Savannah Autism Conference Features Activist Temple Grandin as Keynote and Announces First Local Reverse Job Fair

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Savannah Autism Conference Features Activist Temple Grandin as Keynote and Announces First Local Reverse Job Fair

(SAVANNAH, GA) Autism activist Temple Grandin, widely acknowledged as one of the world’s most accomplished and best-known autistic adults, will be the keynote speaker when the Matthew Reardon Center for Autismhosts its 2019 Autism ConferenceFeb. 28 and March 1 at the Savannah Convention Center. The conference comes as estimates indicate that one in 59 children born in the United States will be diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder.

2019 Autism Conference

 

The Reardon Center’s fourth annual conference is organized for a diverse audience: professionals and academics who work with autistic people (with continuing education credits in many cases), families affected by autism, autistic people, potential employers and members of the general public who are interested in this growing social and medical challenge.

Grandin will discuss “Autism and My Path Through Life” the final afternoon of the conference as wrap up of the two-day conference, which also features presentations by 22 autism experts and includes a first-in-Savannah Reverse Job Fair to help people with autism find jobs.

General admission tickets for both days are $135, one-day tickets for Thursday or Friday are available for $100 or admission to Grandin’s lecture only is priced at $60. SCCPSSemployees are eligible for a specially-discounted, one day ticket, as well. To register and buy tickets, visit www.2019autismconference.com.

Grandin, a best-selling author of multiple books and an internationally recognized expert in animal welfare and behavior, did not speak until she was four-years-old and was diagnosed with autism at a time when it was less well understood than it is today. Her family ignored advice to institutionalize her and she went on to earn a doctorate in animal science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She currently is a professor of animal science at Colorado State University, and her research in the development of humane systems of handling animals in the meat-production industry is highly regarded and implemented internationally. Grandin is also the subject of a biographical movie and numerous television documentaries.

The 2019 Autism Conferencewill also feature numerous nationally-respected speakers, addressing topics such as educational strategies for teachers and parents, augmentative and assistive communication, guardianship and other legal issues, bullying and personal accounts from autistic people. A complete list of speakers can be found at https://2019autismconference.com/guest-speakers/autism-conference-speakers/

In addition to diverse workshops and Grandin’s keynote address, the conference will host a Reverse Job Fair, a setting which removes many of the barriers people with autism face when seeking employment.

How will this work? Registered job seekers with autism will prepare in workshops prior to the conference. At the conference fair, each job seeker will set up a table complete with posters and resumes. Potential employers then go from table to table, giving each job-seeker an opportunity to showcase their particular strengths. Interested employers should contact Jim Atkinson at jatkinson@progressiveabilities.org.

The 2019 Autism Conferenceis sponsored by Memorial University Medical Center, the Savannah Morning Newsand WTOC.

For more information, to register for the job fair or to purchase tickets, visit www.2019autismconference.com

ABOUT THE MATTHEW REARDON CENTER FOR AUTISM(MRCA):
MRCAoperates southeast Georgia’s only accredited year-round day school for children with autism. They have provided advocacy and outreach services to more than 870 families across southeast Georgia and have hosted professional training and instructional opportunities for more than 4,500 family members, educators, health professionals and self-advocates. The organization was incorporated in 2000 and currently serves 27 students through ADVANCE Academy. They have 14 full-time employees and operate in an 8,800 sq foot school building, formerly St. Francis Cabrini Catholic School, located at 11500 Middleground Road, Savannah, GA 31419. Website: http://www.matthewreardon.org/

MEDIA CONTACT
Cynthia Cradduck
Carriage Trade Public Relations
912-856-9075
cynthia.cradduck@carriagetradepr.com
www.carriagetradepr.com

The Greatest Legacy of President George H.W. Bush

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The Greatest Legacy of President George H.W. Bush
By Kayla Johnson

Over the past several days, Americans have paused to remember our 41st U.S. president, George H.W. Bush.

Kayla Johnson, Lowcountry Down Syndrome Society

Following his death on November 30, the news was filled with reminders of his dedication as a public servant. As vice president and president, he helped guide our country out of the cold war. During World War II, he was an aviator in the Pacific theater and survived being shot down by Japanese gunners.

Plus, all of us have seen the many photos portraying his humanity as a devoted husband, father and grandfather to a large and loving family.

While I honor and remember him for all of these things, it was the union of the two great loves of his life – service to his country and love of family – that became his greatest legacy. That occurred when he signed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) into law on July 26, 1990. He had supported the monumental legislation as it made its way through Congress and is credited with ensuring its eventual passage.

Modeled after the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the ADA is one of America’s most comprehensive pieces of civil rights legislation designed to prohibit discrimination and guarantee that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else to participate in the mainstream of American life. It opened doors to employment opportunities, requires covered employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities and imposes accessibility requirements on public accommodations.

This legislation changed everything, not just for those with disabilities, but for all of us.

When President Bush signed the ADA into law on that third week after Independence Day nearly 30 years ago, he did so with a great sense of enthusiasm and ceremony. While I’m sure he was confident it would be an “equal opportunity” law for people with disabilities, I also believe his passion was genuine as he shared these words at the bill’s signing:

“I now lift my pen to sign this Americans with Disabilities Act and say: Let the shameful wall of exclusion finally come tumbling down.”

President Bush went on to champion, and then sign the IDEA Act in October 1990, which provides children with disabilities the same opportunities for education as those students who do not have a disability. His actions directly influenced the passage of the ABLE Act in 2014, which created tax-advantaged savings accounts for individuals with disabilities; and H.R. 188, also known as the TIME Act, which was introduced in 2015. This legislation proposes phasing out a section of the Fair Labor Standards Act which allows “sub-minimum wage” compensation for work by people with different abilities.

While our work is ongoing, the lawful beginnings are notably attributed to President George H. W. Bush and for him, we are thankful.

Certainly, the ADA declared new opportunities for the differently-abled to be independent, but could we have imagined how it would benefit everyone? From that day forward, the word “inclusion” would become part of our vocabulary, our building codes, our hiring practices and our general thoughts.

The often unspoken rift that had long kept those with disabilities from sharing spaces, workplaces and experiences that everyone else takes for granted was dissolving. It would not be an immediate transition or an easy one for some, but little by little the ADA changed our culture and our mindsets. People who had been considered invisible or hindered by convention and physical obstacles were now recognized as the productive, enthusiastic, capable individuals that they are and were finally given the full rights of citizenship afforded to every other American.

As executive director of the Lowcountry Down Syndrome Society, I see the fruits of the ADA each day in the eyes and on the faces of those whose lives have been changed for the better because of President George H.W. Bush’s act love.

With the deepest appreciation now and always,

Kayla Johnson
Lowcountry Down Syndrome Society
912-436-3626
kjohnson@ldssga.org
10701 Abercorn St., #60786
Savannah, GA 31420

100 Women Who Care Donate $3,500-plus to Lowcountry Down Syndrome Society

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(SAVANNAH, GA) The Lowcountry Down Syndrome Society(LDSS) recently received more than $3,500 from 100 Women Who Care of Savannah.

“This generous gift will directly support the 2019 Camp Buddy program,” said LDSSExecutive Director Kayla Johnson. “Each summer, Camp Buddy offers programs to prepare children for the upcoming school year with the goal of promoting information retention from the previous year.”

Lowcountry Down Syndrome Society

(RIGHT) Lois Modell, Executive Director of Savannah Center for Blind and Low Vision, on behalf of the 100 Women Who Care, presented the donation to (LEFT) LDSS Executive Director, Kayla Johnson. The 100 Women Who Care chose LDSS as the recipients of their quarterly gift, which will be used to help fund Camp Buddy 2019.

LDSSis a nonprofit that works to help people with Down syndrome and their families through a variety of efforts.

100 Women Who Care of Savannahincludes women from Savannah and the surrounding areas who are dedicated to making an immediate impact in the community. The group meets four times a year to select one local non-profit organization to receive funding for that quarter.

For more information about LDSS, visit LDSSGA.org. For more information for 100 Women Who Care of Savannah, visit https://facebook.com/100WomenWhoCareInSavannahGa/

MORE ABOUT THE LOWCOUNTRY DOWN SYNDROME SOCIETY
The Lowcountry Down Syndrome Society(LDSS) is a family support group to benefit people with Down syndrome and their families through local leadership, outreach, education, and advocacy to champion and celebrate acceptance and inclusion. Meetings are held every 4th Tuesday of the month, typically with a guest speaker and social time for families to meet and interact with one another. LDSSencourages people to bring their children. LDSSis an affiliate of the National Down Syndrome Society. For more information about LDSS, visit LDSSGA.org. Find LDSSon Twitter at @LowcountryDSS.

CONTACT
Kayla Johnson
Lowcountry Down Syndrome Society
912.436.3626
kjohnson@ldssga.org

MEDIA CONTACT
Marjorie Young
CarriageTrade PR
912-844-9990
marjorie@carriagetradepr.com
www.carriagetradepr.com

Ron Stephens Recognized at The Matthew Reardon Center for Autism Open House at New Center Location

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Ron Stephens Recognized at The Matthew Reardon Center for Autism Open House at New Center Location

(SAVANNAH, GA) The Matthew Reardon Center for Autism (MRCA) announced the selection of Georgia House District 164 Incumbent Republican, Ron Stephens, as the recipient of the 2019 Marie McGaughey Childhood Philanthropy Award at an open house which held at MRCA’s new location on Tuesday, Oct. 30. The award will be officially presented at MRCA’s 2019 Autism Conference on March 1, 2019, at the Savannah Convention Center.

Patti Victor, President and CEO of the Matthew Reardon Center for Autism

“Ron was a natural pick for this award,” said Kim Reardon, founder and Director Emerita of MRCA. “He is always ready to lead the fight for positive change in this community.” President and CEO Patti Victor continues, “Ron has been a consistent and effective advocate for quality healthcare and access to vital support services for children with autism and other developmental challenges.”

After spending five years at MRCA’s previous location, the organization outgrew the facility and had the opportunity to move to an 8,800 sq. foot school building, formerly St. Francis Cabrini Catholic School, which can accommodate up to 40 students and features natural light classrooms and outdoor playgrounds.

The brand new Matthew Reardon Center for Autism

The increase in square footage allowed for new students; MRCA has 27 children currently enrolled, a nearly 125% increase since 2015.

The new building is located at 11500 Middleground Road, Savannah, GA 31419.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1 in 59 children in the USA will be diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This represents an increase of 15 percent over the CDC’s 2014 estimate of 1 in 68.

ABOUT THE MATTHEW REARDON CENTER FOR AUTISM (MRCA):
MRCA operates southeast Georgia’s only accredited year-round day school for children with autism. They have provided advocacy and outreach services to more than 870 families across southeast Georgia and have hosted professional training and instructional opportunities for more than 4,500 family members, educators, health professionals and self-advocates. The organization was incorporated in 2000 and currently serves 27 students through ADVANCE Academy. They have 14 full-time employees and operate in an 8,800 sq foot school building, formerly St. Francis Cabrini Catholic School, located at 11500 Middleground Road, Savannah, GA 31419. Website: http://www.matthewreardon.org/

Matthew Reardon Center for Autism Selects Representative Ron Stephens as Award Recipient

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Matthew Reardon Center for Autism Selects Representative Ron Stephens as Award Recipient

(SAVANNAH, GA) State Representative Ron Stephens was at the Matthew Reardon Center on November 2, 2018 at 9am for the announcement that he is the recipient of the prestigious Marie McGaughey Childhood Philanthropy Award due to his long history serving as a powerful champion for Georgia’s children, particularly those with developmental disabilities like Autism.

(Left to right) MRCA Board Chair, Sue Adler; MRCA President, Patti Victor; St. Francis Cabrini Pastor Fr. Gabe Cummings; State Rep. Ron Stephens

Ron was a natural pick for this award,” said Kim Reardon, founder and Director Emerita of MRCA. “He is always ready to lead the fight for positive change in this community.” President and CEO Patti Victor continues, “Ron has been a consistent and effective advocate for quality healthcare and access to vital support services for children with autism and other developmental challenges.”

The award will be formally presented at the 2019 Autism Conference at the Savannah Convention Center on March 1, 2019.

State Rep. Ron Stephens with MRCA student, Leila Boulware (Students, Darren Lazare and Kevin Parker can be seen in the back).

State Representative Ron Stephens (R-Savannah) represents the 164th District in the Georgia House of Representatives. Ron is the Chairman of the House Economic Development & Tourism Committee and has served in the House for twenty-one years. He is also a member of the Appropriations, Rules, and Ways and Means Committees.

Ron has a long history with the Matthew Reardon Center,” said CEO Patti Victor. “It was very moving to watch him as he toured our wonderful new facility and met and talked with students. Ron was a champion for us when we started 18 years ago in a few clinical rooms, later when we moved to carved-out office space and, now, as we begin a new era of serving southeast Georgia’s autism community in this beautiful school setting. We – our students, families and community – owe great gratitude to the Chatham Legislative Delegation for their ongoing support and to St. Francis Cabrini Catholic Church, host at our new location.”

Representative Stephens is a graduate from Armstrong State & Mercer University with a degree in Pharmacy. He and his wife, Janice, have two daughters, Karen and Ashlin, two grandsons, Walker Reese and James “Beau” William Dukes, IV and one granddaughter, Ivey Carolina.

For these reasons and many others, the Matthew Reardon Center is pleased to announce that Representative Ron Stephens will receive this prestigious award.

ABOUT THE MATTHEW REARDON CENTER FOR AUTISM (MRCA):
MRCA operates southeast Georgia’s only accredited year-round day school for children with autism. They have provided advocacy and outreach services to more than 900 families across southeast Georgia and have hosted professional training and instructional opportunities for more than 4,500 family members, educators, health professionals and self-advocates. The organization was incorporated in 2000 and currently serves 27 students through ADVANCE Academy. They have 14 full-time employees and operate in an 8,800 sq foot school building, formerly St. Francis Cabrini Catholic School, located at 11500 Middleground Road, Savannah, GA 31419. Website: http://www.matthewreardon.org/ (912) 355-9098

Faith Equestrian Therapeutic Center Select Lowcountry Down Syndrome Society’s Joe Marchese and WSAV’s Ariella Scalese as Emcees for the 2018 Hearts for Healing Gala on Feb. 9

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Faith Equestrian Therapeutic Center Select Lowcountry Down Syndrome Society’s Joe Marchese and WSAV’s Ariella Scalese as Emcees for the 2018 Hearts for Healing Gala on Feb. 9

(SAVANNAH, GA) Joe Marchese, immediate past president of the Lowcountry Down Syndrome Society (LDSS) in Savannah, and Ariella Scalese, forecaster for the WSAV Storm Team 3, have been chosen as the emcees for the Hearts for Healing Gala to benefit Faith Equestrian Therapeutic Center. The second annual event will be held on Friday, Feb. 9, at the Tybee Island Wedding Chapel.

Faith Equestrian is a non-profit organization founded to improve the quality of life for children with special needs through therapeutic interaction with horses at the center.

Joe Marchese

Joe Marchese

Marchese, who has years of experience in the differently abled community, will help guide the night’s activities, which include dinner, dancing, a silent auction and live music from the John Brackett Quartet.

“I am humbled and honored to be presented with this opportunity,” said Marchese. “As a founding board member of the Lowcountry Down Syndrome Society, and as a parent of a child with Down Syndrome I have been exposed to the emotional and cognitive challenges faced by children with different abilities and I love what a difference that Faith Equestrian makes in their lives.”

Ariella Scalese

Ariella Scalese

Scalese graduated from Lehigh University, where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Earth and Environmental Science and minored in Mass Communication before coming to Savannah to continue her career in broadcasting. Scalese volunteers for a number of organizations including Faith Equestrian.

“Since moving here in 2016, I made it a goal to find local organizations that I’m passionate about and donating my time to them,” said Scalese. “Faith Equestrian has given me so much more than I could ever give to it, and I’m honored to be named an emcee for their annual gala.”

Faith Equestrian serves children with all types of challenges, including autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, learning disabilities and behavioral disorders. Interaction with the horses allows the students to build strength, develop coordination skills and gain confidence in an outdoor and supportive setting.

Gala Logo

2018 Hearts for Healing Gala

The gala is the center’s largest fundraiser of the year and helps cover the costs for children to participate in the Faith Equestrian program.

Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. for the silent auction; the reception will begin at 7 p.m.

Tickets are $150 and may be purchased at http://www.faithetc.org/hearts-for-healing-gala/.

The 2018 Hearts for Healing Gala is sponsored by Savannah Special Events by Ranco, First City Events, Low Country Paper Co., Whitemarsh Beverage, J Thomas Catering, Savannah’s Hall of Cakes, South Magazine and Tybee Island Wedding Chapel. Sponsorship opportunities are still available.

MORE ABOUT THE LOWCOUNTRY DOWN SYNDROME SOCIETY
The Lowcountry Down Syndrome Society (LDSS) is a family support group to benefit people with Down syndrome and their families through local leadership, outreach, education and advocacy to champion and celebrate acceptance and inclusion. Meetings are held every fourth Tuesday of the month, typically with a guest speaker and social time for families to meet and interact. LDSS encourages people to bring their children to all of their meetings. LDSS is an affiliate of the National Down Syndrome Society. For more information about LDSS, visit http://www.ldssga.org/

ABOUT FAITH EQUESTRIAN THERAPEUTIC CENTER
Faith Equestrian Therapeutic Center, 243 Appaloosa Way in Guyton, GA. 31312, exists to improve the lives of individuals with disabilities through the power of the horse. The program serves children ages 4 to 18 with all types of challenges, including autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, learning disabilities and behavioral disorders. The center offers therapeutic riding courses and an equestrian program in partnership with local schools. For more information, visit https://faithetc.org

MEDIA CONTACT
Cynthia Wright
Carriage Trade PR
cynthia.wright@carriagetradepr.com
912.856.9075

The Matthew Reardon Center’s 2018 Autism Conference Announced for March 2

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The Matthew Reardon Center’s 2018 Autism Conference Announced for March 2

(SAVANNAH, GA) The Matthew Reardon Center for Autism’s third annual autism conference will be held on Friday, March 2, 2018, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Coastal Georgia Center, located at 305 Fahm St. The conference provides learning opportunities for parents and caregivers, educators and individuals on the Autism Spectrum.

The event will include a keynote address and five breakout sessions. Lunch will be provided at 12:30 pm with the keynote address being delivered at that time.

Keynote speaker, Lydia X.Z. Brown, will address the importance of neurodiversity, the concept that neurological differences, like autism and ADHD, are the result of normal, natural variations in the human genome.

Brown is an advocate, organizer and author focused on violence against disabled people in schools, institutions, prisons and law enforcement personnel. A visiting lecturer at Tufts University, Brown designed and teaches a course on disability and inter-sectional social movements. Brown is also a founding board member of the Alliance for Citizen-Directed Supports, which advocates for people with disabilities to have full community integration and control over their services.

“I can’t imagine having a better keynote speaker for the 2018 conference,” said Faye Montgomery, Advocacy Director of the Matthew Reardon Center for Autism. “Lydia is knowledgeable in such a diverse range of topics within the autistic community and will have truly invaluable information to share with our attendees.”

Breakout session speakers and their topics are listed below:

FOR EDUCATORS:

Jennifer Phillips, Director of Professional Learning at Mid-Valley Special Education Cooperative: “Ways to Structure Classroom Environments for Every Student’s Success”

Christy Calbos and Debbie Dobbs, lawyer/advocates: “Top 5 Reasons Parents Hire Educational Advocates and Attorneys and How Savvy Educators can Avoid Complaints”

Lydia X.Z. Brown, advocate, author and visiting lecturer at Tufts University: “Ableism and the Meaningful Inclusion of People with Autism in Educational Settings”

FOR PARENTS AND CAREGIVERS:

Suzette Rosario, BCBA and Director of the May Institute: “Supporting Individuals with Autism when Behavior Creates Challenges”

Rachel Seaman, post-doctoral fellow at the Emory Univ. Autism Center: “Formulating Plans to Support People with Autism in the Transition from High School to Post-Secondary Life”

INDIVIDUALS WITH AUTISM:

Daniel Wendler, author and doctoral candidate in clinical psychology at George Fox University: “Ways to Find a ‘Place of Belonging’ – Exploring Social Skills Development, Friendship and Development of a Personal Community”

Wendler himself was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome in high school and has authored two books, Improve Your Social Skills and its sequel, Level Up your Social Skills.

Early admission tickets to the 2018 Autism Conference are $100; after Jan. 21, tickets will be $125. Continuing education units are an additional $20.

For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit http://www.2018autismconference.com/ or contact Faye Montgomery at 912-355-9098 or fmontgomery@matthewreardon.org

Matthew Reardon Center for Autism Third Annual Autism Conference

Matthew Reardon Center for Autism’s Third Annual Autism Conference

ABOUT THE MATTHEW REARDON CENTER FOR AUTISM (MRCA):
MRCA operates southeast Georgia’s only accredited year-round day school for children with autism. They have provided advocacy and outreach services to more than 800 families across southeast Georgia and have hosted professional training and instructional opportunities for more than 4,000 family members, educators, health professionals and self-advocates. The organization was incorporated in 2000 and currently serves 22 students through ADVANCE Academy. They have 11 full-time employees and operate in a 6,000-square-foot suite at 6602 Abercorn St #200, Savannah, GA 31405. Website: http://www.matthewreardon.org/

CONTACT
Patti T. Victor, President and CEO
The Matthew Reardon Center for Autism, Inc, and Advance Academy
912-355-9098 (office)
912-352-2460 (fax)
pvictor@matthewreardon.org 
http://www.matthewreardon.org

MEDIA CONTACT
Cynthia Wright
Carriage Trade Public Relations
912-856-9075
cynthia.wright@carriagetradepr.com
www.carriagetradepr.com