FECTS Director Message
- Written by Colleen Gallant
Welcome to spring. 2019 promises to be an amazing year for Florida Elks Children’s Therapy Services.
We recently said goodbye to one of our longtime therapists, Teri Stocking, who has been an occupational therapist in south Florida for many years. She had an opportunity to retire and spend more time with her son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren after their move to Nashville, Tenn. Teri was with FECTS for 18 years and was a wonderful therapist who also served as a regional coordinator for the south region. She will be missed, but we wish her well in her new life of retirement.
On March 4, we welcomed Donna Revera who is taking over Teri Stocking’s territory in the West Palm Beach, Fla., area. She is an extremely experienced therapist and will do well. I know you will make her feel welcome.
April was Autism Awareness month. Our therapists have found that over the years, they are treating more and more children on the autism spectrum. They work with these children in the hope that they may someday be able to function as independently as possible within their abilities. Two of our long-term therapists, Paula Tarver and Jeanne Martin, were awarded the Humanitarian of the Year award at the Harry-Anna Trust Unmasking Autism Gala of Hope in St. Petersburg, Fla., April 13 for their work in writing the book “Advance My Baby.”
Tarver and Martin are two of the first therapists hired by PSP Ben Brown and they each consider it an honor to treat the children of Florida in the name of the Florida Elks for the past 20 years. Once they joined FECTS, they both took an interest in the continuous rise in the number of children with developmental delays. This caused them concern and precipitated the co-writing of a developmental handbook which gives caregivers a comprehensive resource that allows early detection of developmental delays in infants and babies from birth to three years. After several years of compiling information for the handbook, “Advance My Baby” was completed. The manual was designed to guide parents in promoting all areas of development. It provides all the best activities and exercises for caregivers to create the ultimate environment to build the foundations for academic achievement, physical prowess, and emotional and social success.
Tarver and Martin are both strong advocates of involving the parents or caregivers in their child’s therapy services. This enables them to be part of the solution and to partner with FECTS to ensure the best possible outcomes for their child. Their goal has been to educate parents on the importance of tracking early development, how to assist their child with their therapy needs via sensory integration activities and techniques, and to empower them with the knowledge to advance their child to their full potential.
I am so proud to have the honor to work with both these therapists as well as our other 26 very fine therapists.
And now….as you may recall, our CHAMP of the Year, Jackson Barth, is nearing the end of his year as our CHAMP. Jackson and his family have been amazing promoting our program and getting out to meet our members whenever we asked. It has indeed been a pleasure spending time with the entire Barth family – Dad, Mick; Mom, Katie; and brothers Liam and Everett. Our therapists have grown so fond of Jackson that we have made a place for him as our Ambassador for FECTS, and you will see him again at the state convention.
The 2019-2020 FECTS CHAMP of the Year is five-year-old JJ D’Angelo. According to his physical therapist, Samantha Yox, he loves spending time with his parents and little sister and going on walks, going to the park, and riding the Elks adaptive bike. “He has many medical diagnoses which affect his balance, coordination, motor skill development and communication. He works very hard and loves the praise and excitement when he accomplishes something new. He is always smiling, even when he is protesting his PT activities! JJ is a fighter and true champ!” says Yox.
JJ’s mother, Katis, describes him this way: “JJ is a true Champion who has been fighting big battles since day one. His very first day he had to be resuscitated immediately after birth. He has been working extremely hard for every milestone he has gained on his own timeframe. He spends every day of the week doing an eight-hour neurodevelopment program. Through the Elks program with Ms. Sam, JJ most recently learned how to ride an adaptive bike at five years old. He is diagnosed with an ultra-rare genetic disorder called CHAMP1. There are only 51 more people diagnosed with CHAMP1 worldwide. It is associated with epilepsy, autism, severe speech delay, and overall global development delay. To learn more about CHAMP1 visit champ1foundation.org. JJ is a true CHAMP1ON.”
On behalf of all of us at Florida Elks Children’s Therapy Services, thank you for all you do to help Florida Elks Children’s Therapy Services. We continue to treat in excess of 500 children per week and we could never do it without each of you. Please keep up the great work!
Colleen Gallant, Director
Florida Elks Children's Therapy Services