This year marked the 24th VISIONS Conference and Transition Institute, held at the Sirata Beach Resort and Conference Center in St. Pete. Many organizations, instructors, schools, and leaders came together to learn and be informed about transitioning outside of high school, strategies, and programs to support students with disabilities. This conference aimed to give students what they need to “survive” and thrive in college, their career, and their community.
The first day consisted of the opening session, vendor displays, an inclusive postsecondary update and the President’s Reception luncheon. HDS Foundation was one of the many that showcased their organization. They had great giveaways such as cell phone pocket, privacy camera protectors. Many of the attendees stopped by and learned more about the foundation and their mission. The HDS Foundation staff also went around and met different vendors and networked. It was very nice for the staff to build a connection and relate the information learned with others in community. The rest of the weekend consisted of a variety of sessions and keynote speakers. Many of the key speakers shared their story and struggles with their disabilities and what helped them be successful. Their story was very inspirational and gave insight to the audience of what can be done. The founder Cristina Miranda Gilson’s daughter, Kate had the opportunity to speak on behalf of UNF in a panel about college housing, and share her experience with others. This was such a great opportunity for everyone to get a testimonial of the UNF programs.
The HDS Foundation had an incredible time at the conference, and learned so much from everyone who was in attendance. The staff were very excited to share the information with the rest of the of the foundation. Thank you to the Division on Career Development and Transition’s Council for Exceptional Children and the Florida Department of Education for such a fun and informational conference, and we hope to be back next year!
The HDS Foundation relies on different allies of communication and networking to inform people about our programs and our mission here in South Florida and beyond. We recently had the opportunity to reach out over the airwaves, on the Here’s Help Radio Show, an innovative public access radio talk show that focuses on relevant and pressing issues in the community, specifically Miami-Dade and Broward County. The radio show and its hosts, Rixys Alfonso, Community activist and CEO of CauseMo Marketing, and Ron Hersey, a radio veteran, welcomed the HDS Foundation’s Founder, Cristina Miranda Gilson, on their talk show to speak about the foundation.
Cristina shared the inspiration that led her to start the Foundation, as well her experience in the affordable housing and tech industry, and how that has resulted in the success of the Foundation in providing different opportunities and resources for career transition, gainful employment, and independent living. She also touches on the struggles that a parent with a child on the autism spectrum experiences and how they, and others, can help to assist these young adults in achieving their goals in their personal and professional lives.
Check out our very own and learn about what we’re doing in this informative and eye-opening interview below!
Here's Help 1
Here's Help 2
This year, the HDS Foundation and some of its Board Members are very excited to be traveling to sunny St. Petersburg, FL to attend the DCDT Visions XXIV Conference from May 3-May 5, at the Sirata Beach Resort and Convention Center. There, we will be attending informative sessions and connect with others to learn more about the different career and transition programs and opportunities that are available.
If you are also attending, please stop by our booth and say hi! We look forward to making new and lasting connections to be able to provide you, and those in our programs and community, with more information and resources. To learn more about the Visions XXIV Conference, and the Division on Career and Transition, please visit Visions Annual Conference.
This month, the BRIDGES students had the thrilling opportunity to visit the Bit-by-Bit Medical Therapeutic Riding Center.
Bit-by-Bit is a Therapeutic Horse Ranch that provides healing with the help of horses and promotes the independence of those in need of therapy or assistance, such as at-risk youth, the special needs population, and disabled veterans. They also mentor students as volunteers, and provide a center for community involvement. Their Hippo Therapy program consists of physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech-language pathology by using the horses to facilitate the various types of development.
The BRIDGES students had the opportunity to learn about these different therapies and how they used the horses to help others in each type of therapy. The students also got to take a tour of the facilities and were given the opportunity to interact with the horses and brushing them. They were so intrigued and had great questions about the ranch and horses, and the instructors were very pleased with their questions.
The students also learned about Bit-by-Bit’s recreational therapeutic horseback riding, which helps improve the well-being of individuals with special needs, especially in their quality of life. Physical, cognitive, emotional, and social improvements result from this type of therapeutic activity and those involved can compete, do it for fun, or find something in between. The students were also told about the volunteer service program in place for students. Most high school students need community service hours to graduate, and this is a great way to get hours and give back!
The best part of the day was getting to see the horses themselves. The students got to pet the horses, take pictures with them, and even brush their manes and tails. Everyone was so excited to be able to spend time with the horses, and the horses enjoyed all the love. The students and the HDS Foundation employees all had an amazing time. The day was made even more special since Carla, Dr. Sandy, and Meagan were able to attend this event.
Thank you so much to Bit-by-Bit Medical Therapeutic Riding Center for a great day and for showing us the amazing work you guys are doing! They are a great resource so be sure to check them out at: www.bitbybittherapy.org or on our website www.hdsfoundation.org/resources.
This April, the BRIDGES students visited the YMCA in Weston. The students had the opportunity to tour the facilities, ask questions, and even got to try out some of the gym equipment. They learned all about what working at the YMCA looks like, and all the services the Y provides to the community. The students first arrived at the YMCA and met with one of the supervisors, who gave them a general tour. They saw the basketball courts, the pool area, the gym areas and class rooms. They went into one of the gym activity class rooms and got to try out some of the equipment, like the balance trainers which were exciting. They even practiced their squats, getting a feel for the practice room. At the YMCA, they learned about different jobs and volunteer opportunities. Students can choose to volunteer with programs to help students in need by engaging in different exercise activities with them. They also learned about jobs such as cleaning staff, exercise coaches, personal trainers, and management staff. Each person has a very different role, but they are all essential in the management of the Y. The students learned about what each role entailed, and had some great questions about the roles that interested them. The BRIDGES students had an amazing day at the YMCA, and really enjoyed learning all about what the Y has to offer to the community. Thank you so much to the YMCA for hosting the students and giving them a tour of the facilities!
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