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Brightside Program provides mentors for children with Down syndrome

While inclusion efforts have helped many children and adolescents with developmental disabilities participate in educational and community settings, some still feel socially isolated from their nondisabled peers. Kennedy Krieger's Brightside Program was developed to build self-esteem and foster relationships among children and adolescents with Down syndrome by creating opportunities for them to learn from young adults with the disorder. In doing so, the Brightside Program creates an atmosphere for children and adolescents to feel proud of their accomplishments.

The Brightside Program offers events and activities for children with Down syndrome between the ages of 6 and 17 years. Each child is paired with a young adult mentor with Down syndrome who accompanies and supports the child during activities, which can include trips to such destinations as the Maryland Science Center, Center Stage, the Baltimore Museum of Art, Ladew Garden, Stonemill Bakery and Orioles games. Thanks to volunteers from each of these organizations, the children and participants in the Brightside Program can enjoy learning opportunities designed to foster relationships, build self-esteem, as well as enhance communication and decision-making skills.

For more information on the Brightside Program, contact Mary Snyder-Vogel at 443-923-2812 or Stephanie King at 443-923-3238.

2nd Annual ROAR bike ride raises $100,000 for autism research

More than 300 bike riders came out on April 29 to support Kennedy Krieger Institute's second annual ROAR: Ride On for Autism Research event. The ride generated more than $100,000 for Kennedy Krieger research on autism, a disability that affects social, language and motor skill development in 1 in 166 children.

Participants chose between a 10-mile or 25-mile ride, both of which allowed riders to explore Baltimore up close and personal. The rides started at Harbor Point and traveled through the scenic streets and park areas of Baltimore City, including Federal Hill, the Inner Harbor, Little Italy, Canton, Mt. Vernon, and Roland Park. There was also a half-mile youth ride closed off to traffic, making this event possible for riders of all ages and riding abilities.

After crossing the finish line back at Harbor Point, everyone was treated to entertainment provided by Mix 106.5 as well as treats and goodies donated by Merritt Athletic Clubs, Shoppers Food Warehouse, Panera Bread, Coca-Cola, and Utz. Representatives from Princeton Sports and the Bike Doctor were also on hand to help with any bike concerns.

The Institute would like to thank all the families, friends and staff of Kennedy Krieger Institute that helped to make this event possible. For more information on next year's ROAR, please call 443-923-7300.

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