May 2019

          A LABBB Collaborative        Newsletter
   Sharing best practices for promoting inclusive opportunities         for  students with special needs 
255 LABBB Students Compete at our 2019 Special Olympics!
In This Issue
Message from the Executive Director
Patric Barbieri
Overnight Camping

For many years we have encouraged families to start exploring and researching overnight camps for their son or daughter. You can do a bit of research but we have listed a few camp options below where many of our current students and alumni have attended and continue to attend. We encourage overnight camps because this is an important step in special needs planning. 

We have been hearing of more parents looking into overnight camps, and if you have sent your son or daughter to an overnight camp it would be great to hear about their experiences so we can share with others. When parents share experiences with other parents it has a big impact. One of the reasons we wanted to hold our transition conference was so parents could connect while also learning about and understanding the road of planning for the future. When parents hear of what other parents are doing, it is inspiring and it also is significantly less stressful because you learn that you don't need to go at it alone. 

The outcome of an overnight camp experience is not necessarily going to be, "I had an awesome time, I can't wait until next year." We would love to hear that, but we might hear about how homesick a student was, but these are all steps in the right direction to building independence. Doing smaller overnight trips when students are younger will also be a bit easier than when they are an adult. 

LABBB holds many overnight trips throughout the year and we have worked with families who are sending their son or daughter on an overnight trip for the first time because we know this is a very emotional decision. We also have been holding weekend camping trips during the summer and this has been very successful experience for our students. We believe that this is part of building our students' transition skills. 

C amp options for students with special needs: 

P atric
You Can't Go Home Again
By: Brian Walsh

This expression gained wide-spread popularity  from the title of Thomas Wolfe's acclaimed novel, 'You Can't Go Home Again'. The meaning behind this phrase was that if one tries to return to a place one remembers from their past, it won't be the same as they remember it.
Our LABBB family however disputes this notion and welcomes the return of those young adults back home. Personal transition stories are shared and often include post-secondary experiences from continued education, training programs, employment, work opportunities, day programs, so on and so forth.
Inviting these young adults 'back home', serving as mentors and co-teachers in Career Education class not only recognizes and appreciates their person and experiences, but it also fosters and supports those high school students as they seek to construct their post-secondary vision and plan. To this, each individual in the space is then valued and appreciated. An authentic dialogue and relationship is then formed thru this offering.  
The LABBB Burlington High School Career Education class recently had two such former students, Pelly D. and Hunter W., return home and give willingly of their time to speak with and listen to the present students. Pelly spoke eloquently about his change from LABBB to Lesley University's Threshold Program and later about his shift into their Bridge Program. Pelly admitted the opportunities to work part-time while balancing his class schedule, dormitory life and a mix of social activities were a struggle at first, but with practice and program supports, he soon was able to and continues to successfully organize and manage his time wisely to each of the above areas.
Hunter, a graduate from LABBB Career Directions, opted to enter the workforce after high school. His interest and passion was for music, yet he also realized he wanted to earn his driver's license, which he did, wanted to earn money, and at some point even try living on his own or with roommates. He had worked part-time during high school at a local Melrose, MA restaurant and after high school had tried his hand at working with a moving company and at BJ's Tire, among other places. All the while, he stayed in touch with his LABBB Transition Counselor to connect on employment opportunities, music opportunities, and life issues. Putting him in touch with a friend who plays in a heavy metal band, but is also a music therapist, as he states, 'to pay my bills' proved beneficial in terms of Hunter seeing alternative options to follow his bliss, i.e., music, while being able to meet the realities of daily living expenses. Hunter captivated the students with his journey and less than a week later he and his band were slated to play a 'gig' at a local establishment.          
There are numerous mentoring models that are commonly used in post-secondary situations, One-to-One Community Based Model, One-to-One Employer-Based Model, and a Group Mentoring Model. Our efforts are step a in this direction.  Regardless of the model, all mentoring relationships share a common goal of helping young people.
Joseph Campbell outlined in his work, The Hero's Journey, framing our universal journey into its most basic form, dividing it into three parts: 1. Departure 2. Initiation 3. Return
The Hero ' s Journey lies on the stages of the Hero, our LABBB students and we all pass through. At LABBB, we encourage our heroes to return home, to share their journey, tell their stories, and by doing so find meaning in their experiences with and through LABBB, as well as beyond LABBB for the benefit of others in our LABBB family. So yes, we can return home - again and again and again.
What is Interoception?
By: Lisa Poirier, MS, OTR
How do we really know if we are Tired? Anxious? Our bodies are designed to give us signals. We may have a distracted mind, a quiet voice or a flutter of the heart. As of late last year, I had no idea of what "interoception" was. It piqued my interest as one of the topics that was being discussed at the Therapies in the Schools Conference I attended back in November 2018. As I listened to the speaker, I was hooked! We certainly work on self regulation at LABBB, but interoception is like peeling the layers of the onion and getting real deep about helping our student recognize what sensations they are noticing in their bodies. We need this skill to be able to not only identify how we are feeling but to then act accordingly in the form of a strategy or action. For example, we know that we need to eat when we feel hungry because we may experience low energy or a grumbling stomach. These are our bodies clues to do something about it, therefore, the most likely strategy in this case is to eat. Many of our students do not experience sensations the way most of us do because of reduced body awareness and a limited understanding of emotions. Mindfulness plays a big role with interoception because essentially we are noticing how we feel in the moment. We may help the student identify that their muscles feel fidgety, their brain feels scattered, their mouth is dry, they have sweaty palms, jaw tightness or a loud voice. As teachers, we can help link those sensations to potential emotions such as bored, tired, anxious, or angry. We can then help our students identify what strategies work for them in that moment. They may need a movement activity, a quiet space, listening to music, talking to a teacher, or getting drink of water. At LABBB, we already teach our students emotions and strategies, such as the Zones of Regulation, but interoception starts at the beginning and helps develop self advocacy skills through the lens of being their own body "detectives."
For more information and resources:
15th Annual LABBB Special Olympics
By: Susan Good
Celebration of the 15th Annual LABBB Special Olympics
Wow! Another year has come and gone! Although the sun did not shine down on the 15th annual LABBB Special Olympics at Parker Field in Lexington on Wednesday, the athletes did not let that stop them from shining in the events they participated in on this extraordinary day! From our elementary schools and middle schools to our high schools, we had over 200 LABBB student-athletes participating in multiple events. At all of our program levels, LABBB athletes were able to show their running and walking ability in the relay event, the 50 meter dash, and the 100 meter dash. The athletes all waited eagerly for their event to be called and were more than ready to give it everything they had when at the starting line! The athletes not only took part in running and walking events, but also participated in events like the tennis ball throw, softball throw, and the long jump! Nonetheless, no matter the event or place an athlete took, everyone was a winner on this day!

A special News Flash from our LABBB Bedford High Program:
We would like to thank all the Bedford Best Buddies who made this day and experience for our athletes so successful! The leadership, guidance, and friendship that the Best Buddies provide on this day are extra special because of the dynamics and necessary support involved to navigate each athlete through his/her events. Each Buddy did it with kindness and sincerity for our Bedford classrooms. Sometimes we forget that being a Best Buddy is a learning experience too for the individuals and the responsibility involved with being a Buddy. Again, their presence and commitment are truly valued.
We would also  like to thank Sergeant Wardwell, Kristen Dineen, and the crew from the Bedford Police Department for spending the day with us! There were a lot of hungry athletes to feed on this day, and although delicious food is provided at this event, we were honored to have them take time out of their day to set up a Bedford camp complete with a police car, tent, grilled burgers and dogs, and a popcorn machine for all to enjoy. The students and staff were very grateful for the extra thoughtful treats! No athlete went home with a hungry belly! One last final applause goes to Paula Rizzo and the APE staff for the time and effort over the last few months for organizing this memorable event! Rain or shine it always warms our hearts to see the athletes in their glory and basking in the medals they won. One thing is for sure, we are already looking forward to next year! 


Here are some quotes from our LABBB Bedford athletes about the day:
Evan B, Freshman
I liked doing sand art with my best buddy at Special Olympics because it was relaxing and I talked with my best buddy, Mariana.   I also enjoyed talking to Sgt. Wardwell at the tent during lunch.My favorite event was running the 50 meter dash. I came in second place and i got a silver medal.
Nick K, Sophomore
My favorite part about special olympics was winning the medals. I got 2 silver and one bronze. I won them for the 50 meter dash, the 100 meter dash, and the standing long jump. I got a hot dog, a burger, watermelon, and a cookie.
Stevie W, Junior
I like running the 50 meter dash and 100 meter dash with my buddy at the Special Olympics. I went to the tent for lunch. I had a hot dog with mustard. And the softball throw. I won 3 gold and 3 silver medals.  

Clinical Corner: Mental Health Awareness Month
By: Kaitlin Taylor
May is Mental Health Awareness Month! Monitoring your mental health can be just as important as monitoring your physical health. Your mind needs to be exercised, nourished, and given rest when it needs.
To exercise your mind, try completing some logic puzzles, playing a game, or learning a new skill.
To nourish your mind, try reciting some positive mantras, listing out things that you are thankful for, or journaling your thoughts.
To rest your mind, try practicing a mindfulness routine and remember to get as much sleep as you can.
Other resources you can check out for activities to support your mental are:

Recreation News and Events
By: Paula Rizzo, Integration and Recreation Coordinator
The behind the scenes of LABBB/Best Buddies Special Olympics:
This year was extra special as it was the 15th year Lexington High School has hosted.
May: The management team begins planning a year ahead. We start by looking back at what was good or bad about the year's event. Changes always need to be made, even if the event was a success.
January: The team begins to meet once a month, eventually moving to more than one meeting each month as May approaches.
Below are just a few of the items we discuss:
  • How to make the registration form easier to enroll students. This year, all the registration was on-line with no paperwork to hand in. 
  • Shirt colors: It may sound like a simple process, but there's more to choosing shirt colors than you think. The management team starts looking in a book, then samples are brought in. We try to ensure colors look good together (contrast of the logos and that the athlete and volunteer shirts complement each other). This process can take up to two meetings.   
  • Food for everyone: In addition to the catered lunch for the athletes and Best Buddies, we order pizza, water, coffee and donuts and secure a food truck for volunteers and spectators to purchase food. 
  • Community is a big part of the event. We get Lexington and other LABBB town officials involved as well local press, businesses, etc.
April 30:  It is very impressive to see all the high school volunteers in front of us in the field house the night before. Some are doing it for their fourth time and others for their first. They are just as excited as our LABBB students.
May 1 (the big day):  You'll never see as many teenagers out of bed at 7:15 am ready to go as we do in the field house the morning of the event. They can't wait to greet their athlete. The sad part is when an athlete, for whatever reason, is not coming to the event that day. The buddy looks so disappointed and wants to know if they can have another buddy or what they can do for the day. They genuinely want to be a part of this event. We always find something for them so they can still be a part of such a fun day.
So many volunteers (about 500), athletes (255), Lexington Town officials, LABBB VIPs, local police Chiefs and officers and Lexington Fire Department joined us this year. All wanted to be a part of "the best day ever."
It is work and lot of planning to put this event together but it is a team effort.
The fun, enjoyment, excitement, success, and positivity of the day is well worth it, and why we do it year after year. We hope anyone that came had as good a time as the athletes and volunteers. Thank you for your support. Enjoy the photos and join us next year. The planning has begun already.


Tuesday and Thursday bowling groups have started again, along with Wednesday Recreation.

Upcoming Fundraisers for LABBB:

Accessible Bike Demo Day

May 19 @ 1:00 pm -  5:00 pm

Pedal Power Bike & Ski,  176 Great Road (Rt. 2A) 
Acton, MA 01720 United States 
+ Google Map

Adaptive bikes and trikes will be available to try at Pedal Power Bike & Ski.

Contact: Leslie Johnson,   978-618-1812 to register

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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