Message from the Executive Director
Thinking About Sending Your Son or Daughter to an Overnight Summer Camp?
This article was originally published two years ago.
In 1974, I went to my first two-week overnight camp, Camp Massapoag. I was 10 years old. It was not my choice to go, and I did everything I could to try and talk my parents out of sending me. I was relentless.
This experience happened 41 years ago, and I can still remember it like it was yesterday. I remember the smell, the sounds. Every olfactory sense from this camp is still alive within me. I didn't want to go because I didn't know what to expect; in fact, I had never been away from home before, and I was going to be away with people I did not know - for two weeks! Unfortunately, I did not have a vote in this decision. I resisted, but once I accepted it, everything changed. Camp turned from a fear into a gift. Above is a picture of my first year at camp in 1974 and my first cabin. I am in the middle with the red shirt and shorts.
My parents knew this experience would be beneficial to me. The purpose for sending me to camp then was the same as the mission we have today for all of our students attending LABBB - to promote independence. This camp was a vehicle for me to gain this independence.
For all of our students who attend LABBB, our mission is to promote academic, social, and career independence. Our goal is to create opportunities for them during their time at LABBB. Along with these opportunities comes some risk that we may resist. We want to keep our students safe, but at the same time, we need to make sure we build in goals and objectives that align with our mission. The gift we want to give is independence. We need to take advantage of this mission now. Being part of the LABBB community, you have the support of a team. You have a team that wants the very best for your child. And together, you will begin a journey that will have ups and downs, fears, and mistakes. However, we all need to keep the same question in mind, "How are we helping this student be more independent?"
My sister, who will be 39 years old next month, has Down syndrome. She went to an overnight camp every year, starting at a very young age. As an adult, when she moved into her group home, the transition was fairly easy for her. This is not always the case for young adults who leave home and move into an independent living arrangement for the first time. I can still remember the day my sister spent her first night at her group home. As one would expect, my parents were incredibly nervous and worried. One of the parents of another young adult who lived in house called my mother to give her an update on Michelle. She said to my mother, "Right now, Michelle is in the living room, lying out on the couch with a bowl of popcorn on her lap watching a movie. I think she is going to be just fine." Did going away to camp every summer help my sister prepare for this day? I have to think it had a significant benefit. She didn't seem to have any fear.
*As an update to this edition. My sister started going back to this camp last year at age 40 as many of her friends are still going. She had a great time and she is signed up again for this year.
Most parents have the same fear. They can't imagine the day their son or daughter will be living on their own. For our students, to live on their own is the best gift for each and every one of them, and we want to help prepare them for that day. I have heard, many times, from parents who spoke about their child living independently. They'd report that their child stated that once they became settled in their new home they would visit. But as it turns out, they usually can't wait to get back to their group home. This is their life now . . . their independent life.
Last summer, after 40 years, I visited Camp Massapoag. The camp is only a day camp now, but what amazed me is that everything is exactly the same. The cabins look like they did in 1974. The camp ground was exactly the same, too. It was easy to navigate, and I could easily find the cabins I lived in. I certainly built some vivid memories.
I often think of this experience. I am fortunate my parents didn't listen to me; otherwise, I would not have been able to reflect on this summer, which we then encouraged our daughter to experience.
My daughter also started going away to camp at age nine, but the only difference was that she wanted to go on her own volition. She was much braver than I! I didn't know how my wife and I were going to deal with this, but she was adamant about going, so we found a YMCA camp in Connecticut that was about 2.5 hours away. I couldn't imagine how my parents felt when they dropped me off, but I had to face my own fears as a parent. It would have been easy to say "no" at the time, but this camp has been one of the best life experiences we have given her.
I want to welcome all the students and their families who will be joining the LABBB community in July. We talk about community quite a bit because being part of LABBB is not just about being connected to your respective school, it is about connecting with the entire LABBB community.
Many of our students started in a LABBB elementary school, transitioned to a LABBB middle school, and finally graduated from LABBB. This journey, and being part of this community, has many benefits. You will connect with parents from more than 70 districts, and you will learn about resources for your children and enjoy the benefits of being a part of this larger community.
Enjoy your summer and build memories. We are honored to have you as part of our community.
2017 LABBB High School Graduation Ceremony
LABBB Unified Theater Final Performance!
By: Trish Costa
Come see the LABBB Theater Tribe perform their student written show
Location: Bedford High School Auditorium
When: Friday, June 16th
Time: 6:30 pm
Tickets will be sold at the door
This is our 3rd Unified Theater performance and we want to welcome all of the LABBB Community to come and enjoy this show. This performance is an example of how we are continuing to build our core value of adding more music, art and theater into our programs.
Clinical Corner - A Community Pulling Together
By: Lisa Gurdin
Community may be defined as a group of people who share interests, goals, and/or attitudes. Most people belong to many different communities, each of which are defined by one or more of the characteristics that members of that community share. Communities give people a sense of belonging, acceptance, and connection that are based on relationships and shared experiences. Establishing a sense of community is particularly important in schools. Students who attend schools with strong communities tend to feel more motivated, capable, and committed to their schools. Students also feel safe and supported in those environments. This is especially important for students who have, or continue to experience, trauma and social-emotional challenges.
There are several ways that school-based communities are created. First, it is important to have inviting classrooms with age-appropriate materials. Next, add caring, kind, dedicated, and welcoming staff who communicate often with family members. Finally, establishing predictable routines and expectations further supports the development of strong communities where all students feel included, supported, and safe so that they can take advantage of all of the learning opportunities presented to them.
We are fortunate to have many communities at LABBB. First, we have our One LABBB community, which includes students from preschool to age 22. Students belong to their classroom communities and may also participate in small group communities and recreational communities. Because each of our classrooms are located in public school buildings, students are part of their school communities. In addition, many of our classrooms attend school-wide events, go to inclusion classes, and participate in best buddies. Our high school students venture into the community multiple times each week, and so are part of their local communities as well.
It is important that we not only create, but nurture our communities throughout the year. We can do that by planning activities and events that promote a sense of connectedness and belonging to our various communities. For example, our high school students have several opportunities to get together with their friends at recreational outings and dances. Special Olympics is another example of how we nurture our LABBB community. As we near the end of the school year, we can look back at the communities we have created this year and look forward to the communities we will both create and nurture in the upcoming year.
LABBB Arlington High School Ropes Course
By: Donna Vanderlinden
This past May, Arlington High School PE and LABBB teamed up for an unforgettable experience! On one of the few sunny days, Kim Visco, Arlington High PE, and LABBB learned the meaning of trust and resilience!
Students took turns challenging themselves and pushing their limits!
One by one, the students not only lifted off the ground, they lifted their spirits and their confidence. Hoisting each other as well as a staff member to new heights.
This is a joint class between AHS and LABBB that has been a trial during this past year, and has been a huge success! We look forward to next year and can only anticipate what fun experiences there are to come!
Thank you to the Arlington high school community, Kim Visco and Dr. Janger!
Catching up with Best Buddies
By: Sarah Bennett
It has been another incredible exciting year with Best Buddies at Chenery! This year, our student involvement number has grown, and we have about 80 students at each event, which keeps things busy!
This year, we had a large event each month where the students had the opportunity to get together with their buddy and participate in a variety of activities. Some of the highlights this year were the pizza fundraiser event, where the students got to spend almost an entire school day together enjoying a pizza lunch and games and activities in the afternoon, field day, and the Best Buddies carnival. Field day included several relay games, and even a tug of war!
The Chenery Best Buddies also participated in the Tom Brady Challenge Event at Harvard Stadium. A large group of students and their buddies attended the football game as a kick off to the Best Buddies challenge bike race and run that takes place in Hyannis Port each year to raise money for Best Buddies. We even have a poster signed by Tom Brady!
It has been my absolute pleasure leading this group of students. The friendships created are lasting friendships, and it is incredibly heart warming to see the students finding each other in the cafeteria to eat lunch with their buddy, give high fives in the hallway, and assist their buddies in inclusion classes such as art or library.
Chenery Best Buddies is a wonderful group made up of amazing students!
By: Theresa LeBlanc, LABBB Transition Specialist
Since early last year, the Transition Department Team of specialists have been focused on expanding our list of community partners with the goal to provide a broader choice of community based volunteer and work experiences. Two of our new volunteer/intern placements include Brightview Senior Living and CVS.
Brightview Senior Living is located in Woburn, overlooking the Woburn Country Club golf course. Brightview offers independent living for seniors with spacious apartments, assisted living services as well as a dedicated area for dementia care. LABBB students are integrating into dining and housekeeping services, the recreation and leisure department, as well as in the maintenance department. We currently volunteer three days per week with the addition of two more days in September.
CVS has a unique intern program that provides LABBB students with key experiences in many areas including customer service, label and price changes, inventory functions, and store maintenance and cleaning. We are currently interning several days a week at the Lexington, Burlington, Arlington and Alewife Cambridge stores.
We look forward to continuing to foster these mutually beneficial partnerships in the future.
Recreation News and Events
Paula Rizzo, Integration and Recreation Coordinator
2017 LABBB Camping Trip
LABBB Campers were excited to be heading back
to the Ocean View Camp Grounds in Wells, Maine.
There was lots of rain the week leading up to our adventure, and there was more in the forecast, but we ended up with a sunny weekend. This was
a great learning experience for our campers! We learned how to keep all our belongings accounted for and organize ourselves in a small space. We also learned how to keep bugs out of tents.
The campers got a lot of exercise on this trip. We hiked Mount Agamenticus and were rewarded with views of the ocean, the mountains and beautiful skies.
We also walked from Wells Beach to Ogunquit Beach then enjoyed the cool Maine water. We visited Perkins Cove and the Maine coast by walking the Marginal Way and visiting Nubble Light.
With a busy schedule, we still had time to visit the Wiggley Bridge, Old Gaol, York Beach, and the famous Golden Rod, where campers bought salt water taffy for their families.
The trip ended with a visit to the arcade. This was a very successful camping trip, and we look forward to doing it again next year.
Enjoy the photos.
Always remember to follow @LABBBREC on Twitter
The LABBB Recreation Department would like to thank Todd Paris for working with us to create three sessions of the
Lucky Punch Boxing at LABBB. We started out with one session and found it so popular that we added two more sessions. The third session just ended at the end of April. We are bringing Todd back in September for another ten week session.
he date is set for the LABBB Reunion Dance, September 22, 2017. Look for invitations to come out in August.
Tuesday and Thursday Bowling groups have started again along with Wednesday Recreation.
We have 2 new collaborations, one with Waypoint Adventures and one with TILL:
- Waypoint Adventures took LABBB students Rock Climbing and will be doing a kayaking trip in June with more rock climbing groups in October.
- We also have a joint trip with TILL, as we travel to Ireland together in June.
Stay tuned for more updates.
(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: email@example.com 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: firstname.lastname@example.org or 781-686-6073 Lifelinks - DDS Family Support Center, Chelmsford, Rachel Ward Sullivan: email@example.com 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,firstname.lastname@example.org or 781-640-9351
Trips R Us, Framingham, Mike Graham: email@example.com or 508-405-0999
Alternative Leisure (ALCS), Bedford, Drew Bilillies: firstname.lastname@example.org 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: email@example.com or 617-993-2760
(SNAP) Special Needs Arts Program Chorus & Art, Lexington Contact: firstname.lastname@example.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: email@example.com or 617-796-1527
Kids in Disability Sports (K.I.D.S.), Lowell, Info: firstname.lastname@example.org or 866-712-7799
Burlington Therapeutic Recreation, Burlington, Laurel Rossiter: