Summer Therapy Camp Offers Unique Opportunity to Children With Special Needs


Footprints In The Community just wrapped up their third annual Summer Therapy Camp, hosted at North Hills Christian School in Salisbury. The camp offers an inclusive setting for children with special needs as well as their typically developing peers, to receive summer therapies alongside a structured curriculum. This year, children had the opportunity to learn about caterpillars and airplanes!

wBTV2Campers learned about both caterpillars and gardens while reading “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” book. During our curriculum week, the children buddied up and visited each of four stations, including a physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and academic station. Activities at each area involved lessons about caterpillars, butterflies or foods that the caterpillar ate in the book. Children made and took home various art projects, including a coffee filter butterfly and a handmade canvass painting. The children also had the opportunity to visit Huffman’s peach farm, learning about how the farmers pick peaches from the trees, and were able to take home a bag full of delicious peaches!

During the second half of the camp, children learned about airplanes. We read the book, “Airplane Flight,” and the children enjoyed making toilet paper roll airplanes as well as moving their bodies around imitating an airplane while going through an obstacle course. We visited the Rowan County airport and were able to get inside of a real airplane! The kids also got to experience what it’s like inside of a real news helicopter. The WBTV news helicopter landed on the North Hills soccer field and allowed the children to explore the inside, manipulating the camera and pretending to interview their friends as if they were real-life reporters. We were even on the evening news!

WBTV1The summer camp has been hosted at North Hills for the past three years and field trips are made possible by a partnership with Partners In Learning which provides a bus and driver for each trip. The program is directed by Dr. Ashley Deaton with Footprints In The Community and One Step At A Time Therapy services. Each year, two groups of children ages 2-10 meet on Tuesday and Thursday mornings in the month of July. Curriculum topics vary by year; in past years we have learned about trains, animals, and bears. The camp is completely free to the families and offers so many wonderful opportunities that the children may not otherwise have. Many of these children do not receive therapies during the summer and benefit from the structure of the camp. The camp is beneficial to typically developing children as well; as many children do not have the opportunity to be in an inclusive environment alongside children with special needs and when buddied up their peer who may have a physical disability or a speech delay, they develop and increased appreciation and acceptance of individual differences.  They master skills by practicing and teaching others and many of these peer mentors end up aspiring to be teachers. Footprints In The Community holds various fundraisers throughout the year to raise money for the camp and they also rely on grants in addition to donations from local businesses and individuals for funding. If you would be interested in having your children attend the camp next year or if you would like to volunteer for next year’s camp, please visit

Katie Zink, Infant-Toddler Family Specialist

Katie Zink, Infant-Toddler Family Specialist


Katie Zink is a graduate of Catawba College and serves as a CBRS therapist for Partners In Learning. Prior to her role as a therapist, Katie served as a teacher beginning in 2009.  Working with children is her life’s passion.


Technology RULES!

Children using cell phones and tablets are increasing at a pace that parents can hardly keep up with.  As the director of a childcare center that cares for school-age children; I am seeing more and more of them being given technology to use, as they like.  Recently, I looked on one of the children’s ipads to see violent games.   Several of the children have Facebook pages and lied about their birthday so they could set it up.   One parent actually set it up for the child.  When I talked with her she stated that she monitored it.  I asked her how she could monitor what he saw on others pages and the chat.  Also, many of the games are played on line with others.  These games are breeding grounds for predators.

404768_4786660824033_2040929263_nMy grandson is getting ready to start middle school in the fall and I have decided to give him my old iPhone.  He will not have a cellular plan, but can use all of the features with Wi-Fi.  Protecting him from violence, predators, and his innocence is a big deal to me as it should be to any parent.  To this end, I decided I needed to put in the research to set limits and rules.

He will not be able to download applications, because I have password protected it.  Therefore, his parents can monitor the degree of violence.  There will be no Netflix for him to choose inappropriate shows.  His phone will not be able to download Facebook.  If he abuses his camera, I can block it and many other things.  You can also learn how to do all this and more at Apple Support.

IMG_5552I have seen the below rules often on Facebook and shared by many parents.  I wonder how many have actually ever used them.  I decided to review them and tweak them to meet the individual needs of my grandson.  I plan to type them up, laminate them, have a family meeting with him and his parents, and hang them on his refrigerator after he signs them.   This is little time to put in for a big payoff! The rules are as follows:

  1. I will always know the password.   While you live under my roof, there will be no privacy when it comes to the use of this phone.
    NEVER use Facetime without asking me first and NEVER ignore a call from me.
  2. Hand the phone to one of your parents promptly at ______ every school night & every weekend night at ______p.m. It will be shut off for the night and turned on again at 7:30 am.
  3. If you would not make a call or text to someone’s land line, wherein their parents may answer first, then do not call or text.   Listen to those instincts and respect other families like we would like to be respected.
    It does not go to school with you. Have a conversation with the people you text in person. It’s a life skill. *Half days, field trips and after school activities will require special consideration.
  4. If it falls into the toilet, smashes on the ground, or vanishes into thin air, you are responsible for the replacement costs or repairs. Mow a lawn, babysit, and stash some birthday money. It will happen, you should be prepared.
  5. Do not use this technology to lie, fool, or deceive another human being. Do not involve yourself in conversations that are hurtful to others. Be a good friend first or stay the heck out of the crossfire.
  6. Do not text, email, or say anything through this device you would not say in person.
  7. Do not text, email, or say anything to someone that you would not say out loud with their parents in the room. Censor yourself.
  8. No porn. Search the web for information you would openly share with me. If you have a question about anything, ask a person; preferably your parent.
  9. Turn it off, silence it, put it away in public. Especially in a restaurant, at the movies, or while speaking with another human being. You are not a rude person; do not allow the iPhone to change that.
  10. Do not send or receive pictures of your private parts or anyone else’s private parts. Don’t laugh. Someday you will be tempted to do this despite your high intelligence. It is risky and could ruin your teenage/college/adult life. It is always a bad idea. Cyberspace is vast and more powerful than you. And it is hard to make anything of this magnitude disappear — including a bad reputation.
  11. Don’t take a zillion pictures and videos. There is no need to document everything. Live your experiences. They will be stored in your memory for eternity.
  12. Leave your phone home sometimes and feel safe and secure in that decision. It is not alive or an extension of you. Learn to live without it. Be bigger and more powerful than FOMO — fear of missing out.
  13. Download music that is new or classic or different than the millions of your peers that listen to the same exact stuff. Your generation has access to music like never before in history. Take advantage of that gift. Use this gift to find Christian music.  Remember what goes in will come out in your behavior.
  14. Keep your eyes up. See the world happening around you. Stare out a window. Listen to the birds. Take a walk. Talk to a stranger. Wonder without goggling.
  15. You will mess up. Your parents will take away your phone. They will sit down and talk about it. You will start over again. You and us, we are always learning. I am on your team. We are in this together.  Click here for more information.
Norma Honeycutt, Executive Director

Norma Honeycutt, Executive Director

Norma Honeycutt is the Executive Director of Partners In Learning Child Development & Family Resource Center. Norma is one of the states strongest advocates for children with special needs serving on boards and commissions including the North Carolina Child Care Commission, Rowan County NCPreK Advisory Committee, and Rowan County Local Interagency Coordinating Council. Norma is also a CBRS therapist and facilitates support groups, activities, and other programs for families of children with special needs.

Starting the School Year For Your Child With Special Needs

When a child with special needs begins a new school year with a new teacher there’s always a transition period. Communication between parents and teachers is vital. Communication can happen via many mediums, a notebook, e-mails or phone calls can work depending in the schedule and needs of those involved.

So what’s important to communicate? At the beginning of each year I write a letter to the teacher outlining important things to know about my child. This is coupled with a meeting with the teacher, however, there’s usually enough information that writing it down is helpful.


Start with your child’s interests. What motivates him or her? What does he or she like? This can help especially when the child has little or no verbal ability because it can be hard for them to articulate this information.

Self-Help Needs

Does your child need assistance eating, using the bathroom, navigating certain parts of the classroom, or getting items of clothing on and off? It’s helpful for teachers to know this up front so the child doesn’t get frustrated. Also, in some area there might be emerging skills, so let the teacher know if it is okay to let  your child first try on their own and only offer support when needed.


Are there therapists coming to see your child? In some schools the therapists communicate with the teachers, however, if you have private therapists it may be helpful to provide their schedule and contact information.

Safety Concerns

If there are any safety concerns in relation to your child — wandering, running, choking hazards — it’s important to let the teacher know up front.


Agreeing on how and when to communicate with each other will help with future confusion and/or frustration. Offer ideas and options and let the teacher offer what will work best for his or her schedule.

Jill WagonerJill Wagoner is the mother of of two. Her oldest child has Down syndrome. She serves as an advocate, writer, speaker, fundraiser, and grant writer for organizations that support children with special needs. A former journalist and current marketer and public relations specialist, Jill has been published in many publications and blogs, including The Salisbury PostModern ParentSalisbury Life Magazine, and Rowan Magazine.

How to Make a Bully From Scratch

Have you ever thought about the possibility that you may unintentionally be making a bully?  We can all agree that children learn from our example and lately I have observed many parents modeling bullying.  Let’s take a look at some of the ways I have seen parents bullying.

In order to get a child to comply with the rules or listen, parent:

  • Get in their child’s face and threaten them.
  • Stand over the child and scream at them.
  • Telling a child “Do it again, come on I dare you”.

Many bullying parents understand that there is a line when it comes to being physical and discipline can be a tough subject to tackle, but in general it is much easier to identify bullying behaviors that are physical as opposed to those that are emotional or mental.  Emotional and mental bullying works by using methods of demeaning speech and other techniques that are meant to help the parent bully feel superior.

When bullying parents use this style of parenting, they try and motivate their children through demeaning them and fear. This can be especially damaging, since it lowers a child’s self worth and can leave mental scars that last a lifetime.   These scars can lead to depression, as well as set the child up to have difficulty sustaining good relationships.  Indeed, if a child learns how to treat people from the example of a bullying parent, he or she is likely to grow to be a bully as well, and may have a hard time developing healthy relationships.

When tempted to bully your child, think of the “Good neighbor policy.”  Would you treat a neighbor child like you are currently treating your child?  If the answer is no, then STOP!  Stop bullying and start teaching!  The love and logic approach to parenting can help with strategies to preserve the relationship and allow children to learn from and take responsibility for their mistakes.

Norma Honeycutt, Executive Director

Norma Honeycutt, Executive Director

Norma Honeycutt is the Executive Director of Partners In Learning Child Development & Family Resource Center. Norma is one of the states strongest advocates for children with special needs serving on boards and commissions including the North Carolina Child Care Commission, Rowan County NCPreK Advisory Committee, and Rowan County Local Interagency Coordinating Council. Norma is also a CBRS therapist and facilitates support groups, activities, and other programs for families of children with special needs.

Want a better behaved child? It’s all about the relationship.

A group of parents from Partners In Learning has just completed a six-week workshop where we  discussed how to go about promoting behaviors we love to see in our children and how to diminish behaviors we’d like to see go away.  We had a great time working our way through the course.  It’s always good to learn that other parents struggle with challenging behavior, and that other people’s children are also not perfect.  We’re celebrating the completion of the course this week by meeting up at Ryan’s to enjoy the shared comradery that has developed during these past six weeks.

The workshop was developed by CSEFEL, (Center for the Social Emotional Foundation for Early Learning) who created this Positive Solutions for Families series, and here is an outline of what we learned.

Making a connection

Every child needs that one special person who is just crazy about them.  Who was that person for you?  How did that person make you feel?  What impact did that person have on who you are today?  What are the benefits and barriers to spending quality time with your child each day?  Children build self-esteem and are introduced to new social skills when parents spend some (even small) portion of their day directing their complete, undivided attention to their child.  But230098_10150558896370504_696465503_18282160_1354090_n where do we find the time in our busy complicated day and how do you devote individual time to a one child when there are siblings?   These are questions we discussed at length.   How do you support positive behavior?  First, get the child’s attention and be very specific about the behavior you are acknowledging.  Don’t be too wordy with your praise and do it with enthusiasm! You can multiple the effect of the positive acknowledgement by including a kiss or a hug and/or by presenting the acknowledgement in front of others.

Making It Happen

We started this session by talking about the benefits of engaging in play with your child.  For example, parents are able to teach their child new skills such as problem-solving and how to interact with others, and this one-on-one play time with your child will also serve to build more positive relationships.  I don’t know about you, but I tend to be much more willing to be positive around person whom I have established a consistent and ongoing positive relationship.  When playing with your child, talk about what your child is doing, follow your child’s lead, work to extend the play in order to encourage creativity and imagination, be aware if your child might be losing interest and avoid power struggles.

Why Do Children Do What They Do?

lightbulb momentParenting is a very “boots on the ground” proposition, I agree, but if you are able to step back and look at your child’s behavior from an objective and scientific perspective, you will discover that these little people are very interesting indeed, and that’s what we did during our third meeting.  We discovered that sometimes children misbehave because they simply haven’t learned the correct way to act in a particular situation.  Just like anything else, social skills have to be taught, and what one person can learn quickly, another person may need much more practice to acquire the skill.  For example, it took me forever to grasp algebra, but I knew how to act appropriately in a restaurant long before my older brother, David, had a clue.

Teach Me What to Do

“You get more of what you pay attention to.”  Though this isn’t a very well-constructed sentence, it is research-based, time-tested motto we use here at Partners In Learning and it is absolutely true!  So much of our children’s behavior is motivated toward obtaining our attention.  So, if we want to see more positive behavior, be consistent about acknowledging when you see it happening.  In this session, we also talked about emotional literacy.  What’s that, you ask?  Emotional literacy has to do with being able to recognized and label your own emotions as well as the emotions of others.  Self-regulation is a vitally important skill for social and academic success, and learning how to recognize ones emotions is a step toward being able to self-regulate. ]

Facing the Challenge:  Part 1

The homework for session four was to establish some household rules around behavior.  Our mission was to provide our children with the visual support of a chart with a few, simply and very specific house rules.  We didn’t include any rules such as, “be nice” because “be nice” is a very vague concept and though it might mean something to you, it very likely might mean something completely different to your four-year-old.  Then we got into a discussion about logical consequences.  If a child throws blocks, for example, perhaps it’s time to but the blocks away for a while.  If a child is throwing his food at the table, it might mean that the child is done with his or her dinner and the child needs to clean up the mess he or she made.  We practiced this concept with role-playing.

Facing the Challenge:  Part 2

During the final session, we studied some examples of challenging behavior and tried to figure out if the behaviors we observed were the result of attention seeking or because of an attempt to avoid or escape a situation.  Almost all challenging behavior is motivated by one of these two reasons.  Then we talked about what happened just before the challenging behavior occurred, what was the message the challenging behavior was trying to communicate and what happened after the challenging behavior occurred, or in other words, what was the consequence.  Very often, you see, the consequence feeds the challenging behavior.

Parents who attended this workshop series have been trying out what they have learned.  We plan to share our findings when we meet this week.

Katherine Generaux,Community Inclusion Specialist, Partners In Learning

Katherine Generaux,Community Inclusion Specialist, Partners In Learning

Katherine Generaux serves as the center’s Community Inclusion Specialist. In that position she has been effective in modeling appropriate interactions with young children with special needs. Her ongoing presence in the classrooms modeling best practices for infants and toddler is resulting in additional experience while making a positive difference in early childhood programming. She is very aware of what is developmentally appropriate and engaging with the children. Her birth through kindergarten degree and experience are evident in her service to children and families.