From May 2nd through May 4th, the HDS Foundation (HDSF) will partake in Visions XXV, the annual transition conference held by the Florida Division on Career Development & Transition (FDCDT). The purpose of the FDCDT is to assist individuals with exceptionalities in their career development, helping them move from school into the workforce and community living. This year will also be a celebration of 25 years of the FDCDT. At the conference it is a goal of the HDSF to gather more information on the transitioning process.
There are currently services available for those affected with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and for those only affected by developmental disabilities (DD). It is another goal of the HDSF at the Transitions conference to find out why there seem to be more programs and services for those affected by IDD then those only affected with DD. With well over 50 pre-planned and open sessions available at the conference, along with the networking opportunities amongst various industry experts who will be attending, it is hopeful that the HDSF will be able to answer these questions and more.
If you would like more information on the FDCDT or the Visions Conference, visit FloridaDCDT.org.
On Saturday, April 28, 2018, the HDS Foundation will be partaking in Tropical Nights 2018 presented by UM-NSU CARD. UM-NSU CARD has been supporting families affected by autism and related disabilities in our local communities with impactful and invaluable resources and supportive guidance. Tropical Nights 2018 will be held aboard the SeaFair Miami, which will sail around Biscayne Bay for the evening. Along with entertainment, at this casual chic event there will be a live auction, a raffle, and of course cocktails. UM-NSU CARD is celebrating their 25th anniversary this year, which is going to be celebrated on board.
The HDS Foundation is a proud Coconut Palm sponsor of this event. We will be represented by Cristina Gilson, Chairman and President, Carla Otiniano, Program Manager and Board Members, among other guests. They are looking forward to having a great time for a great cause.
Though tickets are sold out, sponsorships are still available. For more information, visit https://www.tropicalnights.org.
On April 4th, the BRIDGES Social Skills class took a field trip to the Weston YMCA. This trip was not only exciting, but very informative. The trip was an informational tour of the YMCA as well as a career exploration for the students to learn about potential future careers. This was especially notable as the Y has a good relationship with Autism Speaks as well as the Autism Community. The students had a great time engaging in the tour and learning about opportunities.
The Social Skills class arrived at the Weston YMCA prepared to learn about their opportunities and the programs offered. The students were required to participate in the tour and sessions by asking questions and engaging in conversations with the tour guides and employees speaking about their careers. The students were so interested that they went above and beyond their required participation, honing their social skills by asking many questions throughout the day. They were so invested in the conversations that they even spoke through their lunch.
Through each of the activities, the teachers spoke with the class to provide feedback as well as reflect on what they have learned. They discussed the importance of the informational trip, not only to learn about what the YMCA offers as far as programs, but about the amazing career opportunities for the students. The students were so excited to learn about career opportunities for them, especially at a place that serves the community with fun activities like the Y.
The class had an incredible time at the YMCA learning about all the programs and opportunities. Everyone had an amazing time, thank you to the YMCA for providing the BRIDGES students with such an amazing activity.
April is World Autism Awareness Month. At HDS Companies, we kicked off the month by participating in Autism Speak’s Signature Event “Light It Up Blue” on Monday, April 2, 2018. Everyone in the HDS offices wore blue, showing our support and helping garner greater understanding and acceptance of those affected by Autism. The offices were also decorated in blue, with HDS and LIUB signs made out of blue lightbulbs, and other fun blue decorations adorning the walls.
In the afternoon, the employees gathered in the conference rooms to start the festivities. Blue puzzle piece lollipops, blue chocolate candies in lightbulbs, scrumptious cupcakes, and yummy packaged treats were distributed to everyone as part of the fun. Carla Otiniano, Program Manager of the HDS Foundation, opened the gathering by telling everyone how they could help spread the word of World Autism Awareness Month. She had selfie-signs available to all employees so they could take picture of themselves, post them to their personal social media accounts, and help spread the word. Cristina Gilson, CEO of HDS Companies, also spoke about the day and how excited she was with the participation and comradery of the employees.
Yessenia, an employee of the Miami office whose youngest child is affected by autism, said about the day, “Autism Awareness Month means a lot to me, being that I have a little boy with autism. I know the daily struggles of an autistic child. Bringing awareness to autism is an extremely important factor in life because this would help not only in being able to gain more studies and assistance for people on the spectrum. It also would help them immensely with their everyday life, such as going to a supermarket and people knowing and understanding how to approach them and interact with them. It would help in school settings, for other children to understand and help them interact with those on the spectrum without thinking they’re weird or incapable just because there different. I personally have known what it is to have to remove my child from a daycare only because they don’t understand him and feel they can’t deal with him. Therefore, I believe autism awareness month is so important, because more and more people are learning about the spectrum and people on the spectrum. One-day I am hopeful that everyone will know and understand Autism!”
Fun was had by everyone. Promoting Autism Awareness will continue at HDS throughout the month. If you would like to participate, take a selfie with the Autism Speaks selfie sign (available at https://www.autismspeaks.org/wam/how-to-liub) and tag it “LightItUpBlue!
The HDS Foundation is in final preparations for the annual kick-off of Autism Awareness Month (April). The HDS Foundation will join the United Nations and The WORLD on April 2nd, 2018 to Light It Up Blue, Autism Speaks’ Signature event.
Autism, or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), refers to a range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication, as well as by unique strengths and differences. We now know that there is not one autism but many types, caused by different combinations of genetic and environmental influences. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CD), one in 68 children in the United States are diagnosed with Autism, and an estimated 50,000 teens with Autism will lose school-based autism services each year as they age out of the school system.
The HDS Foundation, Inc. was founded to provide mentoring services and opportunities to Teens and Young Adults who have Autism-related disabilities. The primary focus of our Organization is to provide work and daily living skills building opportunities and experiences via specific school-based and community partnerships. Teens and young adults can be better prepared to meet the demands of future employment opportunities when these challenges are addressed early on. This year, The HDS Foundation is launching ASDY-TECH, a business model poised to employ young adults on the Spectrum by providing Technical Services and Solutions to private companies.
The HDS Foundation also supports and partners with various community-based groups, aiming to enrich the lives of this special population by providing an array of opportunities to participate in many social activities, and work towards improving future independence as they relate to their day to day activities. Additionally, The HDS Foundation is poised to help educate and provide information related to available, safe and affordable housing options, that can further the possibilities of attaining independent or semi-independent housing.
On April 2nd, 2018 we invite you to join the staff and families of the HDS Companies in celebrating Autism Awareness Day, and the kick-off of World Autism Month. HDS will LlGHT IT UP BLUE, and join the hundreds of thousands of individuals worldwide who stand together to support families impacted by Autism.