Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A Special Thank You from Sherri Shepherd

YAI Network spokesperson and The View co-host Sherri Shepherd would like to extend a heartfelt thanks to everyone in the community who has registered for the 2010 YAI and Broadview Networks Central Park Challenge and supported YAI’s fundraising efforts. Thanks to your tremendous response, the Central Park Challenge is sure to be a huge success! Check out what Sherri has to say!




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It's the Final Countdown!

YAI and Broadview Networks 25th Annual Central Park Challenge is only 10 days away! Can you believe it? Well, neither can we! Join YAI staff, sponsors, family, friends and members of the community as we rally together in Central Park on Saturday June 5, 2010. Whether you are participating in the 5k Run, the 3k Walk or enjoying time in the Kids Play Area, you are guaranteed to have a fantastic day, all while supporting YAI’s programs and mission.

Don’t miss out! Spread the word to friends, family and coworkers and register TODAY!




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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Doing Good and Looking Great!

There is no better way to let the world know that you are participating in YAI’s 2010 Central Park Challenge than by sporting an official t-shirt, designed by ultra-chic fashion designer, Kay Unger. All CPC participants who fundraise $25 or more will get a shirt in their size! 

Kay designed the yellow shirt for kids and the navy shirt for adults.




So what are you waiting for? Wear your heart on your sleeve when you register for the 2010 Central Park Challenge TODAY!  Get ready to walk, run and change lives for people with disabilities.



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Jaden Rallies for Autism Services!

Jaden, the little boy with autism who is raising awareness about the 2010 Central Park Challenge, has his work cut out for him.

Though only 3-years-old, Jaden joined his parents and YAI Network staff, at a rally on Tuesday on the steps of City Hall urging the New York City Council to continue its $1.575 million city-wide autism initiative serving families not eligible for other public support. Staff from more than 20 other service providers, parents of children with autism, individuals of all ages and New York City Councilman Mark Weprin also participated in the rally.

Because autism has reached epidemic proportions, the YAI Network must plan ahead to meet the needs and services of this ever-growing population. The Central Park Challenge is one way that we do this. While research continues for a cure, there’s evidence that early intervention, detection and treatment enhance the quality of life of children on the spectrum. Parent education and awareness is critical to ensure that these children receive the appropriate services.

Thanks to the funding, the YAI Network over the last year was able to host free autism family support and training programs for parents of children on the spectrum, a full-day conference on autism, featuring some of the nation’s most prominent authorities, a full-day conference entirely in Spanish to train families, caregivers and professionals in the field, and many other programs.

“I feel so lucky to be involved with YAI and have access to these great conferences and workshops,” said Sandra Vasquez-Lugo, Jaden's mom. “This initiative lets people know there’s help out there and that’s so important for families dealing with autism.”  

“The City Council's autism initiative funding has been so critical in ensuring that parents learn about and gain access to the services that can make a tremendous difference in their child's quality of life,”  said Marco Damiani, Senior Director of Clinical and Family Services for YAI/National Institute for People with Disabilities, a member of the YAI Network. “Until there's a cure, this funding is important to assure families that there is hope."

Support Team Jaden's fundraising efforts today!


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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Runners: Last Chance to Save $10!

Will you be running the 5K at the Central Park Challenge on June 5? Register through May 20 and pay only $20. After that, the registration fee will go up to $30!

Register today and enjoy a great race, for a great cause!


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Friday, May 7, 2010

This is the Real Reason We are Supporting the Central Park Challenge

During tough economic times, people with disabilities are traditionally the group that is hit the hardest. For hundreds of thousands of people across the United States, this could ultimately spell a human rights disaster. This isn't far-reaching hysteria. Incarceration, abuse and degradation are within the living memory of many people with developmental disabilities. For some, it's still happening.

At YAI's International Conference last week, three former "patients" at Willowbrook, the notorious institution on Staten Island, presented art to Geraldo Rivera as a thank-you for exposing the horrors that they lived with every single day.

Today, the Staten Island Real-Time News published an interview with the three Willowbrook survivors, David, Barbara and Franklin (who all now reside in YAI community-based residences), including their recollections of their days in the institution.

If you were a patient in Building 5, you risked burning to death in the shower. Or being tossed from your cold, metal bed onto the even colder floor in the middle of the night. And forget about warm meals - if you were fed at all. Read the full story.

Returning to conditions like this is not an option. Form a Central Park Challenge Team or support YAI with a donation today.

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Thursday, May 6, 2010

Plan a Family Day with centralpark.com!

The Central Park Challenge is a great family event in one of the greatest parks in the world. But the good memories don't have to stop there! The CPC wraps up around noon, so why not make a day of being in Central Park? Check out the Wildlife Conservation Society's Zoo, explore the playgrounds, celebrate your unbirthday with Alice or pretend to get lost in the forest of the Ramble. You can even explore a real castle!centralpark.com

Pack a picnic, sunscreen and a camera and spend the day enjoying New York City's great outdoors for free or very little money. For more information on these and hundreds of other attractions and activities, visit centralpark.com, which also has maps, directions and everything else you need to know!



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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

A Walk--and a Push--for His Brother

In the picture: Roberto and Marco are front and center with their mom (far left), dad (far right) and family friends.

Like a lot of brothers, Roberto and Marco like wrestling and playing together. "When I wrestle with Marco and pick him up, that makes him happy," says Roberto, 9, who seems to have a special window into what his little brother is thinking. So it's no surprise that Roberto became an enthusiastic supporter of the Central Park Challenge a few years ago when Marco attended the YAI Network's Roosevelt Children's Center, a preschool for children who need a lot of medical and staff support. Marco, who is 5, has multiple disabilities, including blindness, as a result of Sturge-Weber syndrome. 

Marco graduated from Roosevelt last year and now attends a school at the Jewish Guild for the Blind. But Roberto didn't see why his family shouldn't keep supporting the Central Park Challenge. "Roberto loves wearing his Central Park Challenge t-shirt over and over and he specifically asked me if we could do it again this year," said Linda, the boys' mom.

Their family, joined this year by baby Francesca, will be walking with Jack's Team. Jack is one of Marco's former classmates at Roosevelt. The family is happy to be giving back to the school. "We want to support the services at YAI, because it's a wonderful place for our children to grow in a safe environment," Linda says. "My son can't talk, so you want to know that he's safe in a nurturing and stimulating environment."

They also see the Central Park Challenge as a way to expose kids to people of different abilities in a fun and festive atmosphere. "Friends who have gone have had a really great time and that's a really good reason to come to the Central Park Challenge, especially if you have small children. It's a great community event, a fun thing for the kids and the music is great," Linda says. "It's an educational opportunity for kids, but on the other hand, they just have plain fun."

Linda says that Roberto most looks forward to pushing his brother's chair in the 3K Walk. "Marco loves going fast," says Roberto. "I gather up all my strength and push him really fast and it makes him laugh.

"We have a lot of fun together. I love Marco, he deals with all of this. I'm lucky to have him."

Support the Cohens' fundraising efforts today!


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Bay Ridge Community Rallies Around Kids With Disabilities

You’re never too young to start fundraising!

Students at the YAI Network's New York League for Early Learning William O’Connor (WOC) Preschool boarded the Central Park Challenge fundraising train on April 28, 2010 and, quite literally, walked the WOC. The kids participated in the school’s annual WOC-A-THON, marching from William O’Connor School through Cannon Ball Park and continuing on along Fort Hamilton to cross the finish line at J. Carty Park.

In addition to receiving a big medal at the end of the WOC, the local community rallied around the children; Looney Louie, fan-favorite clown, entertained the kids with silly antics while local firemen led the eager boys and girls on an exploration of the fire truck.

While the WOC-A-THON successfully raised money for the Central Park Challenge, it also served as a fun-filled day for students, teachers and parents, alike. "This event is so wonderful in the way that it demonstrates teamwork to all of the kids," said Carolyn Ciregna, whose 4-year-old daughter Arianna is graduating from WOC preschool this June. "They all walk together and even cross the finish line together. The kids just have such a great time being outside, playing in the park, and taking photographs with members of the local fire department. It’s such a treat for them; the whole bus ride over to the start line everyone is yelling ‘It’s the WOC-A-THON today!’"

Carolyn and many other parents provided parental support and walked alongside the young children. As she spoke about the WOC-A-THON, and William O’Connor School, Carolyn gushed proudly. "I can’t thank the school enough for everything they have done for Arianna, so when I have the chance to give back in a small way I’m ready!"

Support the kids at the William O'Connor School today! 

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