By Michelle A. Brown

Wildwood has always been committed to supporting students by maximizing opportunities for personal learning, growth, and development. In the summer of 2020, Wildwood received a grant from The Daniel and Susan Pfau Foundation to create a self-advocacy curriculum for students, ages 14-21 years old. Michelle Brown, Coordinator of Integration & Advocacy, and Melinda Burns, Director of Adult Education, have been collaborating with Wildwood School social workers and teachers in this venture to develop and implement the project.

By enhancing existing skills, the curriculum will assist students in understanding what advocacy is, how to use advocacy skills, and in empowering students to embrace the nuances of advocacy. Students can then apply these skills to help develop their Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) and their Life Plans in the future. 

Advocacy is not a concept or thought process for a particular time of life. Instead, it is on a continuum. We use these skills throughout every stage of our lives. Advocacy assists us to develop the life we want to live; to know and express what we like and what we don’t like. Through the self-advocacy curriculum, students will learn to explore and ask questions such as:

  • What do I want to do with my spare time?
  • Where do I want to work?
  • Where do I want to live?
  • With whom do I want to do these things?

By supporting students as they think about and advocate in regard to these life questions, they can live a life that they envision.

By Maggie Pascucci

As the world faces the uncertainties and challenges brought forth by a global pandemic this year, we yearn for the comfort and camaraderie often found in holiday celebrations. While each person, each family, each community defines what holiday traditions mean for them; the celebrations of 2020 and 2021 will likely look and feel different for most of us.

With this comes the question: how can we mark the occasion of holidays and maintain their warm feelings while practicing measures that keep us and our loved ones safe?

By Jill Rafferty-Weinish, Strategic Director of Vocational, Day, and Community Supports

When the COVID-19 shutdown last spring required many Wildwood services to go "virtual", Behaviorists Brittany DeBell, Ingrid Martinez, and Alex Keefer really felt the loss of professional camaraderie from their office interactions. They knew the people and families they supported would be having similar challenges, so they spoke to the Communications team about developing a podcast that would help provide – as Martinez puts it – "a little behaviorist in your pocket."

by Pam Baker, Melanie Ebbing, Amy Leisenfelder, Eric Sharer, Michelle Singh
Wildwood HEAL Committee Co-Chairs

Helping people to lead fulfilling lives is at the core of Wildwood’s mission. Through 50+ years of experience, we have found that people experience the greatest fulfillment when practicing healthy eating habits and increasing physical activity. In order to improve nutritional habits and increase physical activity of students, Wildwood started Project HEAL (Healthy Eating, Active Living) – an initiative focused on promoting an agency-wide culture of change for both staff and people supported by Wildwood. The goal of HEAL is to increase skills, knowledge, and positive behaviors. 



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