Celebrate the Children School
April is Autism Awareness Month.
It's a month filled with celebrations - families and communities coming together across the globe to shed a light on autism and promote acceptance. For Celebrate the Children, a school for children and young adults with autism and other special needs, this year is no different.
It’s no secret the past few weeks have introduced a huge change for all of us.
The global pandemic has left schools and auditoriums empty, but that hasn’t stopped Celebrate the Children. In celebration of World Autism Awareness Day on Thursday, April 2nd, the school teamed up with three-time, Grammy-nominated, children’s music artist, Brady Rymer and the Little Band that Could, to host their annual Light It Up Blue concert on Facebook Live – straight from Brady Rymer’s living room. The virtual concert reached nearly 20,000 people from around the world. Students, families, staff members, and friends joined in on the celebration and danced around their homes to some of their favorite tunes. Many of the songs were from the Love Me For Who I Am soundtrack – an album inspired by the students at Celebrate the Children school, celebrating diversity in children with all abilities.
“I look forward to the Light It Up Blue concert at Celebrate the Children every April - students, teachers, moms, and dads all having a blast dancing and singing together in the school’s gym. We’ve been doing it for many years and it’s become a fun and special tradition for all. We knew we had to make it happen this year, no matter what. The school did an amazing job connecting the community online, and as I was live streaming alone from my living room 150 miles away, I felt close and connected like we were all lighting it up blue in the gym like we usually do. It was a Light It Up Blue concert we’ll always remember!” - Brady Rymer, Brady Rymer and the Little Band That Could
During a time when everyone is so separated, the CTC community has never felt more connected.
Celebrate the Children staff members continue to provide essential services that support the social-emotional and educational needs of all of their students. Students still enjoy school-wide events, social gatherings, and learning with their peers, teachers, and support staff from the safety of their own homes.
"Distance Learning has been a new experience for all of us! Most importantly, I have been making sure to allow students and families time online to maintain and strengthen relationships. We do this by setting up small group "hangouts" for students to see one another and socialize. For me, this has been the most rewarding part! Seeing the "gleam" in a student’s eyes when seeing their friends or staff members has been such a great motivator to stay positive during this crazy time!" - Amy Keveanos, Teacher, Celebrate the Children
“You never know how people are going to respond in times of crisis. We like to think we are prepared, but we never know until it really happens. I couldn’t be more proud of and impressed by the way our school community has responded to this crisis. When the call to close first came down, there was an audible gasp from teachers who had never taught online, students who wanted to come to school, and parents who were being asked to be educational facilitators. By the end of the first week, Teachers were teaching, students were learning, and our parents stepped up to support the process. No matter how long this crisis lasts, I am confident that the process will continue to get easier, the content will continue to become richer, and the entire school community will continue to impress me and make me proud.” - Randy Rossilli, Jr., Principal, Celebrate the Children
Celebrate the Children is currently delivering their sensory-motor, experienced-based curriculum via their newly developed online distance learning module, which includes live video meetings and chatting threads throughout the day. The school continues to evolve the model as they assess the needs of their students and families. All students have been equipped with electronic devices that allow for full participation in the program and the school has received an overwhelmingly positive response to its online learning environment.
“Celebrate The Children has been committed to using technology not only to educate our Children but to maintain those relationships that ground our children and give them security. Showing our kids each day that they can still learn, and spend quality time with the peers and professionals that were a part of their lives on campus is crucial to our kids being able to understand that people do not disappear when circumstances change and even become scary and unpredictable.” - Abby Rafkin, Parent, Celebrate the Children
"We have all been students during this remote learning period. Administrators, teachers, parents, and students have all learned new and unique ways to deliver and receive instruction and have risen to this challenge in amazing ways. While our typical instruction has continued in a new format, this has also been an opportunity to really showcase the value of relationships, the importance of everyone working together for the greater good, and an appreciation for many things previously taken for granted. The positive life lessons experienced during this unprecedented time may be the most important instruction of all." - Cathy Helmlinger, Director, Celebrate the Children
We're here to help.
Celebrate the Children is committed to continuing to provide support to their students, families, and community during this difficult and uncertain time. The school has shared a variety of resources and virtual events on their social media and resource sites for families caring for children and individuals with autism and other special needs since the school’s closure. Explore Celebrate the Children’s website and visit their Facebook page to see what they’re up to and to join in on the fun.
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Contributions to this blog are made by Celebrate the Children's highly talented, interdisciplinary team and wonderful families.