoor recess activities to stay warm on the cold days.
The week before the winter break, our first grade students traveled around to each of the first grade classrooms to learn about the winter holidays that are celebrated around the world. Each first grade classroom had a different theme, which included Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanza, Diwali, and St. Lucia Day. The students learned about the holiday, and then made a craft that related to that holiday. The first grade students have formed such a nice friendship with each of our students, and it's incredibly heartwarming to watch them interact with each other.
We also participated in a trip to the Polar Express with the first grade! Our class read the book The Polar Express the week before break, and followed the literacy curriculum by finding core words from the story that they hear and use often throughout their day. Then, they received a ticket to climb aboard the Polar Express! They each handed their ticket to the conductor (yes, we had a conductor!), and then had a fun time with the first graders on the train, drinking hot cocoa and eating cookies.
We stay very busy here in room 106. We have inclusion opportunities everyday and lasting friendships are being formed between the students!   

LABBB Burlington High School's PALS Program
By: David Dooks

Here at Burlington High School, LABBB students take part in the PALS program.  Unlike Best Buddies, PALS activities with Burlington High School students are during the school day, and instead of LABBB students being "assigned" one traditional student, PALS incorporates all students in some a social activity where all students integrate together to participate in the chosen activity.

So far this year, we have had scavenger hunts and social game "mixers" to get to know one another, a lesson in making Balloon Animals, and we've had guest artists come in to lead an activity.  Most recently, we had a PALS Paint Night Afternoon.  With the help of one of the art teachers from Burlington, students socialized and chatted while creating individual abstract works of art.  Everyone started with a blank canvas, a roll of painter's tape, some paint, and their own imagination.  After laying down a pattern of tape, and creating angles and geometric shapes, it was time to paint and chat.  Students experimented with different brushes and colors, shapes and patterns, and created some truly magnificent designs.  Once the paint was dry, the tape was removed and the artwork was complete.

All PALS events have included some snacks at the end of the event, and all students who've participated, leave with a smile and some shared experiences.  Friendships are forming between LABBB students and their Burlington High School counterparts as can be seen by conversations struck up during lunch when the students see each other.
Clinical Corner: Learning about our Emotions and Coping Strategies at Bedford High
By: Cori Purcell, LABBB Counselor
Students at Bedford High participate in a weekly Young Adult Group where they explore a  variety of topics including: peer pressure, bullying, healthy relationship development, stress management, self-advocacy, emotional regulation, etc. 
This past month, students engaged in multiple group activities while learning about the Zones of Regulation.  
The Zones of Regulation is a curriculum aimed to help students develop skills in emotional regulation.  The curriculum is designed to help students recognize when they are in different states or "zones," by connecting their emotions to a zone and identifying coping strategies they can use to manage their feelings. 

Our students were assigned the task of working collaboratively to identify the feelings and coping strategies associated with their assigned zone.  Students demonstrated a variety of skills during this activity including, effective communication, creative thinking, compromise, and negotiation when making their posters.  Additionally, students did an impressive job with identifying coping strategies they can utilize to help themselves feel better during challenging times.  Some examples include, taking a walk, taking a deep breath, using a fidget, coloring, and checking in with an adult.   
Finally, students had a chance to practice their public speaking skills by presenting their posters in class.  Posters are currently hanging up in the classroom to remind students of their hard work and to use a strategy when they need to!  

Our Government at Work in Room 212 at Chenery 
By: Eileen Tomkiewicz

Students in Room 212 have been learning about the 3 branches of government.  Recently, everyone participated in a fun and educational endeavor to experience how a bill becomes a law.  At the Capital Building, the Legislative branch was represented by Senator Grace and Representative Lindsey.  President William, Vice President Gabby, Attorney General Simon, and Secretary of State Scott were meeting at the White House representing the Executive branch.  Not to be outdone, the Judicial branch was represented by Chief Justice Eduardo busy hearing cases at the Supreme Court.  Students were diligently completing their governmental duties.  Senator Grace and Representative Lindsey wrote and voted on a new bill which they brought to President William.  President William was meeting with his cabinet members.  He considered the bill, and decided to sign it into law.  Vice President Gabriella was in agreement as was Attorney General Simon and Secretary of State Scott. Sometime later, Chief Justice Eduardo was asked to interpret and explain the newly passed bill.   He did so thoroughly; explaining that weekends would now be longer, and the school week would be much shorter.

LABBB AHS Internship Program
By: Stephen Goodwin
For the past two years, LABBB Arlington High School has hosted an Arlington High School senior as part of the Arlington High School Internship Program.  This program is designed to provide a practical, hands-on learning experience that the Arlington High School senior could then consider to study further while in college and/or ponder as a potential career.  This year, LABBB Arlington High School was blessed to have a wonderful senior named Riley.  Riley is interested in becoming a speech and language pathologist and sought us out last spring.  Thus, this year, she has worked with the sublime Keren Averback, LABBB AHS/Ottoson Speech and Language Pathologist.  Riley has observed and participated in several small speech groups each week as well as learned how to prepare instructional materials with guidance from Keren.  Riley has begun to hear back from colleges and has already been accepted by several.  (Congrats to her!)  She remains interested in becoming a speech and language pathologist and her internship experience at LABBB AHS has only heightened this interest.  Many thanks to Riley and Keren for their efforts on behalf of our students this year at LABBB AHS/Ottoson.  We hope to have many more interns like her in the years to come.
Recreation News and Events
By:  Paula Rizzo, Integration and Recreation Coordinator

Recreation Updates

February 1-3, 2018: 
Ski trip to Attitash. LABBB skiers participated with an Ability Plus instructor on either the beginner slopes or at the top.  There were many smiles and fist bumps for so many accomplishments. We were excited to see a couple of past LABBB graduates, Melissa & Kevin, taking their own lessons through Ability Plus. While the weather was cold on Friday and cool on Saturday, it didn't matter - LABBB students were on the slopes, taking breaks and getting right back out there. Next year's trip is already planned for  January 31 - February 2, 2019.

Spring Recreation
Spring recreation is around the corner at LABBB. Registration information for bowling, Wednesday recreation programs, February trips and the February Dance has been sent out in the mail. Please respond by the due dates.  We have some new activities that we are trying out this spring/summer. We are partnering with Waypoint for  Kayaking. See details below.

  • 2-Beginner Kayaking programs
  • Dates: 6/12/18 and 6/19/18 (Tuesdays)
  • Time: 4:30-7:00pm
  • Lake Cochituate in Wayland
Global Flight Adventures
  • Flight Simulation Center.
  • We will start with a one day trip (date TBD), then possibly look into a monthly trip if we have the interest.

We are also looking into doing some hiking trips as a day trip and overnight. Stay tuned.  


A LABBB Podcast

In this episode we talk with Mobility Transfer Systems Inc. owner Thomas Leoutsakos, his wife Dina Leoutsakos, and Stephani DiDonato-Azar. Listen to this amazing story and the opportunity this company gives to our students in LABBB. We feel fortunate to be partnering with such a compassionate and forward thinking organization. Mobility Transfer Systems Inc. is the predominant leader in bringing you unique medical products to improve the quality of life for people who are physically challenged and elderly. We are the manufacturers of The Transfer Handle ™ which is the Safest and Easiest way to get in and out of bed. We also produce an entire line of bed mobility products as well as the SafetySure ™ line of products. MTS is a close knit company that prides itself on providing first class customer service to all of our clients. We supply products to individuals, businesses, doctors and hospitals throughout the United States. Our team is bright, talented, passionate and always willing to help you with whatever you may need. Our mtsmedicalsupply.com website features hundreds of enabling devices that makes life easier to all those who require them. So... Give yourself a grip on INDEPENDENCE today!

More Episodes:

Episode 5: Bonus, Jenna's ADHD Strategies

Parent Resources
  • LABBB School Cancellation Policy: 
    All LABBB programs follow the school cancellations in their respective towns.
Recreation Links  

(FNFC) Friday Night Fun Club, Bedford, Ann Seamans: AnnSeamans@aol.com or 781-275-8381
(MMArc) Minute Man Arc Afternoon Recreation Afternoon Recreation & Friday Nights (16+yrs), Darcie Heller: dheller@minutemanarc.org or C:978-201-2481/W: 978-287-7936 

(TILL) Toward Independent Living & Learning Travel:  Springboard Club, Dedham, high independence, Dale Belcher: Dale.Belcher@tillinc.org or 781-302-4619 (RARA) Recreational Adult Resource Association, Lowell Contact: Office@RARAagency.org or 978-453-5598 
Riverside Community Care: DDS Family Support Center, Woburn Kaley Stoner: kstoner@riversidecc.org or 781-686-6073  Lifelinks - DDS Family Support Center, Chelmsford, Rachel Ward Sullivan: wardsullivan@lifelinksinc.net or 978-349-3040  *verify current + open to public 

Greater Marlborough Programs Inc - Social & Recreation (DDS Family Support), Marlborough Jim Karami: Jim@gmpinc.org or 508-485-4227 ext. 1006 
Echo Enrichment, Burlington, Mary Ann Perreira,echonews@echoenrichment.com or 781-640-9351 
Trips R Us, Framingham, Mike Graham: mike@tripsrus.org or 508-405-0999 

Alternative Leisure (ALCS), Bedford, Drew Bilillies: alctrips@aol.com or 781-275-0023 
Music Makes Me Happy Chorus, Lexington, Marsha Martin: Marsha@mmmh-singers.org 
Concord Recreation, Anna Wood: awood@concordma.

Sudbury Therapeutic Recreation, Amber Forbes: ForbesA@sudbury.ma.us or 978-639-3257 

Belmont (SPORT) Special Programs Heidi Barbiero:  recreation@belmont-ma.gov  or 617-993-2760 

(SNAP) Special Needs Arts Program Chorus & Art, Lexington Contact: info@snaparts.org or 781-325-8025

(GWArc) Greater Waltham Arc Recreation/Plus: Mike Mullins: Recreation@gwarc.org or 781-899-1344 x4120  Newton Therapeutic Recreation w/ Newton Athletes Unlimited, NewtonMark Kelly: mkelly@newtonma.gov or 617-796-1527 
Kids in Disability Sports (K.I.D.S.), Lowell, Info: info@kidsinc.us or 866-712-7799 
Access Sport America, Acton, BettyMiller: Betty@accessportamerica.org
Burlington Therapeutic Recreation, Burlington, Laurel Rossiter:
CTRS@burlington.org, 781-270-1937

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