ONEONTA – With an open layout, single bedrooms, climate control and a therapy bathtub, Springbrook is making sure that their students with the highest medical needs receive the highest quality of care.
“It is a larger, more accommodating space with very thought-out design features,” said Seth Haight, COO. “The completion of this home is an important part of a broad action plan made up of many exciting projects.”
MILFORD CENTER – Springbrook announced today it has received $575,193 from the state Office for People With Developmental Disabilities to move three of its initiatives forward.
“These three important initiatives will touch the lives of hundreds of local individuals and families, increasing their access to and choices for quality services,” said Springbrook CEO Patricia Kennedy.
Springbrook Keynoter: ‘Weaknesses Can Be Made Positives’
By LIBBY CUDMORE•HOMETOWN ONEONTA
Nothing, not the lack of coordinates on Mapquest or a GPS mishap was going to delay Jesse Saperstein from speaking at Springbrook. “A comedy of things happened,” he said. “But it was important for me to get here and speak, especially to my new friend Michael.”
That new friend was a visibly overjoyed Michael Travisano, who was in the audience with his father, Hartwick professor Thomas and mother, Elsa.
“For a lot of kids, there’s no role models they can directly connect to,” said Rick Turner, a Springbrook teacher who grew up with Saperstein. “But to look up and see someone on the autism spectrum wearing nice clothes and speaking to a roomful of people, it’s good for their self-esteem.”
Saperstein, an autism activist and author of “Atypical: Life With Aspbergers in 20 1/3 Chapters,” was the featured speaker Saturday, Sept. 21, to cap off Springbrook’s Family Weekend.
“We were in the same class from middle school up through graduation,” said Turner. “He has always been a generous, nice guy.”
They reconnected when Turner was working at the Anderson Center for Autism in Hyde Park, and when the Golisano School opened at Springbrook, Turner knew his friend would be a dynamic speaker.
“We have a lot of workshops for parents about dealing with the difficulties of transitioning from the school to adulthood,” said Kira DeLanoy, Springbrook spokesperson. “And that’s the focus of his latest book.”
“Getting a Life With Aspberger’s: Lessons Learned on the Bumpy Road to Adulthood,” was published in August. “This one has fewer fart jokes than the last one,” he joked. “My editor told me to have fun, and I might have taken her advice a little too far.”
Saperstein wrote the books as part of what he calls “our collective quest to understand autism.”
“Oftentimes, it’s more of a character trait than a disability,” he said. “The true disablers are the unnecessary failures created by a society that doesn’t understand.”
One of his current undertakings is to mentor and raise awareness about bullying. “We must work hard to fight bullying, but we must also equip our young adults to deal with the dark arts of humanity,” he said. “Poison ivy isn’t everywhere, but there’s enough of it to make life miserable.”
And he would know about poison ivy – in 2005, he hiked all 2,174 miles of the Appalachian Trail to raise money for the Joey DiPaolo AIDS Foundation. “I was able to complete that journey because of qualities that were vilified,” he said. In 2012, he went skydiving in a “Free Fall to End Bullying,” and speaks at schools across the state about his experiences.
“Michael did really well at Center Street School, but when he got to middle school, there were some problems,” said Travisano. “But the kids from Center Street stepped up and they wouldn’t let anyone bully him.”
Michael graduated from Hartwick College this spring with a major in Art History.
“What we see as our own weaknesses can be made into positives,” said DeLanoy. “That’s something everyone can take away in their own lives.”