My name is Teresa, and I am currently a student enrolled in SUNY Empire’s Center for Distance Learning. For my present course, Communication through New Media, my classmates and I have been given the chance to create a project that motivates social networking and brings about change and/or awareness.

I have chosen to create a project that is geared towards raising awareness and support for Developmental Disabilities Institute’s (DDI’s) Children’s Residential Program, which provides specialized, individualized education and care for children ages 5 to 21 who have needs that fall outside the realm of typical special education services. This program runs on a 24-hour, 7-day per week basis in order to ensure optimal care.

DDI becomes not only the children’s learning environment but also their home environment. These children work harder than anyone should ever have to in order to be heard and be part of a world that is not always ready to listen. The families and staff of the CRP work tirelessly as well as they help the children foster independence, manage behavior, and learn new skills.

As an employee of DDI for 18 years, I believe wholeheartedly in this agency’s mission. As a sister to a man with an autism spectrum disorder, I am humbled and inspired by the work that is done here and the tremendous gains and accomplishments made by the children and adults served across several divisions.

As learning opportunities develop and progress, it can be difficult for non-profit agencies to keep up with the demand for current, non-traditional learning outlets. One such endeavor is the creation of gardens to allow the children to experience the wonder and science of cultivation as tiny seeds grow to thriving, delicious foods.

Due to funding and space constraints, it has been difficult to provide youngsters living at the CRP with this type of outdoor learning experience. It is my goal to raise awareness surrounding autism spectrum disorders as well as raise funds to purchase two Tower Gardens for the children in order to help them improve upon and gain new skills. This will afford them the chance to experience learning in yet another way as they build on their knowledge of teamwork, environmental awareness, science, seasons/cycles, self-awareness, and responsibility.



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