World Kindness Day!

Kindness – a universal language that binds people together regardless of race, religion, gender, political affiliation, and location. November 13th is World Kindness Day! World Kindness Day is an international holiday which was founded in 1998 and is celebrated around the world each year. This special day promotes the importance of being kind to others, yourself, and the world. The purpose of this movement is to highlight good deeds in the community focusing on the positive power! Let’s help everyone understand that compassion for others has the power to bridge the gaps!

Today, more than ever, the world can use a little more kindness especially in the Autism and disabled community. As mentioned last month, those with disabilities are two to three times more likely to experience bullying or negativity. The HDS Foundation wants to create change through spreading kindness, radiating positivity, and giving teens with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) confidence as we mentor, guide, and support them towards independence. Through our programs and initiatives, we are building productive, meaningful, and independent lives. The HDS Foundation remains committed to rise up by lifting others!

How did World Kindness Day Start?
It was first introduced in 1998 by the World Kindness Movement. This organization was formed at a Tokyo conference in 1997 when Japan brought kindness organizations of multiple nations together and emphasized the necessity of a global kindness movement.

What is the purpose?
It serves as a reminder to all that simple acts of kindness have power and that together, we can all work to create a kinder world. Every kind act, even the smallest one, creates a ripple effect you can’t begin to imagine.

How do YOU celebrate?
Individuals are encouraged to go out of their way to be kind to others, whether that is at home, work, or out in public. Be sure to let others around you know how much you appreciate their kindness and generosity.

Simple ways to be kind:

  • Write positive messages on post-its and leave them for people to find
  • Call a relative or friend you have not spoken to in a while
  • Pick up trash you see on the ground outside and throw it in the garbage
  • Hold the door open for someone
  • Pay for a stranger’s coffee or meal
  • Compliment someone
  • Surprise someone with flowers
  • Offer to help with someone’s errands

THE LIST IS ENDLESS! The small things are usually what makes a big impact on others. On November 13th, share your act of kindness!

For more information on World Kindness Day, click here!



If You Don’t Know the Sender, It Might Be a Pretender!

If You Don’t Know the Sender, It Might Be a Pretender!

Today the B.R.I.D.G.E.S. class participated in a workshop hosted by Luke Wilson with Family Network on Disabilities. Since the pandemic, teens have spent an extraordinaire amount of time on their phones, computers, and tablets, either doing virtual school or socializing with their friends Facilitators, Kathy Gorman-Gard, and Donna Mansolillo chose Cyber Safety and Cyber Bullying as the topics to be addressed with the students due to teens being quarantined and not having face to face schooling or gatherings with friends. 

Luke discussed with the students what cyber safety was and how important it is to make sure to keep yourself safe online.  He also gave the students tips on what to do if they experience cyber bullying. Specific topics such as: Identity Theft, Email Safety, Social Media, and Appropriate Screen Names were also discussed.  

The students all participated in the discussions and asked great questions. Ethan asked, “What do you do when someone is cyber bullying you and tries to twist the situation around to make it look like you were the bully?” Luke reminded him that you should take a screen shot of what the person said and share with a trusted adult.  

Samuit asked,” What is the most likely reason that an adult would want to get your personal information?”  This question prompted a discussion about predators and why they prey on kids and teens online. Luke stressed to the students the importance of NOT sharing any personal information with strangers. 

Lastly, Luke showed the students a short video, “5 Ways to Make a Positive Footprint”. This video recapped what the students had learned and discussed about Cyber Safety and Cyber Bullying. Students used their resources, development, growth, and empowerment skills to learn about the necessary precautions they need to keep themselves safe while online.  

HDS Foundation, would like to thank Luke Wilson with Family Network on Disabilities for presenting to the B.R.I.D.G.E.Sstudents! We look forward to Luke sharing many more important topics to with the students. 


B.R.I.D.G.E.S. Has a Fang-tastic Halloween!

B.R.I.D.G.E.S. Has a Fang-tastic Halloween!

The B.R.I.D.G.E.S students let the ghoul times roll this past Friday evening celebrating Halloween as they dressed up in costumes and decorated their parent’s car with spiders, ghosts, and goblins. To add to the spooky fun, we also had balloons, candy, and music! Facilitators Donna Mansolillo and Kathy Gorman-Gard, Intern Caesar Falcon, and HDS Foundation Program Manager Liz Falk all participated in the event to make it a fun evening for the students. This year trick or treating took a different turn. Students drove through the bus loop at Cypress Bay where they stopped at four different stations and teachers came up to the car window to give their treats.

Prior to coming by to the school, students were given the fun task to be resourceful in figuring out how to decorate their car. Depending on their costume, many decided to keep the theme as they decorated their car. Vincent dressed up as Darth Vader and had Star Wars car decals all over the sides. On the back of the car he wrote, “May the Force Be with You”. Many of the other students decorated the cars with the traditional spooky decorations.

This event was yet another great opportunity for the B.R.I.D.G.E.S. students to show off their creativity! Lots of smiles were shared this fun evening! The students were delighted to be able to celebrate Halloween with their friends in a safe, yet fun way.


Where There’s a Whisk, There’s a Way!

Where There’s a Whisk, There’s a Way!

The HDS Foundation B.R.I.D.G.E.S. Program is always keeping things fun and exciting when it comes to our Community Based Instruction (CBI) activities. Now that we have been virtual, it’s important to keep our mission alive guiding the students to independent living while also keeping students engaged online. Today, the class participated in a virtual baking CBI where they created their own Cake in a Mug!

In order for students to be fully prepared for this activity, Facilitators Ms. Donna Mansolillo and Kathy Gormin-Gard separated individual bags that included the supplies and recipe for each student. The students drove by Cypress Bay High School and picked up their supplies last week.

When we all gathered online today, the facilitators made sure everyone had their supplies by holding up each item in the camera. Once that was confirmed, Ms. Donna started instructing the steps of the recipe. There were two different recipes: one for a chocolate mug cake and one for a vanilla mug cake. The students learned about the different measurements of a tablespoon (tbl) vs. teaspoon (tsp) and how important it was for them to make sure which was the right one! Students followed along exactly how they were supposed to. They were awesome listeners. It was intriguing to see how students were so particular when it came to the way they had to measure the ingredients. Ms. Mansolillo used cooking terms like “heaping” and “leveled” for students to understand whether it was too much or too little. I think students were being this careful because she had mentioned that if they didn’t put the right amount of each ingredient, their cake wouldn’t turn out the way it was supposed to.

As students finished adding the ingredients into the cup, and put their cup in the microwave, you can see the excitement on their face waiting to see how it would turn out. As they reached inside the microwave carefully picking up the mug, they caught a whiff of the delicious dessert. They immediately showed it on camera to confirm it was the way it was supposed to turn out. To top it all off, students added frosting and toppings of their choosing. At first, students were skeptical to try their cake in a mug. They even asked if it was edible! Once Ms. Mansolillo gave the “okay”, the class devoured their mini cake and enjoyed every single bite. At this point, they learned that even if the appearance didn’t look that great, it still tasted delicious!

Stay tuned for our next adventure! We will be posting our Halloween drive by experience soon! As always, it is super amazing to see the growth of the students throughout the year and through each CBI activity.


DMF Block Party Recap

DMF Block Party Recap

Each year at HDS Companies, we recognize April as National Autism Awareness Month by supporting the Autism Community throughout the State of Florida. This year during the month we supported several very worthy causes and initiatives by the Miami-Dade County Mayor and...