Lakes Region Community Services celebrates

By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — Speaking at the annual celebration of Lakes Region Community Services at the Beane Conference Center yesterday, Carrie Cariello, the mother of five children one of whom is autistic, could not have struck a more telling note when she remarked "we ask everybody in the family to do whatever they're capable of."

Each year the Lakes Region Community Services honors the dedication of its employees as well as the generosity of its partners and benefactors whose benevolence enables the agency to support and serve those living with developmental disabilities as well as the elderly and chronically ill. Each year the agency serves some 1,200 individuals while its Family Resource Center reaches another 500 families and 1,000 children.

This year C. Anthony MacArthur was recognized for 35 years of service, Heidi Gilmore and Edith McCormack for 25 years of service, Lewis and Denise Marden for 20 years of service, Sarah Brown, Rosemary Earle, Charles Hughes, James King, Elizabeth Manning and executive director Christine Santeniello for 15 years of service, and Douglas Braddock, Laura Brouillard, Ruth Earl, Heidi Nichols, Joyce Partridge and Dawn Hanson Winters for 10 years of service.

AFL Global of Belmont, Dr. Raymond Thomas Finn, DMD of Laconia, the "We Care" program of Temple B'nai Israel of Laconia and Wood & Clay, Inc. of Gilford were honored as outstanding community partners.

Cariello, an author and blogger whose insights and reflections on autism have earned her a national and international following, spoke with wisdom, love and humor of her son Jack, offering glimpses into the world as seen through the prism of autism. Jack, a seventh grader, she said #would be devastated not to follow the same journey as his siblings," then noted "he's the bossiest person you've ever met so he always does everything with the others, otherwise he would take over our household."

Cariello's message of expectations tempered by reality and inclusiveness without reservations echoed the mission of Lakes Region Community Services — "Dedicated to Serving the Community by Promoting Independence, Dignity and Opportunity."

04-15 LRCS Carrie Cariello

 Carrie Cariello, author, blogger and mother of five, delivered the keynote address when Lakes Region Community Services held its annual celebration at the Beane Conference Center. With her is R. Stewart Wallace, president of the board of directors of Lakes Region Community Services. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Michael Kitch)

Downtown to stay open late tonight

 The city center will be celebrating the new and relocated businesses with a "Downtown Open House" this evening, from 5 to 8 p.m. Downtown businesses that recently moved into new locations include MC Cycle & Sports, The Studio, Wild Women Studio and RE/MAX Bayside. New businesses include The Downtown Gym and Bubba's Blues. Many other downtown businesses are keeping their doors open through the evening hours. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Adam Drapcho)

 

The city center will be celebrating the new and relocated businesses with a "Downtown Open House" this evening, from 5 to 8 p.m. Downtown businesses that recently moved into new locations include MC Cycle & Sports, The Studio, Wild Women Studio and RE/MAX Bayside. New businesses include The Downtown Gym and Bubba's Blues. Many other downtown businesses are keeping their doors open through the evening hours. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Adam Drapcho)

Best Buddies - Belmont High School program fosters positive relationships between students with different abilities

BY GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN

BELMONT — Although recruiting has already begun, next year high school students will join the newest chapter of Best Buddies – a nationwide program that pairs a high school student with one who is intellectually challenged.

School psychiatrist Dr. Ryan Long, who sits on the state advisory board, said so far there has been a great deal of interest shown by high school students and about 20 have signed up for the program.

"We pair up students with intellectual disabilities with their more typical student friends," said Long. "It helps foster relationships."

Long said that the partnership helps students with disabilities feel more involved with their school and gives them more self confidence as they progress through their high school years.

He said the best buddies go to an activity like bowling, seeing a show or a movie, or taking in a sports event once a month.

Long said that challenged students often do well in school until about the sixth grade. After that, they start to fall behind and begin feeling left out of a typical school day.

"They're hanging on by a thread to keep their friends," he said, adding the schools really should be providing more opportunities for them.

"Once you connect these people, they develop these amazing friendships. It's about inclusion," he said, saying even inviting them to the lunch table or a soccer game can make a difference in their lives.

Right now, Belmont High School is getting together a team to walk in the Best Buddies Friendship Walk in Concord on May 14. He said so far, the members of both the boys and girls lacrosse teams have signed up to attend the event. He's hoping if the team can get big enough, they can hire a bus to represent the Shaker Regional School District in the walk.

Best Buddies has had a chapter in New Hampshire for two years. According to the New Hampshire website, "Best Buddies International is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD)."

For more information or to make a donation, go to their website at www.bestbuddies.org. To get involved with the Belmont chapter, call Long or Alex Takantjas at the Belmont High School.

 

Special Education teacher Alex Takantjas helps Carter Dutton and Jake Deware sign up for the “Best Buddies” program at Belmont High School Thursday morning.  (Karen Bobotas/for the Laconia Daily Sun)

 

Special Education teacher Alex Takantjas helps Carter Dutton and Jake Deware sign up for the “Best Buddies” program at Belmont High School during a unified basketball game.  (Karen Bobotas/for the Laconia Daily Sun)