Posts Tagged ‘Special Needs’

Monday Minute: Fools (Prefer) Gold

Happy belated St. Patrick’s Day! As the legend goes (according to “The Leprechaun Trap” with some embellishments by yours truly), leprechauns sneak into Irish homes to cause mischief so traps must be set to catch them. When a leprechaun inevitably yet narrowly escapes the trap he drops some of his gold, then continues to lose it in a random fashion all over the house as he frantically tries to escape. The children must collect the gold and if they put it under their pillows it will turn into chocolate the next morning.

Now you’re all caught up on where we were this morning when I went in to wake James up. Read more…

Advocates For Children of New York: School Info and Education Assistance for NYC Families

February 24, 2013 Leave a comment

Click here to see my review of Advocates for Children, the latest entry in my series of posts on Mommy Poppins about resources/agencies for special needs children.

Monday Minute: Holiday Hangover

November 27, 2012 Leave a comment

After a packed holiday weekend, I was surprised when James joined me in the kitchen Monday morning at 5:45am, dressed and ready.

Or so I thought.

Read more…

Special Needs News; Week of 11/20/11

November 23, 2011 Leave a comment

Tween/Teen Social Lounge on Sundays!

October 30, 2011 Leave a comment

I stumbled across a flyer for “Tween/Teen Lounge – a place to hang out and chat with others” last week and didn’t initially give it much thought. It didn’t scream “special needs friendly” and advertised snacks and activities like watching a movie or playing Wii. All things my son James loves, but he still can’t get by on his own in a group of typically developing pre-teens. What I missed is that The Center for Special Needs at JCC is sponsoring the monthly social hangout and that it is in fact geared towards tweens and teens with special needs.

It gets better. The social lounge is a drop-off program every second Sunday of the month, from 2:30-4:30. I know, drop-off is such a teasing word. Such luxury to be able to escape for a little while, yet in the special needs world drop-off (and luxury) can seem impossible. Look, I’m nervous about drop-off too, but don’t let that scare you away. There will be staff members and volunteers present to help facilitate social interaction and monitor things, and parents also fill out a form prior to coming so that staff has a sense of each child and what to look out for.

The social lounge is only $25, which would be a pretty typical amount of money to hand to James were he going off for a bite to eat and a movie with his friends. You can stay at the JCC ( large lobby/cafe) to wait or here’s an idea, go grab a bite with your peers in the neighborhood.

Because of the anticipated popularity, pre-registration is highly encouraged. Space is also limited in order to accommodate for special needs. You can call or email Melissa Lader at 646-505-5729 or – she has always been incredibly responsive and helpful every time (and there have been many) I’ve contacted her with a question.

I plan to bring James to this starting in December. If you’re thinking about sending your son/daughter to the social lounge but are on the fence for one reason or another,  I can at least promise you that they will have a peer to talk to (see Monday Minute series if you don’t believe me). James is one of the friendliest, unassuming, open children I know (and I wouldn’t say that about all of my children) so your child is assured of at least one friend if they come!

More Free Accessible Sports Brought To You By The NYC Parks Dept – There Is Still Time To Join This Summer!

I’m taking James to his first day of adaptive swim lessons tomorrow (see The Murky Waters) – we’ve decided to stay in the familiar waters of Highbridge Pool, uptown. I had planned on taking him to both the Tuesday and Thursday lessons until I started reading about some of the other special needs sports programs offered by the NYC Parks department.

Many thanks to Victor Calise, the NYC Parks Accessibility Coordinator, who has generously and patiently provided me with the information below (while also fielding my numerous emails regarding adaptive swim lessons).

Adaptive Tennis

Prospect Park has an adaptive tennis program for all disabilities and runs from October-May, you can call them at 718.436.2500.

The USTA has adaptive tennis for people with physical disabilities that runs about the same time.

Adaptive Track & Field

There is an adaptive track & field program for kids ages 5-16 with physical disabilities, offered in two locations. In Manhattan practice takes place at Thomas Jefferson Park on Tuesday and Thursdays, and in the Bronx at Pelham Bay Park on Monday and Wednesdays. Both parks start the week of July 11th – just show up and register on site. Ages 5-7 meet 9:30-10:30 and ages 8-16 meet from 10:30-noon. All equipment is provided. And, it’s free! Please click for more information.

So now I need to decide whether to take James to swimming two days a week or use one of those days to try the Track & Field program this summer. I want to push swimming since he has finally started putting his head underwater but would also like for him to try something new.

In any case, I’ll be all set if this is my biggest problem this summer.

Achilles International – Racing, Running, Walking, Rolling, Biking, Kayaking and Other Fun Exercise For All Ages and Abilities

Activities that combine fun and exercise for James are always appealing to me. One thing that stands out about Achilles is that family members, including non-disabled siblings, can join in, too. Below are some excerpts from their website about the running, tandem and Achilles Kids programs in NYC, though I encourage you to visit to find out more about their wounded vets, marathon and kayaking programs. I would love for those of you who are already involved with this organization to leave your personal experiences in the comments section!


Achilles International is a non-profit organization that has chapters and members in over 70 countries. Every day, in parks, gyms, and tracks all over the world, Achilles provides athletes with disabilities with a community of support. Able-bodied volunteers and disabled runners come together to train in an environment of support and community. Within this community, runners gain measurable physical strength and build confidence through their sense of accomplishment, which often transfers to other parts of their life.

Over the years, Achilles has also developed specialized programs for children and war veterans. Achilles Kids provides training, racing opportunities, and an in-school program for children with disabilities, while our Freedom Team of Wounded Veterans program brings running programs and marathon opportunities to disabled veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

While our programs focus on athletics, the truth is, sports are simply the tool for accomplishing our main objective: to bring hope, inspiration and the joys of achievement to people with disabilities. Nothing illustrates this more than our signature event, the Hope and Possibility Five-Miler. In this race, able-bodied and disabled athletes participate side-by-side and, with several  disabled award categories, it puts a first place win within the grasp of all runners.

Running – Achilles Track Club

The Achilles Track Club is an international non-profit organization whose mission is to encourage people with disabilities to participate in the sport of distance running. ATC provides support, training, and technical expertise to people at all levels and with a variety of disabilities. Founded in 1983 in New York City, ATC now has 35 chapters in the United States and more than 100 chapters internationally.

ATC members affirm their ability—not disability—by participating with able-bodied athletes. ATC encourages and supports athletes regardless of speed or capability.

People with any physical disability are eligible to join ATC. Some members use crutches; others participate in wheelchairs. Some are experienced athletes; others are exercising for the first time. No previous athletic experience is required. Members are encouraged to participate in races.

ATC membership is free and includes racing fees, coaching, workouts, ATC team T-shirts, and a newsletter, The Achilles Heel.

Informal workouts are held at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and 10:00 a.m. on Saturdays when there are no NYRR races. Participants meet at NYRR, 9 East 89th Street, New York City, and work out in Central Park.

Volunteers are needed to assist ATC members at workouts and to serve as guides in NYRR races, including the ING New York City Marathon. Volunteers are matched with ATC members of similar pace and ability.

For more information about volunteering, membership, or starting a new ATC chapter, please call 212.354.0300.

Achilles Kids is a FREE running/walking/rolling program for children with all types of disabilities (and their non-disabled siblings), ages 2-21. Our aim is to promote the joy of running/walking/rolling and to encourage all kids to participate at whatever level they can. Our emphasis is on FUN and all we ask is that the kids do their best.

Achilles Kids Workouts are held year-round – during the warmer months, in Central Park, and in the winter we meet indoors at a gym on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

Children are paired with volunteers who run/walk with them and provide training assistance, encouragement and support. In addition to doing laps and training for races, we also have time for “free play” which makes our workouts FUN. There has been DRAMATIC improvement in the majority of the children over the past few years. Children who could not run/walk 50 yds are now doing a mile or in many cases, much more (in several cases TEN MILES!) and in all cases, doing much more than they ever thought possible. In addition to the obvious improvement in their health and fitness levels, the children have received an incredible boost to their self-confidence and self-esteem which can have a far-reaching impact in their lives.

Contact Persons
Tricia Graf, Program Coordinator
(212) 354-0300
Karen Lewis
(212) 354-0300


Tandem Program

For 25 years, the Achilles Track Club has provided disabled athletes with opportunities to engage in healthy athletic competitions and events throughout the city. The Achilles Tandem Bike Program expands on the programs that Achilles offers and serves as a forum where disabled athletes can learn the skills needed to participate in quintessential New York events such as the Five Boro Bike Tour. Tandem cycling is a wonderful way for people with disabilities to exercise, have fun and bond with able-bodied friends or loved ones.

The Achilles Tandem Bike Program was inspired by Artie Elefant, a 63-year-old Achilles athlete who lost most of his vision due to retinitis pigmentosa over twenty years ago and was diagnosed with chronic lymphoncytic leukemia. In spite of these obstacles, Artie continues to train and compete in various endurance events, including marathons, triathlons, and bike tours with the assistance of volunteer guides from Achilles.

“I am a visually challenged 63 year old male, but nearly 20 years ago my loss of vision forced me to stop riding my bike,” said Artie. “Thanks to the Achilles Track Club’s Tandem Bike Program, I am back on the road again enjoying the feel of the wind in my face and the open road. I am now able to create an entirely new set of memories and experiences, which is why tandem biking can be so great for a visually challenged person such as myself or any other person with adaptive sports needs.

There really isn’t anything as rewarding as feeling the terrain of the road and the smell and sounds of the world as you ride through it. These are feelings that I have only recently rediscovered through the joys of tandem biking.”

Achilles owns 10 tandem bicycles which are stored in Central Park, and its program of bi-weekly rides will be available for Achilles members of all ages, fitness levels, and abilities. If you are interested in trying a tandem as an Achilles Member or as a guide, please contact Anthony Green


Next weekend Achilles International is holding a Hope and Possibility 5M race in Central Park (details below):

9th Annual Hope & Possibility is set for Sunday, June 26, 2011 in Central Park

Wheelers Start: 8:50a.m. – Open Start: 9a.m. – Kids Fun Run Start: 10:30a.m.


Our signature event, a five-mile race for able-bodied and athletes with disabilities, is held annually with great joy in New York City’s Central Park. It is the largest of its kind. In 2010, special guests Prince Harry, Cindy and Meghan McCain, Governor Paterson, and Heather Mills joined Achilles athletes, volunteers, supporters, and spectators in this celebration of the human spirit.

Your bib will get you a 20% discount off running gear at Urban Athletics on Madison Avenue.

Achilles looks forward to making the upcoming 9th Annual Hope & Possibility the most memorable one yet. Proceeds support Achilles International programs.

Please help us spread the word. This 2011 Hope & Possibility flyer can be attached to an email message and sent to your contacts or printed out and posted to community bulletin boards.

Hope & Possibility 5-Mile Award Categories

Pushrim Wheelchair (P)
Power Chair (R)
Ambulatory Disabled (M)
Visually Impaired (V)
Other (X)
Above-knee amputee (A)
Below-knee amputee (B)
Double amputee (D)

All of the above categories receive awards for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place Male and Female finishers. Power Chair participant awards are for place only (no gender awards).

Prize Money

Prize money is awarded to 1st place Male and Female winners in each category, provided there are seven participants in the category. One Power Chair prize for 1st place – male or female, provided there are seven Power Chair participants.

See Photos Press from last year’s Hope & Possibility event.

Hope & Possibility Kids Fun Run

Kids ages 2 – 16 years of age can run, walk, or wheel a 100 yd, 200 yd or 400 yd dash. OR if you are over 10, you can run/walk the 5 mile race with a parent. Stay for FUN post-race activities!

Medals for ALL finishers; free race day t-shirt for all participants (while supplies last).

To Register for the FREE Kids Fun Run, download the application, fill it out (don’t forget to sign it!) and return it to:

Achilles Kids
42 W. 38th Street, 4th Floor
New York, NY 10018

Or fax it to us at 212. 354.3978.
For more information, please call 212.354.0300.
Hope to see you there!’s first survey is here!

I would be very grateful if you would take my first ever survey – it is on the right sidebar under Click Here.

It will help me to decide which directions to pursue first as this site grows, and will hopefully help you in the process!

Your input is extremely valuable to me, and anonymous – please answer what questions you can and spread the word to others in the special needs community. Thanks in advance for your time and effort!

PS – There will also be a weekly poll to the right – after you vote you can see the results. Polls will often be related to a recent or upcoming post.

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