A March newsletter brought to you by Rhonda Davis, OSB Parent Liaison
A handsome snowman with an Overbrook School for the Blind hat sits on a frozen lake with the sun setting behind him.

~Sun Sets on Winter~

Its been a tough one, but if we can get through this week without too much trouble, we should be good to go! It does help a little to look forward to the fun to come. So, lets turn our attention to Sunday, April 15, when we will have OSB's first ever "Walk and Roll in the Woods" at Ridley Creek State Park. Walking (or rolling!) in nature with friends and loved ones can be such a wonderful "reset" to the stresses of school and work. This nature walk will be in Delaware County, but future walks will happen in different regions of the Philadelphia area, and will rotate. That said, I hope folks will be inspired to come out from near and far to meet with other OSB families at this first walk. A picnic will be provided!   Seeeee? I already feel a little better imagining the sun and flowers of April! How about you?

I hope to see the whole family at Ridley Creek State Park! In the meantime, stay warm! -Rhonda Davis, OSB Parent Liaison

PS. Also, please check out info on the next Workshop@Woodbine below. Thursday, March 22, from 10-1. Fun will be had by all! (Ok, maybe we'll learn something, too.)


~~Family Spotlight~~

                   The Mullin family at the wedding of a niece.            
~~Welcome to~~ Family Spotlight, a feature of the newsletter where we will learn about a different family each month to help us get to know each other. Please let me know if your family would like join in the fun!

This month, we meet the Mullin family, whose youngest child is a School to Work student who has attended OSB since she was three years old!  I spoke to Annelizabeth's mother, Donna Mullin, and she was happy to share some details their lives together.

Faith, family, and (Magic Kingdom) fun are themes that run through this family's experiences. Mr. and Mrs. Mullin have raised their son, 25 and OSB student, Annelizabeth, 19 with a strong foundation in the Roman Catholic church. Their son is expecting a child soon, expanding the family that also includes Jack, 15, their faithful Jack Russel Terrier. 

The Mullins attend mass every Sunday, after having breakfast with Annelizabeth's grandfather. Mrs. Mullin says Annelizabeth "enjoys it, and people enjoy having her there. She attracts people to her and brings out a really warm side of them."  One parishioner blesses Annelizabeth every time he sees her, and a close friend says she is, "Gods grace present in the world."  What is striking to Mrs. Mullin is the degree to which Annelizabeth has brought people closer to them.   "[She's] been a blessing for us. She's been the greatest gift."

The Mullins also enjoy up to three family reunions a year, two on Mrs. Mullin's side and one on Mr. Mullin's. But that's not all!  The family has been fortunate to have close friends who live 10 minutes from the main gate of Disney World in Florida. "Disney is the absolute best for kids with disabilities!" according to Mrs. Mullin.  There are some rides that the wheelchair goes into directly. For other rides, Disney staff will help transfer the child to the ride. Annelizabeth loves any that light up and make music. The family has been able to go two or three times a year by using an annual pass. The pass makes it more affordable, and allows for flexibility in case they can't stay long for health reasons.

When asked about special arrangements for getting around safely with Annelizabeth, Mrs. Mullin gave a little laugh. "Sometimes I don't pay attention. I just think she can go anywhere with me, and we get stuck!" But generally speaking, they use the van, and the wheelchair, and make sure she's comfortable.  Annelizabeth has trouble regulating her body temperature, so she needs to stay hydrated with Gatorade.  Water washes away the sodium, which they learned the hard way when Annelizabeth ended up in the hospital on a trip to Disney. 

As for coping strategies, the time spent in hospitals has helped Mrs. Mullin. When she sees what other children with serious illnesses go through, she realizes, "I have nothing" to complain about. "It is a process of trying to readjust expectations...and adjust to the new normal."  As a reminder to celebrate any progress, she keeps something close to heart that former Parent Liaison, Jean Ann Vogelman used to say-   "Our lows may be lower, but our highs are higher." 

Thank you so much to the Mullin family for sharing their perspective and some words of wisdom. A reminder to celebrate progress, and to be open to adjusting expectations is much appreciated!
Workshops@Woodbine House
Creating a Vision for Your Child-Thursday, March 22, 2018  10:00am to 1:00pm.

*Learn how to build on your child's strength so his or her full potential is reached.

*Hands-on session for families will include all materials to create a vision that they can take home.

*Spend time with others who really get what we're going through in support of our children with special needs! 

*Lunch provided, and childcare will be reimbursed!

Woodbine House is located at 6398 Woodbine Ave, corner of Woodbine and N. 64th St., around the corner from OSB's main entrance. (No need to check in at the main entrance, go directly to 6398 Woodbine Ave. There is plenty of street parking!)

Call 215-877-0313 x305 or email to reserve your spot!

NEXT Workshop@Woodbine House: 
Thursday, April 19, 2018~ Playpen Zen- Engage your child in play!
Thursday, May 17, 2018~ Addressing Challenging Behaviors
Two more exciting, out of school OSB events to Note!
Sunday, April 15, 2018, 11-2pm: A Spring Walk and Roll in the Woods- Please join other OSB families for a picnic and "walk and roll" at Ridley Creek State Park, in Newtown Square, Delaware County.  DATE CHANGE! 

Lets soak in the spring~ We'll provide the picnic, you bring your sneakers and wheels! Ridley Creek State Park has an accessible, multi-use trail that meanders along a creek. After lunch, those of us who feel like it can, hit the trail. Or stay at the picnic site to visit with others if you prefer!  Evite/Flyer to come.

Friday, June 1, 2018:  Funky Friday Swim and BBQ- Another chance to gather for a little fun! This time, we'll get to enjoy the beautiful Kappen Aquatic Center, and patio. More info to come.
PERC Corner
Where you'll get the latest from your PERC representatives!
Wawa Shorti Hoagie are available until the end of May!! They are $4.00 each and are great for lunch or dinner on the run! Coupons will be delivered via your child’s book-bag as orders are received.  Preferred payment is cash or PayPal; however, checks can be made out to: Overbrook PERC.  Please return completed form and payment in an envelope marked: “Rhonda Davis – PERC Wawa”   Questions? Contact the PERC at:

Mixed Bag Spring Fundraiser!! Orders can be placed online at .  An eCatalog (PDF) is available upon request by emailing .  Your order will still be placed online, and shipping and handling may apply. The Spring Mixed Bag Fundraiser will run through April 15, 2018.

Staff Appreciation Luncheon: This annual event is scheduled for March 14, 2018!!! We are looking for volunteers to help serve food and for parents to contribute desserts for the sweet table!! Forms are coming home this week and are due by March 12th. Please reach out to Tina Pilkauskas with any questions.
Beeping Egg Hunt: The PERC is coordinating the 1st Annual Beeping Egg Hunt for March 21, 2018!  Invitations for this fun-filled event have been sent home and emailed through SchoolMessenger.
Designer Bag Bingo: The PERC has teamed up with OSB to host the 1st Designer Bag Bingo on Saturday, April 21, 2018. It will be held at the OSB Field House with doors opening at 6PM.  Bingo begins at 7PM. The PERC and OSB are jointly asking for volunteers to help at the event. If you can volunteer, please contact Tina Pilkauskas at  The PERC and OSB are also asking for raffle baskets donations – adult oriented items please as this is non-child event (21yrs+).  Tickets for this event will be on sale through OSB in the next 5-10 days.

Philadelphia Soul: The PERC has teamed up with the Philadelphia Soul again to bring you Night at the Soul on Sunday, June 10, 2018 at 3PM.  The deadline for tickets purchases is 6/1/18.  Tickets can be purchased via PayPal at (avoid fees send money as a friend) or cash in an envelope to JJ McGlynn (Biddle Rm 109) - PLEASE WRITE YOUR CHILDREN'S NAME.  Wheelchair seating is available, but limited, so please specify when requesting your tickets. Flyers have been sent home and emailed through SchoolMessenger for this event.
Pastries With Parents: The PERC will be hosting this 1st annual event celebrating Mother’s, Father’s and/or Guardians on Monday, June 11, 2018 9:30-11A M at Overbrook.   Save the Date – as details are still coming together.  An email and flyer will come home soon. 
Next PERC meeting:  Tuesday, April 17 at 7PM, onsite at OSB Nevil Center Conference Room.

Happy March from the PERC Board, Tina Pilkauskas, President, Medea Mc Glynn, Vice President, Leighann Stone, Secretary, and JD Dougherty, Treasurer. 

~Mark Your Calendars~ 


Meetings to smooth the transition to Pre-school or Kindergarten! 
Presented by Temple's Institute on Disabilities and Families First
APRIL 10, Tuesday / 5:30-8:00 PM

Transition to Kindergarten
What supports, services and interventions are available for my special needs child in kindergarten?
Resources for Human Development
4700 Wissahickon Ave., Suite #126

Phila., PA 19144

MAY 8 Tuesday /10:00 AM -12:30 PM
Transition Brunch

4040 Market Street, Room 170
Phila, PA 19139

MAY 16 Wednesday /10:30 AM -12:30 PM

Understanding Evaluations and Reevaluations

Bushrod Library 6304 Castor Avenue

Cathy Roccia-Meier
TEL:  215-204-1772

1st Annu​al Disabilities Summit. FREE. Saturday March 17th from 9-2. 1500 Market Street. Interpreters available, an amazing line up of speakers. Presented  in English, Mandarin, Spanish, French and Arabic. See this flyer!

SPIN Caregivers Group on Wednesday March 28th from 5:30-7:30 focusing on information about Pre Employment for Youth with disabilities.FREE, Pizza and childcare available but reservations are required. See flyer.

Save the Date for the FREE Faith and Spiritual Affairs conference of the Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and IDS on April 27th from 8-4 at the Philadelphia Convention Center. This program is for children, families and community members to learn about thriving in the areas of behavioral health, trauma based services, respite care, health care, education, access to healthy food and community programs. See flyer for more details. Resource providers are also needed. Contact for any questions, see flyer

Elwyn Seeds March Calendar of Activites!
Finding Videos With Audio Descriptions

Check out this helpful New York Times article! 

Article Link:
Q. I am blind, and I do not subscribe to any streaming video services at the moment. How would you suggest I determine, quickly, whether a good percentage of the original content and current popular third-party content on Netflix and Amazon Prime, for starters, is audio-described and/or dubbed?
A. A good place to start is the Audio Description Project page on the website of the American Council of the Blind. The page, optimized for screen-reader software, has a running list of streaming services that offer videos with “audio descriptions” — added narration about scenes, characters, costumes and more — for people who cannot see what is happening. The list, which is updated regularly, is available at
According to the council, Netflix has more than “500 audio-described TV series, documentaries, original programming and children’s shows in the U.S.A.,” including most of the company’s original productions, like “House of Cards.” Although you must be a member to get access to Netflix’s full list of current videos with audio descriptions, the council’s site has compiled its own alphabetized list of audio-described Netflix content at

Caring for Siblings of Sick or Disabled Children

Speaking of the NYT, here's another relevant article: right here!
~Previously Shared Resources~ 
Teen Mental Health: MedlinePlus has pulled together resources related to mental health for families who have teenagers with special health care needs or mental health concerns. Resources speak directly to the teen and are also available in Spanish.    Teen Mental Health Resources

The NNCC's Safe and Healthy Homes is accepting new referrals! This is a FREE program for low income families with children who could use some support to address issues such as asthma triggers, pests (bedbugs, lice, roaches, mice), fire and lead prevention. If you would like a referral, contact Rhonda Davis at 

Inclusion and Special Needs info:  Check this out!  The California Inclusion Program's "Teaching Pyramid" collection of FREE family and teacher friendly handouts about behavior, special needs and inclusion is AMAZING!! These resources are  also available in CHINESE and SPANISH.  Really useful info for handling everyday situations w/any child.

Mighty Writers, Mighty Toddlers is a free program for children 2-4 years old at three locations throughout Philadelphia.  “Each session will include alphabet play, read aloud and story acting. We’ll learn that toddlers can make books, too. Parents, stay to play and learn with us!"  Click on the spring calendar for more information.
  • Congresso's Family Social Services is a family support program that provides assessment and short-term case management for resource connection. The program is available to anyone, regardless of language or where you  live. Please see this flyer for more info if you feel you could use some extra support!  (or call 215-763-8870
  • For parents of middle and high school students, take a look at this thorough transition resource:  Autism Speaks announces the launch of a new version of the popular Transition Tool Kit. The Tool Kit was created to serve as a guide to assist families on the journey from adolescence to adulthood.  There are many helpful items that will relate to OSB students with and without an Autism diagnosis!  Their most recent newsletter covers this topic in depth and is worth a read.
  • Children’s mental health emergencies, like other emergencies, need prompt assessment and care. Recently,  the place to go for children’s mental health emergencies has changed to:
The Philadelphia Children’s Crisis Response Center 
3300 Henry Avenue, Falls Two Building, 3rd Floor 
Philadelphia, PA 19129. 
Phone: (215) 878-2600

Open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
For other behavioral health emergencies, please be familiar with these resources

To sign up for Cap4Kids emails (an amazing resource!), click here 

Looking for help to get the most out of the IEP process? Take a look at at the Wrightslaw  website, and consider signing up for their newsletter.  This issue has "How to" Tips for Parent Input.  Another helpful topic is How to Manage your Child's Documents.  

Did you know you can dial 2-1-1 on your phone for access to resources?

2‑1‑1 SEPA is part of the national 2‑1‑1 Call Centers initiative that seeks to provide an easy-to-remember telephone number, chat, text, and a web resource for finding health and human services– for everyday needs and in crisis situations.

Every day, highly trained 2‑1‑1 call specialists provide referrals to:

  • Basic Human Needs Resources: food banks, shelters, rent and utility payment assistance
  • Physical and Mental Health Resources: crisis intervention services, support groups, counseling
  • Employment Support: financial assistance, job training, education programs
  • Support for Older Adults and Persons with Disabilities: home-delivered meals, transportation, health care
  • Youth and Child Care Programs: after school programs, summer camps, mentoring, protection services
  • Regional Disaster Preparation

With one phone number, callers gain free, confidential access to thousands of programs and services that can help improve the quality of their lives. Help is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week by calling 2‑1‑1 (or 1-866-964-7922). TTY and language services are available in more than 170 languages and dialects.

Free Adaptive Fire Alarms for Philly Homes
The Philadelphia Fire Department announced recently that it's getting nearly $1 million in grant money to buy and install at least 30,000 smoke alarms over the next two years. The funds will pay for about 26,000 traditional alarms and 4,000 adaptive alarms for residents who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind or have low vision.  The Fire Department hopes to begin installing the traditional alarms in October and the adaptive alarms starting in December. 

Adaptive alarms are designed to warn persons with hearing or vision loss about a possible fire. They come in multiple designs, including some that shake beds and others that activate strobe lights - and they can cost 10 times as much as traditional smoke alarms.   

Need an alarm? Call 311

**If you need a smoke alarm, please contact 311 and specify if you need an adaptive alarm. For traditional alarms, it could take 60 days from the date of the request until the alarms are installed. The PFD hopes to begin installing adaptive alarms starting in December.

**Important for any family with a growing child who uses a wheel chair**
Disability Rights Pennsylvania (DRP) is investigating the Department of Human Services’ (DHS) failure to provide Medical Assistance coverage to children with physical disabilities for medically necessary wheelchair lifts, stair glides and other equipment for their homes.  If you or someone you know has a child who has been denied coverage or could not identify where to send a request for such equipment for a child, please call DRP’s intake line at (800) 692-7443.

Adding to the list of nifty adaptive clothing: check out these shoes!
Sensory Friendly Clothing for Kids, list of sources for soft, seamless, comfy clothes: Check it out here~ 

Target has a new line of clothes that are "sensory friendly."  It is called Cat & Jack and has no tags, smooth seems and  soft fabric.  They have pants with extra room for older children who wear diapers, and they will continue to introduce  "adaptive pieces to help address the needs of children living with disabilities.”

Here is a resource  for those whose kids who have food allergies:  Right here~  (One of my kids has Celiac Disease, so I will be making use of this.) I especially appreciate how local attractions are covered,  so if you are taking your kids to the Zoo, for example, you can read up on what precautions to take, depending on your situation.

The Children's Advocacy Project of Philadelphia
For the most comprehensive list of resources for families in Philly, check out The Children's Advocacy Project, or Cap4Kids, created by a local doctor, Daniel Taylor, D.O.   You can sign up for his weekly email, where he will highlight a single useful item each week.

Free Tactile Art Kit for kids 2 to 8 years old!

Offered by The American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults This kit will provide tools for young children to create tactile experiences in many different formats. The kit will include:

**Substrate materials: sandpaper, rubbing plates, embossed grid paper, plastic canvas, and a Sensational Blackboard
**Drawing materials: ink pen, jumbo crayons, tracing wheel, chopsticks, and a slate and stylus
**Tools: print/Braille ruler, rounded scissors, basic shapes templates, French curve templates, and a glue stick
**Papers: Braille paper, parchment paper, copy paper, tracing paper, thermoform paper, tactile drawing film, and tactile pictures
**Sculpture material: Model Magic

To enroll in this exciting program, please complete the online application at, or fill out and mail the downloadable version to:

American Action Fund Tactile Art Program 
1800 Johnson Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21230

PLEASE NOTE:  NEW TIME for Weekly Phone in Discussion Groups 
Educating Communities for Parenting is excited to announce  phone-in discussion groups for parents of children impacted by blindness or visual impairment Tuesday evenings from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. 
Connect with others who understand the journey.  Ask questions - share advice - complain – brag – or just listen! 
To participate:    Call 515-739-1015   Access code 821175
For more information please call or email Anita Kulick   215-496-9780  

The Free Library of Philadelphia's Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (LBPH) for PA Residents

LBPH, as part of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically HandicappedLibrary of Congress (NLS) serves Pennsylvania residents who have difficulty reading due to a physical impairment, a reading disability, or a vision challenge. Please view the Eligibility page for more details

If standard print has become difficult to read for you, a friend, or a family member, please call 800-222-1754 or 215-683-3217

LPBH offers a wide variety of services for customers throughout the Commonwealth. Some are available on site, and many are available free through the mail via our partnership with Carnegie Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped in Pittsburgh.

PEAL Center: Parent Education & Advocacy Leadership Center

The PEAL Center is a great resource for families with a child who has a disability. From their website: "The PEAL Center is an organization of parents of children with disabilities and special health care needs who educate and guide:

— Families of children and youth, ages birth to 26, who have disabilities and/or special health care needs
— Professionals and others who work with children and youth who have disabilities and/or special health care needs
— Youth and young adults up to age 26 who have disabilities and/or special health care needs"

Check out their most recent newsletter:
PEAL Center Newsletter in English 
PEAL Center Newsletter  en espanol!

Philadelphia Parent Support Groups

For families with a child with intellectual disabilities and/or autism, these are "grassroots groups" organized by families, for families receiving are seeking intellectual disability services, and are located in neighborhoods throughout Philadelphia. 

If you are interested in joining a Philadelphia Parent Support Group, contact Barbara Nattile, Philadelphia Support Groups Manager at 267-773-5288 or via email:  See more info about PPSG here, and where the various neighborhoods are located here.
Copyright © 2018 OSB, All rights reserved.

Rhonda Davis OSB Parent Liaison Contact Info:

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Overbrook School for the Blind · 6333 Malvern Ave. · Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19151 · USA

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