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October 10, 2015 Clubs and Organizations

Suncoast 'Miracle' for Special Needs Children

Sarasota, FL -- What started out as a grassroots campaign to help local children with autism has paved the way for a special event to help even more Sarasota County children. The Education Foundation of Sarasota County in collaboration with the Florida Occupational Therapy Association (FOTA) is hosting ‘Miracle at Suncoast’ to raise funds to provide a valuable and much needed sensory aid for students with special needs in Sarasota County Schools.

In April 2015, during Autism Awareness Month, a Pay it Forward GoFundMe campaign was created by Lori Jones to honor the memory of Jenny Quillin, a young mother who recently passed away leaving behind a daughter with autism. The GoFundMe efforts involved over 100 members of the community and directly benefited 21 Sarasota County students providing a sensory aid that improved educational outcomes. Some of the local business supporters of the GoFundMe campaign included; Wyland Galleries, iHeartRadio, Hob Nob Drive-In, SunniBunni, Tube Dude, Compound Boardshop, TreeUmph! and Wild Ginger Apothecary.

Teachers and occupational therapists working together is a key component to improved outcomes for students with special needs. Dr. Marion. Boss, C.E.D., Ph.D., Executive Director of the School for Autistically Impaired Learners (S.A.I.L.) and teacher of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder has worked extensively with occupational therapists in the school setting.

Dr. Boss and her teachers have found great success through their use of the Miracle Belt as an integral part of the highly successful teaching process. Dr. Boss described her results, “When wearing the Miracle Belt the child immediately transitions him/herself into the listening-learning mode and 99% of children with autism, served by SAIL, demonstrate the ability to sit with ‘quiet bodies’—listen, receive and follow directives from a teacher in a typical classroom setting. SAIL children have demonstrated abilities similar to children without the diagnosis. I am convinced the Miracle Belt and the psychosocial groups SAIL implements where skills supporting the attitude of ‘you can manage your autism’ both contribute to the successes of SAIL children!”

The SAIL implemented program, using the Miracle Belt, has led to inclusion of children with autism in regular classes. This is a tremendous achievement for children diagnosed on the spectrum of autistic disorders. As Dr Boss explains, “My children sit in a typical classroom -- listen as though typical, learn as though typical, and moving through the curriculum as though typical. It's a miracle!”

The Education Foundation of Sarasota County and the Florida Occupational Therapist Association (FOTA) are striving to provide all 6,200 special needs children in the school system with the Miracle Belt. Elena Vizvary, President, Florida Occupational Therapy Association and Occupational and Physical Therapy Department Chair for Sarasota County Schools is appreciative of the opportunity saying “The Florida Occupational Therapy Association values and encourages collaboration among the community, industry and occupational therapy practitioners. We appreciate the community’s support to explore the possibilities that "Miracle Belts" hold as a promising tool for enabling student success in school.”

The need to raise funds for assisting the children has led to this unique partnership and the creation of ‘Miracle at Suncoast.’ If the goal is reached, the Sarasota County School District will have the distinction of becoming the first in the nation to provide such support to all special needs students.

General Sales Manager of Suncoast Motorsports Gordon Hunter says; “We are proud to host this important event as we fully realize the value of improving the education outcomes for all students, including those with special needs.” Other businesses providing support include Aaron’s Rental, Barker Boatworks, Caliber Collision, Doctors Express, and State Farm (Cari Fallen Insurance).

The event, ‘Miracle at Suncoast’, will be held at Suncoast Porsche, Audi, & VW located at 5005 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota FL on November 19, 2015, 6:00 to 8:00 pm.

For more information about Miracle at Suncoast please visit www.miracleatsuncoast.com or call the Education Foundation at 941-927-0965.

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