National Bullying Prevention Month

National Bullying Prevention Month

In 2006, the PACER Center-Champions for Children with Disabilities founded PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center. Through various partnerships with national parent organizations, PACER was able to provide schools, parents, and students with an abundance of resources to help bring awareness to how bullying has become widespread among children 8-17 years old. This campaign was started to help shift the original thinking that bullying was a “childhood rite of passage” and that it helped to “make kids tougher”.

According to 10 studies across the United States, children with disabilities were two to three times more likely to be bullied than their nondisabled peers because they may find it hard to “read” social signs.  Teachers, parents, and caregivers must take action to help their child from being bullied and prevent this from happening again.

(Disabilities: Insights from Across Fields and Around the World; Marshall, Kendall, Banks & Gover (Eds.), 2009.)

B.R.I.D.G.E.S. the Builders

B.R.I.D.G.E.S. the Builders

The B.R.I.D.G.E.S Builders participated in a fun Community Based Instruction (CBI) activity last Friday, when they all were able to show their building skills as they all built a birdhouse together.

Facilitators, Kathy Gorman-Gard and Donna Mansolillo began the CBI reviewing what materials they needed for the activity.  The checklist is as follows:

  • Birdhouse wood pieces
  • Safety goggles
  • Hammer marker
  • Wood glue
  • Nails

Once the students had all their materials, they were instructed to label each piece with a letter. This would help with the step-by-step instructions since it was being done virtually.

The students were now ready to begin. Facilitators provided a power point that included pictures of what each piece should look like and how to assemble it. Students learned new phrases related to building such as beveled and flushed sides, eye screw, thread and claw of the hammer.

The class took a quick lunch break after completing the first few steps. During lunch, the students talked about what type of birds the birdhouse would attract and the different types of birdhouses  you can make.

After lunch, the B.R.I.D.G.E.S. Builders put the finishing touches on their birdhouse. Although, there were challenges they encountered during this project, they persevered and completed their first very own birdhouse! The students were all so proud of their accomplishments and will now get to paint their birdhouse during their free time.

What a fun afternoon for the B.R.I.D.G.E.S. Builders as they focused on independence, empowerment, and social skills during this CBI. We can’t wait to see what they will be building next!


HDS Foundation Welcomes the B.R.I.D.G.E.S. Class Back!

HDS Foundation Welcomes the B.R.I.D.G.E.S. Class Back!

Last week, the HDS Foundation had the pleasure to virtually attend the B.R.I.D.G.E.S. class. Over the past years, we have visited the students to introduce ourselves and tell them about how HDS Foundation is involved in the B.R.I.D.G.E.S.  program. A special lunch and dessert treat is always part of our visit with the students. One of our favorite parts of the visit,  is spending time talking to the students and getting to know them.

This year, things were a little different as we made our plans for this school year. After our meet and greet last Tuesday, we had the students come to the school to pick up a goodie bag that we prepared for them to feel extra special.  Each student received, hand sanitizer, water bottle, journal, pens, but the best of all was a gift card to Cold Stone Creamery.

It was great to see the students, as they drove by to receive their goodie bags at the high school. We look forward to attending more classes to see the students and the progress they are making this school year.


Ask Eustacia – Q&A

Ask Eustacia – Q&A

Yesterday, the HDS Foundation attended the Ask Eustacia – Q&A webinar where Eustacia Cutler, Dr. Temple Grandin’s mother, presented on the topic: “How Will I Find My Way to the One Who Will Help Me Find My Way” via Zoom. Our employees and staff at HDS Companies, as well as Dr. Tara Rowe Director at University of North Florida THRIVE Program, Ms. Kathy Gormin-Gard and Donna Mansolillo Cypress Bay High School BRIDGES facilitators and Rixys Alfonso from CauseMo Marketing were able to attend.

Eustacia created a personal touch to her Q & A session for a wide range of participants, who represented parents who had children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), individuals with ASD, and professionals that work with students with ASD. She shared her experiences as a mom with her daughter who was diagnosed with ASD as a young girl and how she always looked ahead to find ways to help her move forward in life. Eustacia also shared her struggles during this time and opened a heartfelt discussion for many of the participants that were struggling as well.

The topic of COVID came up and several participants shared how they were handling all the safety precautions with their ASD child. Eustacia recommended sharing information with your children who have ASD in a story-like manner to help them understand the rules of being safe in our “new normal”. Since ASD children understand and can move forward with a systematic approach to things, she recommended setting down a system of rules to help your child.

Eustacia ended her session with inspiring words and hope for many of the participants. She encouraged everyone to visit her website, where you will find videos, a blog, and free webinars.

HDS Foundation Recorded Zoom Parent Meeting


If you were not able to attend the parent meeting, or if you would like to learn more about the HDS Foundation mission and the programs we provide, please watch the video above. The video is a recording from our most recent Zoom Parent Meeting with the Cypress Bay B.R.I.D.G.E.S. parents. You can also find the PDF Version of the PowerPoint by clicking here: Link to PowerPoint PDF

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