Partner Highlight: Easterseals Florida

Partner Highlight: Easterseals Florida

May 28, 2018

If you’re an individual with a disability or who has a child with a disability, you should know about Easterseals Florida. While most people have heard of us, not everyone realizes that we are a nonprofit agency that provides services along the lifespan of those with disabilities, as well as programming across the state.

Our diverse client list includes individuals with physical, intellectual and developmental disabilities; the entire autism spectrum; senior citizens; veterans; people with memory impairment; even children who are not yet diagnosed. We offer such an extensive list of services that it would be impossible to list them all, but here’s an introduction to a few core programs:

Early childhood. At Easterseals, we know that “The First Five Counts.” We can help you assess whether your child is meeting milestones in key growth areas: relationships, exploring and learning, communication, playing, and moving. We can also give you tools to enrich your child’s growth in these areas before they enter kindergarten. Every year, more than a million children enter school with an undiagnosed developmental delay, and Easterseals wants to change that. Our Child Development Centers and our Early Steps programs can help.

From school age to adulthood. Easterseals Camp Challenge, located in the central Florida community of Sorrento, gives our campers the chance to experience 61 acres of barrier-free recreation. All activities are completely accessible, from the swimming pool to the petting farm — even rock wall climbing and zip lining.  With the help of adaptive equipment, Easterseals can help anyone at all ability levels explore the great outdoors and push past preconceived limits.

In addition to our camp, we also have Easterseals Academy, a private school providing specialized programming for people ages 11 to 22. With a strong focus on employability skills training and functional academics, students are immersed in our community for optimal learning and development.

Adults. Easterseals is all about helping clients succeed in the workforce! Sometimes, it starts with exploration of possible careers and some personal inventory-taking. As we regularly take clients into the community, they have the opportunity to develop skills through internships and on-the job training. Building resume writing skills and filling out online applications are leading to work. When clients start work, we go to the workplace to help ensure they know how to do their job and even help their co-workers work with them.

And it’s not just working, it’s living: Easterseals helps clients learn to navigate public transportation, grocery shopping, banking, even laundry. We learn how to dance and go to movies, the theater and museums. We want everyone to enjoy life at the highest level they’re able.

Seniors. We offer adult day health care services, serving seniors and all adults ages 18 and up with a disability or special need. Clients may have memory impairment, Alzheimer’s, dementia, Parkinson’s, stroke damage, traumatic brain injury, etc. A full day of multi-sensory activities are provided. Staff are trained facilitators in several arts and wellness programs, allowing our members to express themselves creatively through the arts and have a lot of fun! We are proud to also serve many veterans. Adult day health care allows families to stay united and can be a true alternative to nursing home placement. Families also get some much-needed respite.

Respite. Easterseals Military Respite programs provides respite to Air Force and Navy services members that have a child with a disability, at both MacDill Air Force base in Tampa and Patrick Air Force base in Cocoa Beach. This program allows service member families to take care of errands or other needs knowing their child with a disability is being cared for by trained Easterseals care providers.

More than one million people benefit from Easterseals services nationwide – and we’re proud to be doing our part. While we’ve been around for nearly 100 years, I can tell you my very favorite part of my job is imagining fresh ways to continue meeting the needs of our clients – and that’s why we are proud to be partnering with ABLE United in helping individuals with disabilities achieve a better life experience.

Suzanne Caporina is senior vice president of innovation and impact for Easterseals Florida.