14th Annual Buddy Walk Returns to Forsyth Park on Oct. 5

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(SAVANNAH, GA) The Lowcountry Down Syndrome Society will hold its 14th annual Buddy Walk on Saturday, Oct. 5, in Savannah’s Forsyth Park.

 

LOWCOUNTRY DOWN SYNDROME SOCIETY

 

The Lowcountry Down Syndrome Society hosts the event each year to draw attention to the strength and needs of individuals with Down Syndrome and to offer families a fun and inclusive outdoor activity. This year’s event has a fundraising goal of $50,000.

 

Expect lots of feet on the ground, along with wheelchairs, carriages and strollers. The event has drawn thousands of attendees each year. This year Sheriff Wilcher will be the Grand Marshall for the event.

 

This marks the second year that healthy lifestyles will be a particular focus of the Buddy Walk, and the Lowcountry Down Syndrome Society has once again partnered with Healthy Savannah. Children with Down syndrome face an increased risk for obesity due in part to the syndrome but also to common environmental factors. With that in mind, nutritious lunch options and additional health education will be provided during the event.

 

A festival will follow the walk, complete with face painting, pumpkin painting, bouncy houses, games, music, refreshments and other entertainment.

 

Individual registration is $15, and alternative pricing is offered for families of different sizes. One new feature this year is encouraging families to form teams using the Lowcountry Down Syndrome Society’s website, ldssga.org.

 

“Families from throughout the region look forward to the Buddy Walk each October,” said Whitney Lowery, executive director of LDSS. “Coming together in October, which is National Down Syndrome Awareness Month, allows us to not only enjoy fellowship but helps us in our primary goal of promoting changes in local and national policies regarding Down syndrome.”

 

For more information visit ldssga.org or email buddywalk@ldss.org

 

ABOUT THE LOWCOUNTRY DOWN SYNDROME SOCIETY
The Lowcountry Down Syndrome Society (LDSS) supports people with Down syndrome and their families through local leadership, support, outreach, education and advocacy. 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 the whole family to attend; children of all ages are welcome. LDSS is an affiliate of the National Down Syndrome Society. For more information about LDSS, visit ldssga.org

 

CONTACT
Whitney Lowery
Lowcountry Down Syndrome Society
wlowery@ldssga.org

Lowcountry Down Syndrome Society Calls for 2019 Night of Champions Nominations

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Lowcountry Down Syndrome Society Calls for 2019 Night of Champions Nominations

(SAVANNAH, GA) The Lowcountry Down Syndrome Society(LDSS) is asking for nominations for its 10th Annual Night of Championscelebration scheduled for May 9.

Low Country Down Syndrome Society Night of Champions Logo

The event recognizes employees with different abilities in the Savannah area who excel in their workplace and their employers who have come to understand the value and importance of inclusive employment.

Night of Championscelebrates employees and their employers whose dedication and leadership shine a light on the possibilities and benefits of inclusive communities and work spaces,” said Night of Championschairperson Tom Kenkel.

Employee nominations may be submitted online at https://nightofchampions.org/nominations/until Friday, March 29.

Selected employees and their employers will be invited as special guests to the Night of Championsdinner that will take place at 6 p.m. on Thursday, May 9, at the Savannah Civic Center.

Last year’s honorees included Elissa Brown, Kroger; Caroline Campbell, Zaxby’s; Herbert Hudson, Back in the Day Bakery; Marquis Smith, SCAD’s Byte Cafe; Jabari Tukes, Pooler Karate; Iyaona Weathers, Grainger Honda & Nissan.

In addition to dinner, the evening will include a recognition ceremony, a silent auction and a cash bar, with Jamie Deen & Allyson Harvin serving as the night’s emcee. This year’s key note speakers are John & Mark Cronin, owners of John’s Crazy Socks. Amy Wright, the owner of Bitty & Beau’s Coffee, is this year’s President’s Award Winner. Business professional attire is requested.

Individual tickets are $50; tables of ten can be reserved for $500 at nightofchampions.org. Sponsorship opportunities are also available and offer a range of benefits. For more information, call 912-436-3626.

ABOUT THE LOWCOUNTRY DOWN SYNDROME SOCIETY
The Lowcountry Down Syndrome Society(LDSS) supports people with Down syndrome and their families through local leadership, support, outreach, education and advocacy. Meetings are held every fourth Tuesday of the month, typically with a guest speaker and social time for families to meet and interact. LDSSencourages the whole family to attend; children of all ages are welcome. LDSSis an affiliate of the National Down Syndrome Society. For more information about LDSS, visit ldssga.org

CONTACT
Kayla Johnson
Executive Director
kjohnson@ldssga.org
912-436-3626

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

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

13th Annual Buddy Walk Hosted by the Lowcountry Down Syndrome Society Returns with a Healthy Twist on October 6

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13th Annual Buddy Walk Hosted by the Lowcountry Down Syndrome Society Returns with a Healthy Twist on October 6

(SAVANNAH, GA) The Lowcountry Down Syndrome Society(LDSS) held their 13th annual Buddy Walk on Saturday, Oct. 6, in Forsyth Park.

Individuals of all ages and abilities — and their pets — were invited, especially those in wheelchairs, carriages and strollers.

LDSSofficials said they drew more than 5,000 people to this year’s walk to support individuals with Down syndrome and their families.

LOWCOUNTRY DOWN SYNDROME SOCIETY

LOWCOUNTRY DOWN SYNDROME SOCIETY

LOWCOUNTRY DOWN SYNDROME SOCIETY

LOWCOUNTRY DOWN SYNDROME SOCIETY

LOWCOUNTRY DOWN SYNDROME SOCIETY

LOWCOUNTRY DOWN SYNDROME SOCIETY

LOWCOUNTRY DOWN SYNDROME SOCIETY

“We hold the Buddy Walk every year in October as part of National Down Syndrome Awareness month,” said Tom Kenkel, president of LDSS. “Our primary goal, however, is to make positive changes in local and national policies regarding Down syndrome. This event does a phenomenal job of helping us do just that.”

A new element this year was a focus on healthy lifestyles, Kenkel said.

According to research studies in the US Library of Medicine, children with Down syndrome are at an increased risk for obesity. This could be due in part to physiological expressions of Down syndrome but also to common environmental factors.

With that in mind, LDSS, with participation from Healthy Savannah, Coca Cola, NLAWS Produce and EmployAbility, provided more nutritious lunch options and additional health education during the event.

“We are taking small steps to eventually host the first Buddy Walk in the country that brings attention to healthy lifestyles as part of the event,” Kenkel said.

A festival followed the walk featured face painting, pumpkin painting, the BOO Boutique, bouncy houses, games, music, refreshments and the Border Pawtrol disc dog team.

Sponsors of the 2018 Buddy Walk include NLaws Produce, Joe Marchese Construction, Marlow Elementary School, Coca-Cola and Holton Plumbing.

For more information on the Buddy Walk, contact Candy Bogardus at 912-436-3626, buddywalk@ldssga.orgor visit www.ldssga.org.

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 with one another. LDSSencourages people to bring their children. LDSSis an affiliate of the National Down Syndrome Society. For more information about LDSS, visit http://www.ldssga.org/

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

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

13th Annual Buddy Walk Hosted by the Lowcountry Down Syndrome Society Returns with a Healthy Twist on October 6

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13th Annual Buddy Walk Hosted by the Lowcountry Down Syndrome Society Returns with a Healthy Twist on October 6

(SAVANNAH, GA) The Lowcountry Down Syndrome Society (LDSS) will host their 13th annual Buddy Walk on Saturday, Oct. 6, in Forsyth Park.

Families of Lowcountry Down Syndrome Society under the arch during the Buddy Walk in Savannah

Families of Lowcountry Down Syndrome Society under the arch during the Buddy Walk in Savannah

Individuals of all ages and abilities — and their pets — are invited, especially those in wheelchairs, carriages and strollers.

Last year’s event drew more than 5,000 people, and LDSS officials said they hope to attract even more to this year’s walk to support individuals with Down syndrome and their families.

“We hold the Buddy Walk every year in October as part of National Down Syndrome Awareness month,” said Tom Kenkel, president of LDSS. “Our primary goal, however, is to make positive changes in local and national policies regarding Down syndrome. This event does a phenomenal job of helping us do just that.”

A new element this year will be a focus on healthy lifestyles, Kenkel said.

According to research studies in the US Library of Medicine, children with Down syndrome are at an increased risk for obesity. This could be due in part to physiological expressions of Down syndrome but also to common environmental factors.

With that in mind, LDSS, with participation from Healthy Savannah, Coca Cola, NLAWS Produce and EmployAbility, will provide more nutritious lunch options and additional health education during the event.

“We are taking small steps to eventually host the first Buddy Walk in the country that brings attention to healthy lifestyles as part of the event,” Kenkel said.

A festival following the walk will feature face painting, pumpkin painting, the BOO Boutique, bouncy houses, games, music, refreshments and the Border Pawtrol disc dog team.

The walk begins at 10:00 a.m., and the festivities will conclude at 2:00 p.m.

Tickets for the walk will be $15 apiece or $50 for a family of four. Registration includes a T-shirt, lunch and admission to the family fun festival.

Sponsors of the 2018 Buddy Walk include NLaws Produce, Joe Marchese Construction, Marlow Elementary School, Coca-Cola and Holton Plumbing. Sponsorship opportunities are still available. Information booths can be reserved for any organization that provides services for the differently abled community.

For more information on the Buddy Walk, contact Candy Bogardus at 912-436-3626, buddywalk@ldssga.org or visit www.ldssga.org to register online.

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 with one another. LDSS encourages people to bring their children. LDSS is an affiliate of the National Down Syndrome Society. For more information about LDSS, visit http://www.ldssga.org/

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

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