A September newsletter brought to you by Rhonda Davis, OSB Parent Liaison
In the background, OSB's front entrance. In the foreground, a small stack of stones, perfectly balanced.

~Back to School, Peacefully~

Welcome to another year of fun times, friends, and...the reason we're all here...growth for your children, the students of Overbrook School for the Blind!  You may recall that in June's newsletter to families, I wished for everyone to be able to "pause frequently to notice beauty in unexpected moments,"  throughout the summer.  This is one way to calm the mind and be fully present in the moment. It is an example of "mindfulness" which has been shown to be a powerful stress reduction technique. 

Studies show that parents of children with disabilities experience high levels of stress that can lead to anxiety, depression, and other health problems.  Most of us know that already!  But did you know there are simple, low cost and proven ways to counter this stress?  Even better, with practice, we can have access to  stress reduction, any where, any time. 

Try this: (from Pocket Mindfulness)
One Minute Mindful Breathing

This exercise can be done standing up or sitting down, and pretty much anywhere at any time. All you have to do is be still and focus on your breath for just one minute.

  1. Start by breathing in and out slowly. One breath cycle should last for approximately 6 seconds.

  2. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, letting your breath flow effortlessly in and out of your body.

  3. Let go of your thoughts. Let go of things you have to do later today. Simply let thoughts rise and fall of their own accord and breath.

  4. Purposefully watch your breath, focusing your sense of awareness on its pathway as it enters your body and fills you with life.

  5. Then watch with your awareness as it works work its way up and out of your mouth and its energy dissipates into the world.

If you enjoyed one minute of this mind-calming exercise, why not try two or three? Try this once a day, or any time you start to feel overwhelmed. 

Please check back next month for another "minute mindful tip"!  In the meantime, scroll down to meet another wonderful "Spotlight Family", check out the new "Therapy Thoughts", and see the activities and workshops in the works for this school year.

~~Family Spotlight~~

Our "Family Spotlight" family for September 2018! Early Childhood student Coco with her 5 sibling and their Mom at Funky Friday Family Swim and BBQ in May 2018.

~~Welcome to~~ Family Spotlight, a feature of the newsletter where we 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!
I am so pleased to introduce one of our Early Childhood families! Meet Coco, (lower right in above photo) her brothers, sisters and their Mother, Tasha. Not pictured is four year old Demi, the family's loyal pup!  In this picture, the family is enjoying dinner at the Funky Friday Family BBQ and Swim Party in May, 2018.

Coco lives with her two year old brother, her twin sister, a six year old sister and two older brothers, one who is in the 5th grade and one in the 8th grade. You can bet theirs is a busy, busy household - especially when school is getting back into session!  

For fun, the kids enjoy playing games, coloring, reading, and dancing. They love to have dance parties! And for a special outing, their favorite place to go is Chuck E. Cheese's. 

I asked if there are any special considerations needed for Coco when the family gets out of the house together, and Tasha expressed concerns many of us feel when we're out with our special needs children.  "As Coco gets older," explained Tasha, "she needs to embrace the world like any other child."

So they try to go places where they know the surroundings, and where others are less likely to be judgmental, like the library. They also try to get out during times of the day that are not too crowded. Tasha says it's helpful to have an older sibling with them to help guide Coco, and sometimes even uses tools like a backpack with a safety harness. She wants to make sure Coco interacts with the outside world while keeping her safe.

Tasha says she is most proud of her family's ability to "take things one day at a time...and if that's too much for us, then we break it down hour. If that's too much, 10 minutes. If we have to break it down to one minute, just to get through that day, then that's OK,"  If only this ability could be bottled!

Thank you to Coco and her amazing mom, Tasha, for sharing their family with OSB!

~~Therapy Thoughts~~

~~Welcome to~~ Therapy Thoughts, where we will tap into the wealth of knowledge and experience of OSB's talented therapists- in Occupational and Physical Therapy, Orientation & Mobility, and Speech & Language Pathology.  Here are some ideas to try at home. (Thank you to Speech Therapist Beth Schernecke for suggesting that we share thoughts on therapy for parents to use at home, and for putting these tips together, based on!)

Speech Tips to try at Home

Did you know that reading to your child is one of the best ways to encourage and increase their speech and language skills? Each time you read to your child, you are helping their brain to develop.  One of the biggest obstacles to developing literacy for students with multiple disabilities is the lack of early literacy experiences.  So read to your child every day!!! Choose books that you think your child will enjoy and will be fun for you to read. For students with visual impairments, you may want to try large print books, books with braille, auditory books, tactile books or interactive books.  Here are a few tips:

#1: Read Slowly : Children learn more from books when they are read slowly.  It will sound very weird to you to read so slowly, but trust me: it will help!  

#2: Re-Read Books That You’ve Already Read: Children also learn more from books when they are read over and over again.  The more times you read it, the more he will pick up. Books with repetitive words and phrases or predictable text and rhymes allows children to participate in the reading experience immediately.   

#3: Ask Your Child Questions About What’s Going on in the Book: This will increase your child’s understanding of what is happening as well as their ability to answer a variety of questions.  You can ask yes/no, who, what, where, when, why, which, and how questions.

#4: Exposure to the Books: Children should be exposed to basic positional concepts holding a book, including top/bottom, left/right, front/back.  They should also have practice turning pages and examining what is on each page.  Taking students to the library is a great way to do this!

#5: Do Activities that are Similar to What Happened in the Book: You could act out scenes from the book or make something that the characters in the book made.  When teaching students with visual impairments, you have to consider the concepts in the book. In this case, you may want to create story boxes for your child. For example, the book "The Beach" is a simple book. Each page refers to something that can be found on a beach (rocks, shells, crab, starfish, fish, and bird).  The concepts can be taught by presenting a prop for each object (rock, shell, crab) to the child as you read about it. This allows the student to explore the object and gives them an understanding of the concept of each object.

(taken from

Here are some resources to find free books online:

ABC ya!

Here are websites with additional information

List of Books with repetitive and predictive text:

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. 
Five Little Monkeys  by Eileen Christelow 
Silly Sally  by Audrey Wood 
Have You Seen My Cat?  by Eric Carle  The Napping House  by Audrey Wood
Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes  by Eric Litwin
Mrs. Wishy Washy's Farm   by Joy Cowley
Something from Nothing  by Phoebe Gilman
Bark George  by Jules Feiffer
No, David  by David Shannon

Thanks so much, Beth S., for sharing this important information!

We got Fun, and More!

If you were not able to make it to any of our family activities last school year, we get it. Its not always easy to squeeze in fun times along with work, doctor's appointments and grocery shopping. But fun times is the sugar that makes the medicine go down! The best way to make sure fun happens is to schedule it right in there with everything else. So be sure to put the following dates on your calendars:

Saturday, October 20, 11-2 pm: Fall Walk 'n Roll in the Woods- Looking for a Philly location that is accessible. Possibly the Wissahickon, or the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge.

Friday, January 25, 5:30-8:30 pm:  Funky Friday Family Game Night- Dinner, bowling and games with other OSB families in the OSB field house. 

Saturday, April 27, 11-2 pm:  Spring Walk n' Roll in the Woods- A picnic and a short hike at Ridley Creek State Park.

Friday, May 31, 5:30-8:30 pm:  Funky Friday Family BBQ and Swim- Burgers, dogs and a dunk in the Kappan Aquatic Center! 

Students and families "get funky" at the first Funky Friday Family Game night, in January 2018.   Students and families enjoy a picnic and short hike and the first "Spring Walk n' Roll in the Woods" in April, 2018.  Students and families enjoy a BBQ at Funky Friday Family BBQ and Swim, May 2018.   Students and families enjoy swimming at Funky Friday Family BBQ and Swim, May 2018.
Here we are having some fun! At the January 2018 Funky Friday Family Game night, at Ridley Creek State Park in spring, 2018 and at the May 2018 Funky Friday Family  BBQ and Swim.       Hope to see you at this year's activities!
We got Connection, and More!
Raising a child with disabilities can be an isolating experience. No one can know the exhaustion, stress and fear we sometimes feel without walking in a parent or guardian's shoes. This is why it is so important to spend time with others who are living the experience.  Please join us for this school year's Parent/Guardian Workshops, to connect with others, learn from each other, and to offer and receive support.  

The topics we will cover will include handling sleep issues, managing difficult behaviors, choosing home health care, feeding and nutrition, and more! Below are the dates of this years workshops. Topics and location- to be determined, so stay tuned.

Thursday, October 18, 10-1

Thursday, November 15, 10-1

Thursday, January 17, 10-1  

Thursday, February 21, 10-1

Thursday, March 21, 10-1

Thursday, May 16, 10-1

Parents and guardians enjoy learning how "reflexology" can help relieve common problems for children with disabilities, and reduce stress for caregivers, during a Parent Workshop.
Parents and guardians enjoy learning how "reflexology" can help relieve common problems for children with disabilities, and reduce stress for caregivers, during a Parent Workshop.
PERC Corner
Where you'll get the latest from your PERC representatives!
PERC is excited to be back, and we are ready to start a great new school year!
We are eager to share some changes that took place over the summer.  Although our logo has always served us well, we have decided to go in a fresh new direction, one that is more in line with Overbrook.  PERC is thrilled to reveal our new logo and name PERC Home & School Association

Wawa is back too!  Once again, we have available Wawa Shorti Hoagie Coupons
-  To place an order, please complete form and email us at or send it in with your child in an envelope marked Rhonda Davis.  Preferred payment is cash or PayPal (; however, checks can be made out to: Overbrook PERC.   

Staying in Touch
Come join our Facebook Page at Overbrook School for the Blind P.E.R.C.  (@OSBPERC) – tag us too!!

Join Remind - download the free app or you can log on online too  and follow us at @osbperc .  This will give you realtime updates on meeting, events, etc. as we post them
Lastly, our first PERC meeting is September 18th, 7PM on campus in the Nevil Conference Center.  Park in the bus turnaround, and enter through the Nevil Center doors. Hope to see you there!

A Message from OSB Parent, Jim Murphy:

The aniridia 5K supports the vision for tomorrow foundation, which supports research and awareness for those born with Aniridia, like our daughter Haley (1:60,000), here is the link to their website

When: September 22

Registration starts: 7:30AM – 8:30AM

Race/Walk Starts: *8:30AM

Location: Manayunk Towpath - (Philadelphia, PA 19127) – there will be a new starting location (4539 Main St on GPS)

Click below to register:

Thanks to our amazing sponsors, we were able to offer the 2017 pricing again for the this year’s race!


Each person who registers will receive the official 2018 ANIRIDIA 5K T-SHIRT, CUSTOM UMBRELLA & Other giveaways. We also will have plenty of post-race refreshments (Philly Soft Pretzels, Bananas, Water, Beer (including locally crafted beer). We also have some pretty amazing winners prizes (overall M/F, Age Banded), the custom beer growlers for the top Male and Female winner, Aniridia 5K etched pint glasses, Gift Certificates to Philadelphia Runner, Medals and more…

~Mark Your Calendars~ 

-Elwyn Seeds Parent Partner Calendar & Coupon Book September 2018- The September 2018 Calendar has many free and low cost activities for families, all around the region. The Coupon Book is also worth taking a look at. There are "Kids eat Free" listings for the month of September, and fun ideas for using your  "ACCESS" card for $2 entry to local attractions. 

-Temple University's Institute on Disabilities is offering a free training for families of children who receive Infant-Toddler Early Intervention or pre-school Early Intervention services in Pennsylvania.  Learn to navigate the Pennsylvania Early Intervention System, identify best practice supports and connect with community resources.  Applicants should be Pennsylvania family members who:
  • Have a child—infant to school age­—who receives Early Intervention services.
  • Desire to advocate for themselves and others by building leadership skills.
  • Are willing to commit to ALL 4 two-day trainings. (Friday 1 to 9 PM and Saturday 8:30 AM to 3 PM)
FOR MORE INFORMATION, contact Cathy Roccia-Meier
Email:  Tel: 215-204-1772     or       
Register Now!
A one-stop resource shop all Philly parents should be aware of is CAP4Kids, developed by Dr. Daniel Taylor of St. Christopher's Hospital for Children. If you need something, you can find it there! Consider downloading Cap4Kids on your mobile device. It’s mobile friendly, so you can access help from anywhere. You can also sign up for Dr. Taylor's weekly emails which highlight different resources each week.

A recent email from Dr. Taylor describes hardships suffered by some Philadelphia families due to financial concerns. There are some neighborhoods where 70% of residents live below the poverty line. Many have housing issues that come from tenant/owner disputes, with tenants usually getting no representation.

On the website, under the Housing/Utilities tab, there is a whole section for Tenant Rights, including the newly developed Tenant Legal Aid Resource Hotline and the amazing Philly Tenant Resource Guide.

This is just one example of the many wonderful resources you will find at CAP4Kids. Do download the app today!
~Previously Shared Resources~ 
Look here in the months to come for resource shared in the previous month. To find resources shared in the 2017-2018 school year, consult last school year's newsletters, or email me for a copy!
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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