Featured Events:

ROAR 2024

ROAR 2024 was a great success! It was wonderful to see community members, their families, and Neurodiversity at Work team members at the Maryland Zoo for the event. Community members and families joined in the festivities by running or walking the 5k, or participating in the 1-mile fun walk. The day concluded with refreshments, and a fun day at the Zoo! 

Thank you to everyone who participated in the event, and made generous donations to support our team and helped us raise $7,724!

The funds raised make a significant impact on the individuals served through Neurodiversity at Work. Together, we can ROAR more loudly than ever and make a difference! We hope to see everyone join us again next year!

ROAR 2024

NAPSEC's Legislative Advocacy Day

Stacey Herman and Hannah Wayne recently attended The National Association of Private Special Education Centers (NAPSEC) Legislative Advocacy Day on May 8, 2024.

Hannah Wayne and Stacey Herman stand in front of the U.S. Capitol Building.

NAPSEC’s mission is to serve as the indispensable voice and premier resource for the private special education community. NAPSEC was established in 1971 as a nonprofit association with the vision of supporting access to appropriate special education programs as vital components of the continuum. NAPSEC currently represents over 200 programs nationally and over 800 at the state level in collaboration with our Council of Affiliated State Associations (CASA). NAPSEC members include private early intervention providers, schools, residential therapeutic centers, and adult service programs.

The legislative advocacy day provided opportunities for productive conversations and meetings with several Maryland legislators and their staffers. Stacey and Hannah focused on legislation that would support expanding services and funding to increase access for individuals with disabilities seeking supports through adult service providers. Neurodiversity at Work at Kennedy Krieger Institute and NAPSEC advocated for the following:

  • Recognizing the Role of Direct Support Professionals Act – H.R. 2941/ S. 1332
  • HCBS Access Act – H.R. 1493/ S. 762

As Neurodiversity at Work continues to focus on policy efforts, we look forward to Take your Legislator to Work Day, scheduled for Tuesday, October 8, 2024. Click here to learn more!

Project SEARCH 2024 Graduation

Eight graduates of Project SEARCH at the 2024 graduation.

Project SEARCH celebrated the 6th graduating cohort this month. Along with participating Kennedy Krieger Institute departments, all attendees shared in the excitement with the graduating class. Several distinguished speaker and guests included, Secretary Carol Beatty, Maryland Secretary for the Department of Disabilities, Dr. Bradley Schlaggar, President and CEO, Kennedy Krieger Institute, and Dr. Nancy Grasmick, Kennedy Krieger Institute Board Chair. 

Secretary Beatty highlighted the interns’ perseverance and the positive experiences from this year. She also shared her excitement about the future of the Neurodiversity at Work Department given the strong leadership of the entire team. Kennedy Krieger continues to be innovative in how the Institute supports adults with disabilities access their communities.  Following Secretary Beatty’s remarks, Jhonathan Rowe, a current Kennedy Krieger employee and former Project SEARCH intern at Kennedy Krieger Institute, shared his personal experiences and gave advice to the graduating class. Jhonathan encouraged the interns to use the tools they learned in Project SEARCH to pursue their dreams and identify each of their own paths to success. 

Each of the interns made remarks about their Project SEARCH experience. The interns shared about new job skills they learned and what they loved about their experience over the course of the Project SEARCH year.

The Neurodiversity at Work department is so proud of everything that this cohort of Project SEARCH interns accomplished!

Graduation closed out with remarks from Dr. Bradley Schlaggar, president & CEO of Kennedy Krieger Institute. He gave an inspiring speech that challenged the interns to keep growing and learning throughout their adult lives. The Neurodiversity at Work Department feels very grateful to everyone who helped to make this graduation ceremony spectacular!

Developmental Disabilities Day

A group of Neurodiversity at Work staff and community members in a selfie from Developmental Disabilities Day. They are sitting in a row of seats among a large crowd.

This year, Neurodiversity at Work staff and community members attended Developmental Disabilities Day at the legislature with the purpose to learn, advocate and network with over 700 advocates from around the state of Maryland. Governor Wes Moore and several champion legislators from throughout the state spoke about the work accomplished and the ongoing advocacy needed to address the issues raised by the disability community in legislation.

This year, Robert McHale, a CORE Foundations community member who is supported by Neurodiversity at Work, was invited to take part as a trainee in the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities program.

All trainees are exposed to aspects of disability awareness and advocacy education. The trainees are invited to join People On the Go Maryland policy advocates in meetings with legislators. Robert and other trainees in the program spoke with legislators to advocate for important issues such as pay rate increases for support staff, improved access to voting and removing transportation barriers that impact a person with a disability's ability to live, work and grow in the community.

Learn more about Developmental Disabilities Day


Upcoming Events:


Join Us! APSE Lunch with Leaders Virtual Sessions

The Association of People Supporting Employment First (APSE) is a membership organization with the purpose of improving employment outcomes for people with disabilities. One of our Maryland chapter efforts is to launch a collaborative outlet for professionals and leaders in the field to share news, experiences, and efforts on a wide variety of topics, that impact the individuals we both serve and advocate on behalf of called Lunch with Leaders.

Join us (virtually) the second Tuesday of each month, from 11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. to hear from leaders across the state of Maryland. Learn more and register here.


Past Events:

2023

National Disability Employment Awareness Month Recap

October was National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM)! The entire month was dedicated to celebrating employees with disabilities and the employers who support this group of employees on a daily basis. Neurodiversity at Work planned three NDEAM events to celebrate the success of community members in employment.

To kick off October, Neurodiversity at Work team members and local businesses partnered with Els for Autism for a hybrid Employer-to-Employer Summit. This event united current and prospective employers in a dynamic co-located event hosted simultaneously by Els for Autism in Jupiter, Florida, and Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, Maryland. Attendees heard from experts on recruiting, hiring, and retaining individuals with disabilities. Attendees also engaged in impactful discussions about how to break down barriers to employment for individuals with disabilities. At Kennedy Krieger Institute, the Project SEARCH interns joined us for a networking lunch!

Following the Employer-to-Employer Summit, the Neurodiversity at Work program participated in Take Your Legislator to Work Day! This event was hosted in collaboration with Seeking Employment Equality Community (SEEC). Neurodiversity at Work invited delegates to visit CORE Foundations community members at their places of employment. There they spoke to community members about their employment experiences, including strengths and challenges. Delegates also spoke with the employers to learn about inclusive hiring practices and the benefits of a diverse workforce. The legislators visited Meals on Wheels, Tino's, The Nook Café, and Kennedy Krieger Institute. A special thank you to Delegate Stephanie Smith, Delegate Caylin Young, Delegate Robbyn Lewis, and Delegate Jessica Feldmark for joining us on Take your Legislator to Work Day. Thank you to the community businesses that welcomed everyone and engaged in supportive and productive conversations. 

To further celebrate NDEAM, Neurodiversity at Work planned a Ledo Pizza fundraiser night at three locations to raise money to continue to enhance the services we are able to provide! We are already looking forward to planning NDEAM for 2024! 

Learn More About NDEAM


Maryland Works Employment Awards Luncheon: CORE Foundation Receives Provider of the Year Award

Six members of the Neurodiversity at Work Team receive the Provider of the Year award at the luncheon. The standing side by side in front of a black banner, which sits below a arch of red, gold, silver and black balloons.

Maryland Works hosted their annual employment awards luncheon on October 30. This year's event, themed "The Breaking Barriers Masquerade", highlighted individuals and organizations that have done an exceptional job of overcoming and conquering obstacles related to employment.

At the event, the Neurodiversity at Work leadership team accepted the Provider of the Year award on behalf of the entire department. Congratulations to the entire Neurodiversity at Work team for your commitment and dedication to providing meaningful services and supports! Thank you to our families who nominated our program, we were honored to receive such a prestigious recognition. 


National Disability Employment Awareness Month

National Disability Employment Awareness Month. Disability Part of the Equity Equation. #NDEAM DOL.gov/ODEP


During the month of October, Neurodiversity at Work at Kennedy Krieger Institute celebrates National Disability Employment Awareness Month! This month, we honor the many contributions people with disabilities make to America’s workplaces, the economy, and showcase inclusive workplace policies that benefit both employers and employees! Learn More.


A rectangular collage of four photos from Direct Support Professional Appreciation Week

Direct Support Professional Appreciation Week
We had such a great time celebrating Direct Support Professional Appreciation Week! During the week of September 11-15, the Neurodiversity at Work department recognized direct support team members each day. Throughout the week, direct support professionals received new Kennedy Krieger swag items, an individualized Kudoboard from leadership, staff, and families, lunch in the community with a leadership team member, gift of time, and much more! We are so grateful for each of the direct support professionals who are part of the Neurodiversity at Work team. Thank you for providing meaningful and engaging services and supports to CORE Foundations and Project SEARCH community members each and every day!


People On the Go Maryland Conference

Three women sitting down smile for a photo at the People on the Maryland Conference.

People On the Go Maryland hosted their bi-annual conference last month, with Neurodiversity at Work being one of their sponsors! The theme for their conference was “Breaking Barriers: The Mission of an Advocate. The” People On the Go Maryland conference offered five different track sessions, including Health, Safety and Wellness, Advocacy, and a session for direct support professionals to participate in.

At the conference, they held a panel discussion, titled “In The Life of a DSP”, that surrounded the positive aspects and experiences of direct support professionals. Two of the Neurodiversity at Work direct support professionals, Grace and Tierra, were panelist and brought their expertise and passion to the discussion. They did an amazing job talking about their direct support professional role, supports and strategies that Neurodiversity at Work promote, and provided wonderful insight to session participants. Way to go Tierra and Grace!


Takoma Radio

Robin talks into a microphone inside of a press box at baseball game. He is sitting between two men.

Robin, a CORE Foundations community member, has his own radio show, Robin's Radio Show, on Takoma Radio! He hosts his show every other Saturday from 8-9 a.m. You can tune in live on WOWD - 94.3 FM on your radio dial, if you are in the Takoma Park area. Robin's Radio Show is also available online through the link below. You can listen later by searching archives on the website. Shows are archived for two weeks. Each show Robin shares his stories, jokes, and plays music! The Neurodiversity at Work team looks forward to his shows, and are always excited about the great music he plays! Click here to learn more about Takoma Radio, and click here to check out Robin’s Radio Show's schedule.


Neurodiversity at Work Field Day

A collage of five photos from Neurodiversity at Work Field Day.

Neurodiversity at Work held its first annual Field Day! Community members came together from across the program to spend the day at Kennedy Krieger Institute's Greenspring Campus! 

Field Day started bright and early at 10 a.m.! It was an all day event that community members and staff participated in events that included, sponge relay, spell-it noodles, DIY t-shirts, bowling, coloring, cool down station, and even an accessible obstacle course! With the support of staff, community members were split into small groups which gave everyone an opportunity to explore all stations. Some stations required community members to work together to get the job done! One of these stations was the spell-it noodles, everyone worked exceptionally well to spell out words and write out phrases. Although there were many fun activities, the DIY t-shirts and obstacle course were definitely everyone's favorite stations!

Staff and community members had lunch and spent quality time together. Coincidentally, it was also a community member, Joshua's birthday that day. His parents were very kind and brought a cake for him to share with everyone at Field Day! To end the day, all community members received gold medals for their participation! Everyone did such a great job! 

Thank you to Kaitlyn Maynard, Kimberly Hubscher, Rebecca Colangelo, Sumaiyah Mahmoodi, and Vanessa William for planning such an amazing day! The Neurodiversity at Work team hopes to plan more events such as this one in the coming months!


Night at the Ballpark

Three Night at the Ballpark attendees stand for a photo on the concourse at Leidos Field at Ripken Stadium. The playing field can be seen behind them.

The Neurodiversity at Work community, friends, families, partners, and institute colleagues gathered at Leidos Field at Ripken Stadium for the Aberdeen IronBirds 70’s night baseball game! Neurodiversity at Work was the game day sponsors. Timaron threw the first pitch to start off a wonderful evening. Timaron got the crowd up on their feet with his excitement and enthusiasm! Robin demonstrated his comfort and expertise in the announcing booth as a guest announcer for one inning! Robin, you did a phenomenal job announcing game statistics and sharing each player who came to bat. Amazing job, Robin! This is always a favorite event of the year. Thank you, Aberdeen IronBirds, for being a great collaborator! If you were not able to make it, we hope you will join next year! 

Click here to check out future Aberdeen IronBirds games.


Project SEARCH 2023 Graduation

A group of 2023 Project SEARCH Graduation ceremony attendees standout in front of a purple backdrop with the Kennedy Krieger Institute logo.

Another Project SEARCH graduation in the books! Graduation began with opening remarks from Dr. Bradley Schlaggar, president & CEO of Kennedy Krieger Institute. He highlighted the perseverance and the positive experiences of each of the interns this year! Following Dr. Schlaggar’s remarks, Will Frisinger, a former Project SEARCH at Kennedy Krieger Institute intern and graduate, shared his personal experiences and gave advice to the graduating class. Will encouraged the interns to be kind and pursue their dreams.

Each of the interns made remarks about their Project SEARCH experience. The interns shared about new job skills they learned and what they loved about their experience over the course of the Project SEARCH year. We are so proud of everything that this cohort of Project SEARCH interns accomplished! Graduation closed out with remarks from our collaborative partners in Maryland. Kasey Venn, from the Developmental Disabilities Administration, gave an inspiring speech that challenged the interns to keep growing and learning throughout their adult lives. The Neurodiversity at Work Department feels very grateful to everyone who helped to make this graduation ceremony spectacular!

Learn more here.


ROAR 2023

The Neurodiversity at Work team poses for a photo at ROAR 2023.

ROAR was a huge success! It was wonderful to see community members, their families, and Neurodiversity at Work team members at Oregon Ridge Park for the event. Community members joined in the festivities by running or walking the 5k, or participating in the 1-mile walk. 

Thank you to everyone who made generous donations to support our team and helped us raise $9,211!

Although ROAR is over, there is still time to make a donation to the Neurodiversity at Work team through the link below! The funds raised make a significant impact on the individuals served through Neurodiversity at Work. Together, we can ROAR more loudly than ever and make a difference.

Click here to donate to our department!


The Children's Inn at the National Institutes of Health (NIH)The Children's Inn at NIH logo.

The Children’s Inn at National Institutes of Health highlighted Timaron and his dedication to their volunteer program! Read the article below to learn more about Timaron’s hard work and how much he is appreciated by the Children’s Inn.

Read the article here.

 


A Collaborative National Conference Kennedy Krieger Institute

A group poses for a photo at the 2023 Neurodiversity in the Workplace Conference.

The Neurodiversity in the Workplace Conference was a tremendous success! Over 300 individuals from across the United States, Canada, and territory of Puerto Rico, met in Washington, D.C. to collaborate and promote best practices for supporting individuals with disabilities in community and workplace environments. We were thrilled to see so many Neurodiversity at Work community members and families at the conference!

Will, a CORE Foundations community member, and his father Darren, volunteered their time to hand out welcome bags to incoming guests at the registration desk. Will and Darren, thank you for helping to create a welcoming experience for each attendee!

Dr. Brad Schlaggar, President and CEO of Kennedy Krieger Institute, moderated a plenary panel. Sydney, Nygil, Oscar, Ethan, and Tyler offered their perspectives on the importance of the inclusion of people with disabilities in the workforce. The five panelists shared their employment experiences and described the supports they have received from the Neurodiversity at Work department. Each panelist provided remarkable insight and the audience was inspired about future employment opportunities for all individuals.

It was wonderful to also see the McHale family (Brian Sr., Brian Jr., and Robby) attend the conference! They appreciated hearing from keynote speakers, Cody Clark and Harish Bikmal. Cody Clark is an autism self-advocate and professional magician! Harish is the CEO of Zenaviv, a company he founded to support his son's artistic abilities. Zenaviv has grown into an organization that supports many neurodiverse artists.

We are fortunate to have community members and families who are always willing to spend time learning about new perspectives and experiences!

Click here to view the conference closing remarks!


Washington Business Journal Feature

Washington Business Journal Feature

Viewpoint: Neurodiverse employees play role in today’s workplaces, too.

"Our purpose is grand: We want to facilitate change". Stacey Herman assistance vice president of Neurodiversity and community workforce development, wrote a piece for the Washington Business Journal about the many benefits to increasing employment for individuals with disabilities in the workplace. Read the article by Stacey Herman here.


Fox 45 News Feature

Fox 45 News Feature

The Importance of Hiring Neurodiverse People

Stacey Herman, assistant vice president of the neurodiversity and community workforce development, and Brian McHale, parent of two Project SEARCH graduates spoke about the mission and success of the Neurodiversity at Work department at Kennedy Krieger Institute. Additionally, Stacey spoke about the Neurodiversity at Work National Conference that will be happening next week. Watch the interview here.


WYPR: Neurodiversity and Inclusion in the Workplace

WYPR

Stacey Herman, assistant vice president of neurodiversity and community workforce development, and Brian and Robby McHale, Neurodiversity at Work community members, were "On the Record" with Sheilah Kast of WYPR. They discussed the value that individuals with disabilities bring to the workforce and strategies that businesses can implement to have a more inclusive workplace. Brian and Robby spoke about their experience working together at Ripken Stadium. Listen to the interview here.


FOX 5 Field Trip: Interview at Red Wiggler Farm

Fox 5

Stacey Herman, assistant vice president of neurodiversity and community workforce development spoke with Fox 45 at Red Wiggler Farm. Red Wiggler Farm has employed adults with disabilities for over 26 years and the business is a partner of Kennedy Krieger Institute. They are also presenting at the Neurodiversity in the Workplace Conference next week in Washington, D.C. Watch the interview here.

 

2022

Screenshot of the Afro-American story featuring Nygil.

Neurodiversity at Work Program Highlighted by Media Outlets

The Neurodiversity at Work program has recently been highlighted on several media platforms. Learn more about the program and impact it is having on our community and the community members.

WJZ-TV CBS News Baltimore news recently featured Kennedy Krieger's Institute's Neurodiversity at Work program, highlighting Tyler Shallue, a COVID-19 health screener at the Institute, and Robbie McHale, a Project SEARCH graduate. Click here to watch the video!

The Baltimore AFRO-American highlighted Project SEARCH, our 10-month transition program for 18- to 24-year-olds with disabilities. As part of its profile of the program, the story features Nygil Simms, a Project SEARCH alumni who is now employed by the International Center for Spinal Cord Injury at Kennedy Krieger Institute and Nia Wallace, a Project SEARCH collaborator. Click here to read the story

The Baltimore Business Journal featured an op-ed by Stacey Herman, assistant vice president of neurodiversity and community workforce development at the Kennedy Krieger Institute. Read the story here

2021

John Good Featured in Potential Magazine

In the Fall/Winter 2021 issue of Potential, John Good tells readers about two podcasts he developed during his Project SEARCH internship with Kennedy Krieger’s Marketing and Communications Department, including “The Good Intern Show” and the “Life with Disabilities.” John also writes about learning valuable skills for living independently. Click here to read his story.

The Institute's magazine, Potential informs readers about the latest institute news and advances in research, patient care, special education, and community programs; it also provides inspirational articles on the achievements of Kennedy Krieger's patients.


Screenshot of National Disability Employment Awareness Month Zoom call.

National Disability Employment Awareness Month

Community Action: Breaking Down Barriers

Kennedy Krieger Institute hosted their annual National Disability Employment Awareness Month event, celebrating the skills and talents of individuals of all abilities as part of the workforce. Kennedy Krieger Institute’s Neurodiversity at Work program takes a multi-faceted approach to increasing employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities. The event featured Andy Arias, Policy Advisor from Office of Disability Employment Policy, and the premiere screening of The Cliff. The Cliff is a feature documentary following a group of neurodiverse young adults navigating the hoped for and feared high school graduation. Parents refer to this event as: The Cliff. These young folks and their families navigate this right of passage with joy, sadness, humor, and hope. This film featured graduates from Kennedy Krieger Institute School Programs and Project SEARCH at Kennedy Krieger Institute.

The screening was followed by a panel of individuals who were featured in the film and closing remarks from Deputy Secretary Christian Miele from the Maryland Department of Disabilities.

Sponsored by: Maryland Department of Disabilities


Screening: The Cliff

Filmmaker: Jon J. Ryan

Screenshot of the film, The Cliff.

A feature documentary following a group of neurodiverse young adults navigating the hoped for and feared high school graduation. Parents refer to this event as: The Cliff. After high school, funding, government support, and social groups drop off as these young adults plummet into the uncharted world of adult care services. These young folks and their families navigate this right of passage with joy, sadness, humor, and hope. This film features graduates from Kennedy Krieger Institute School Programs and Project SEARCH at Kennedy Krieger Institute.

Access the film here


Maryland Project SEARCH Conference 2021

Project SEARCH virtual conference August 2021 screenshot.Maryland’s Project SEARCH programs came together on August 19 for their annual kick-off conference sponsored by the Maryland Department of Disabilities, with 68 attendees from across the state’s 14 program sites. This virtual event brought together business partners, adult service providers, school program representatives, the Maryland Department of Rehabilitation Services, the Maryland Developmental Disabilities Administration and leaders of organizations from across Maryland to network, discuss innovative practices and expand programming opportunities. The keynote event was storytelling by graduates of Maryland’s Project SEARCH programs, who shared their personal stories of employment and empowerment throughout their Project SEARCH journeys. Sean Roy, chief training and innovation officer at TransCen, Inc., engaged attendees in a lunch-and-learn about family engagement, the employment process and collaboration opportunities for the future. The highlight of the conference was the premiere of a video about the successes and celebrations of Maryland’s Project SEARCH programs. Click here to watch the video and learn more about Project SEARCH.

Screenshot of presentation at PROJECT search virtual conference August 2021.

John Good – Public Service Announcement

John Good recently created a public service announcement to inform the public about COVID-19. John provided facts, tips and much more! When asked about the process of creating the PSA John said, “It was a slow process, and I did face some challenges throughout the process of making the video.” However, John also shared that he enjoyed the experience of creating the PSA. John shared, “I enjoyed making the PSA and I would love to do it again!”

This video is an example of a participant project. The information in this video may no longer be accurate.


Storycorp screenshot featuring Becca Colangelo, Assistant Director of Meaningful Community Services, and Tyler Shallue and John Good, Meaningful Community Services community members.StoryCorps

Becca Colangelo, Assistant Director of Meaningful Community Services, and Tyler Shallue and John Good, Meaningful Community Services community members, came together to discuss their work at Project SEARCH with StoryCorps. They talk about their experience at Project SEARCH, personal accomplishments, future goals, and more!

Tyler and John enjoyed the opportunity to share their stories and experiences with other people. Tyler said, “I feel like our world needs to recognize our different stories, but in a more accepting, respectful manner. Unfortunately, far too many people in the community have been mistreated simply because of who they are. We need to better educate our society on what it really means to treat people with dignity and respect.”  John loved his experience creating his podcast through his internship with Kennedy Krieger Institutes’ marketing and public relations department. He said, “I loved going through the process of making the podcast. I liked that I was interviewing people.”

Tyler, John, and Becca were excited that their recording is archived in the Library of Congress. They can go back and listen to it 50 years from now!


Tyler Shallue wears a mask at his job. Meaningful Community Services Employment

Many Meaningful Community Services community members are either returning to work or beginning a new job. We asked each of them to share their experience.

Griffin recently started a position with People on the Go as a social media assistant. He said “I love that I am able to work on my own pace at work and I feel satisfied when I get things done.”

John returned to his work with Kennedy Krieger Institutes facilities department. John shared “I have been focused since returning back to work. I like to sanitize and wipe down the tables in the Nook. I am trying to take care of myself and look forward to getting my income.”

Tyler started a new job with Training & eTracking Solutions. He said, “I like working because it makes my daily life productive, allows me to meet new people, and helps me reach my goals.”

DeVonte’ returned to work as a bagger with Giant. DeVonte’ said, “I like my coworkers and I get along with almost everyone. I like working and I hope I get more hours.”


Paratrek CEO Visit

The founder and CEO of Paratrek, Omer Zur, joined us in our virtual group session to share his experiences on how he started his company. While traveling and climbing the Tibet mountain in 2005, he found his life passion. Omer wanted to create and develop treks and outdoor adventures for all those who wished to go hiking, but have not been able to do so due to a disability. Paratrek became an organization where a group of people, with or without a disability, can come together to explore non-accessible terrains together. He designed a wheelchair that can climb every mountain. What a great way to bring those who enjoy the outdoors and hiking together!


Return To The Community

During the last week of March, we welcomed community members back into the community. This has been an exciting transition for staff, families, and the community members. Community members have enjoyed seeing each other again and meeting new people. They look forward to being outside and hopefully finding a job so they can start making their own money. It has been a phenomenal week back into the community. We can’t wait to have everyone back together again!

We asked community members to highlight their experiences being back in the community and their responses are as follows:

“I have enjoyed talking to different staff and being able to work. Being back in the community makes me feel happy and I like being able to see my friends at Project SEARCH.” -Tony (Project Search Intern)

“Seeing people and hanging out with friends.” – Hanson (Employment Services Community Member)

“Enjoying outside time and seeing new people.” – Jamia (Community Development Services Community Member)

“Graduating from Project SEARCH and finding a job to make money.” - Tony (Project Search Intern)

“Hopefully getting a job” – Hanson (Employment Services Community Member)

“Seeing the birds and ducks the most.” -Jamia (Community Development Services Community Member)


Parent/Caregiver Week

Parents Week Zoom screenshot.We celebrated Parent/Caregiver week from March 22-26! We kicked off the week by welcoming parents and caregivers to our virtual group sessions for career day. Our guests talked about the work they do, how they got started in their careers, and what they enjoy about their jobs.

Throughout the week, community members learned about topics related to families including household responsibilities. Community members each chose a chore they typically would not complete to help around the house. We also facilitated discussions about healthy relationships and parenting. Later in the week, community members participated in a cooking activity where they made a bag of trail mix for their parents/caregiver. We ended the week on a high note by inviting parents and caregivers to join our group lunch session for baby photo trivia!


On Today’s Forecast

Scientific programmer Meredith Nichols from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) joined us in our virtual group session to talk to us about weather. She went over what meteorology is, talked about what a meteorologist does and explained why we should care about the weather. Meredith emphasized that weather patterns impact both health and transportation. She also mentioned the effects weather has on agriculture and farmers. We are all looking forward to the warner weather and opportunities to get outside in the Spring!


Baltimore Technology Group

Jim Merritt from Baltimore Technology Group joined us in our virtual group session to talk to us about his employment journey to becoming the CEO of his company. He highlighted how his military service helped him develop strong leadership abilities and how working within his family's businesses helped him learn about hard work and customer service. His strong entrepreneurial spirit allowed him to be the successful business owner he is today!


Grab your paint brush!

Artist Courtney Tonelson joined us in our virtual group session to share her experiences as an art student. She went over what water color is, explained how easy it is to work with water colors and showed a video demonstration of water color painting in action. She also shared her artwork of both humans and animals to give us a glimpse into her world as a creator of art!


Developmental Disability Day at the Legislature

Meaningful Community Services celebrated Developmental Disabilities Day at the Legislature. This year, Developmental Disabilities Day was extended to a week long event of virtual advocacy and opportunities for information and connection with legislators. Meaningful Community Services staff and community members joined the kick-off event to hear from legislatures and learn more about legislation that impacts individuals with disabilities. Following the event, community members came together for a virtual session where we learned more about what a bill is, what advocacy is, and how we can advocate for ourselves and others. 


MCS Professional Development Day

Stacey Johnson and Ryan High from Kennedy Krieger High School and Alicia Pereschuck from BHS joined us during our remote staff professional day. Our colleagues from the high school talked about positive behavior interventions and strategies we can use in the virtual setting and as we increase time in the community. Our second guest speaker, Alicia, talked to us about managing stress during difficult times and building our own self-care toolkit. She reviewed how our bodies respond to stress, discussed several strategies to help reduce our stress response and offered suggestions on building our own self-care toolkit. Thank you to our guest speakers for the wonderful information they shared!

Following our guest speakers, staff members shared Inspirational Acts of Goodness to recognize one another for their ongoing efforts in our program. To end off our session, the team participated in a Sweet and Sour activity, where everyone highlighted a success, small win, or something positive in their life as well as a current obstacle they are facing. It was wonderful to be able to spend time together as a team!


Monthly Nutrition Lessons Continue

We continue to enjoy our monthly nutrition lessons! Andrea Heyman from Kennedy Krieger Institutes Nutrition Department joined us for a virtual group session to talk to us about serving sizes. She reminded everyone why nutrition guidelines are important, showed us what a standard food plate should look like, and shared how portion sizes have significantly increased throughout the years. Andrea also explained the difference between a portion size and a serving size, and introduced new ways to determine if we have healthy portion size of food.


 

Project SEARCH in the News

Meaningful Community Services made it to the big screen! WBAL-TV 11, a local Baltimore TV station, picked up on the great work that John Good was doing in his Project SEARCH internship.  John is currently working with the marketing team at Kennedy Krieger to create podcasts about the experiences of Kennedy Krieger employee. John and Stacey Herman, the director of post-secondary services, were interviewed by WBAL to talk about the importance of hiring a neurodiverse workforce.  We were all excited to see the interview air on TV!  For upcoming podcasts, John is going to focus on interviewing individuals with disabilities to learn more about their experience in the workplace. Congrats to John and Stacey for all of their hard work!

Watch the interview here.

2020

Disability Rights Maryland Virtual Group Session

Tracy Wright from Disability Rights Maryland joined us in our virtual group session to talk to us about voting. She reminded everyone about the importance of voting, talked to the group about the difference between primary and general elections, and went over the process of how to vote. She informed everyone about requesting mail-in ballots, and how to find out where you can go and vote in your community!


National Disability Employment Awareness Month Virtual Event

To celebrate National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), we co-hosted a virtual event with SEEC and Companions Inc., Adjusting to a Virtual World: Working During COVID-19. We were joined by Secretary Tiffany Robinson from the Department of Labor as our keynote speaker. The event included two panel discussions with individuals who identify as having a disability and Direct Support Professionals from each organization sharing their experiences and insight on working during COVID. The virtual platform allowed the event to reach a wide variety of people from across the country.

This annual celebration helps provide opportunities for individuals to share advice and strategies that businesses can use to support individuals with disabilities in gaining paid employment. One of our panelists was Kathryn St. George, who is a Community Development Specialist with Kennedy Krieger Institute. She spoke about her experience supporting individuals with disabilities in the community. She shared how her goal was to communicate to everyone listening the importance of using a multi-disciplinary approach to overcome challenges and setbacks.


Direct Support Professionals Week:

 

 

We celebrated Direct Support Professionals Appreciation week from September 19-25. To help us celebrate, we had the wonderful Orioles mascot join our staff meeting!

We learned fun facts about the Orioles team, played trivia, and had a contest to see who decorated a picture of the Orioles mascot the best! We had a variety of different artistic styles when it came to the design of the bird; while some people went the traditional route, others incorporated the Kennedy Krieger colors and values. In the end, Stephanie Skeen, Employment Training Specialist with Project SEARCH won!


ASL Group Session

We had an American Sign Language interpreter, Ashly Drumwright, join us for our group session with all of our community members! We all enjoyed and appreciated the different signs she taught us. Ashly shared her experiences growing up as a CODA (Child or a Deaf Adult) and how that makes her feel special and unique. She taught our community members many signs such as thank you, I love you, and more!



Aberdeen IronBirds: "A Night at the Ballpark" Event

The Aberdeen IronBirds recently hosted the virtual “A Night at the Ballpark” event to benefit Kennedy Krieger’s CORE Foundations and Project SEARCH programs.

The event featured a silent auction, raffle, family friendly games, and proved to be a huge success: over $3,000 was raised to support individuals with disabilities obtain and maintain meaningful employment and community engagement.
 


Meaningful Community Services Talent Show:

We held a virtual Meaningful Community Services Talent Show! Our community members shared their talents in singing, dancing, telling jokes, shooting basketball hoops, and sharing their favorite songs. It was wonderful to see all of the talents shared by our community!

 


 

Mid-Day Mindfulness  

We have started incorporating mindfulness activities into our virtual support sessions. By practicing mindfulness together, we can grow stronger individually and as a community. We recently completed a 5-minute meditation that focused on identifying how we were feeling in that moment.

Each of our community members said they enjoyed the exercise and look forward to continuing to practice mindfulness!


Forever Radio Tour  

CORE Foundations and Project SEARCH received a virtual hands-on tour of Forever Radio by radio personality Kait Waybright of 97.1 The Wave. Steve Monz, operations director and afternoon personality also joined to record community members saying the radio tagline and prepare it for broadcast. The best part was the opportunity to be “live” on air through Zoom!



Project SEARCH Town Hall

All 14 Maryland Project SEARCH Programs came together for a collaborative, interactive, and meaningful town hall event to discuss and brainstorm re-opening strategies, business engagement, remote internships, and more.

With over 50 participants, it was a morning filled with energy and enthusiasm as we plan to welcome our 2020-2021 Project SEARCH Cohorts.

 

 

Musical Performances

We were joined by a musical guest, Kierra "KK" Kimmie, Kierra is a formerly board certified music therapist with several years of experience and classical training. Kierra performed 'The Circle of Life' from The Lion King as well as 'Sugar' by Maroon 5. Kierra discussed the many instruments she plays including percussion, keyboard, and stringed instruments.

Many of our community members shared aspirations to be performers and she encouraged all of our community members to work hard and persevere to meet their goals. We have been joined by a variety of musicians over the last several months, and a favorite of our community members.



AMA Collaborations

Talking about diversity, equity, and inclusion is an important conversation to have on multiple levels. Stacey Herman, director of post-secondary services participated as a panelist on the AMA Baltimore diversity and inclusion event, where she focused on the topic of neurodiverse individuals represented in the workplace, community, and marketing.

She was joined by co-panelists Javier Von Westphalen, Julie Higgins, and Sylvia Long-Tolbert who shared their perspectives and expertise about a wide range of DEI topics.



Getting Back to Work

Meaningful Community Services continues to support those employed in our community, and we are excited to share Oscar’s story!

Hi! My name is Oscar Martinez. My favorite part about the week is doing Zoom sessions, and going back to work at PetCo. I learned how to get back to work and be safe. I learned not to touch my face, nose or eyes because we have to stay safe and not get sick. I am looking forward to being friendly to my coworkers, customers and managers.
 



Project SEARCH 2019-2021 Graduation Ceremony

Congratulations to the 2019-2020 Project SEARCH at Kennedy Krieger Institute Cohort! We are so proud of your hard work, dedication, and commitment to your future. We were thrilled to celebrate and honor your accomplishments over the past year! We appreciated the Kennedy Krieger Institute Community coming together virtually to celebrate! .



Independence Fair:

A photo of a Scrabble board, with the pieces spelling out the word "Resource"


Every year, CORE Foundations participates in the Road to Independence Fair. This year, the fair has gone virtual!

Visit the Road to Independence Fair website to learn about valuable resources available to help individuals with disabilities who are transitioning into the workforce and/or higher education.



Introducing Virtual Support Services

Virtual Support Services are interactive sessions, designed to support an individual achieve personal goals related to independent living, job development, community engagement, health and wellness, problem-solving, and communication skills.

Individuals are paired with one of our qualified and trained Employment Training Specialist or Community Development Specialist.


 

Provider Technical Assistance Package


CORE Foundations recently presented Getting Started: Virtual Support Services, a one-hour training for adult service providers on virtual support services.

 

A photo of a Scrabble board, with the pieces spelling out the word "Resource"

The training session taught adult service providers best practices for implementation of virtual support services.

Contact Stacey Herman at Hermanst@KennedyKrieger.org if you are interested in learning more about our Technical Assistance Package.



Mock Interviews

Project SEARCH interns participate in mock interviews via Zoom

With the changing landscape of employer recruitment, Project SEARCH interns had a hands-on experience of participating in virtual interviews with employers from across the state of Maryland.

We thank the many businesses who joined us, and who continue to promote neurodiversity in the workplace.

We are proud of the Project SEARCH interns and their commitment and dedication to obtaining meaningful employment in their communities.



Maryland ABLE Webinar

CORE Foundations participates in the Maryland ABLE webinar via Zoom

CORE Foundations recently hosted Kelly Nelson for a webinar about Maryland ABLE accounts.

We had 32 participates join us virtually for an informative session on ways to help individuals with disabilities save money and pay for qualified disability-related expenses. 



Business Advisory Council

A recent Business Advisory Council meeting, held over Zoom

Our Business Advisory Council supports Project SEARCH interns and CORE community members by hosting mock interviews, industry tours and job trials while also connecting us to community businesses.

In light of COVID-19, we held our most recent Business Advisory Council meeting virtually.

Interested in becoming a member of the Business Advisory Council? Email Schmaus@KennedyKrieger.org



COVID-19 Relief Small Fund Grant

A Post-Secondary Program participant with activity books provided by the Arc of Maryland grant

CORE Foundations was awarded a COVID-19 Relief Small Fund Grant from the Arc of Maryland and Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council to provide comfort and activity items for individuals we serve in our community.

Community members received planting kits, pine car derbies, activity books, fitness bands and more!

We were grateful to be awarded the grant and support our meaningful community!