Friday, November 1, 2013

Halloween 2013

Birchtree's students had a great Halloween yesterday! Classrooms teamed up to decorate the school and bake treats for the event.  In the afternoon they donned costumes for a Practice Trick or Treat session throughout the school.  They also enjoyed watching a movie and having a dance in the gym.

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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Student Garden Project


Student Garden Project, a set on Flickr.
Birchtree’s students planted, maintained, and harvested an herb and vegetable garden at the Portsmouth Public Library this summer. The project allowed students to develop their vocational and independent-living skills, engage in a conservation project, and learn to give back to their community.

Thank you to the Portsmouth Public Library for hosting the garden and to the Portsmouth Garden Club for their generous grant in support of the project!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Birchtree’s Students “SAIL”ing Strong this Winter

When young adults with autism graduate from Birchtree’s center-based program, they need to be ready for life beyond Birchtree. That’s why our center-based students participate in our Students Achieving Independence for Life (SAIL) program from ages 14 through 21.

Every SAIL student has an individualized plan—developed in close partnership with students’ families and local agencies—to promote his or her independence for life.

Students receive intensive, hands-on instruction in four key areas:

  • Vocational Skills
  • Community Participation
  • Lifelong Learning
  • Independent Living

Vocational Skills

Charlie works alongside instructor Steva assembling a mailing for Exeter Adult Education. 
SAIL students offer light-assembly and mail-stuffing services for local businesses and nonprofits. This is just one of the “micro businesses” our students operate as part of their vocational training. For more information about the SAIL program’s business services, click here.

Dakota sells a snack to Aidan at Birchtree’s school store.
Birchtree’s older students stock and operate The Nook, our school store, as part of their vocational training. Students and staff of all ages shop at the store. Customers purchase snacks and drinks—as well as soups, salads, and other items created by the SAIL students. SAIL students also have jobs stocking and maintaining our vending machines, operating our school’s recycling program, and doing other important tasks throughout our school building.

Kyle develops his vocational skills volunteering at the YMCA of the Seacoast. 
Our clinical instructors work one-on-one with SAIL students to help them develop their vocational skills at our center and in the community. We strive to meet the vocational abilities and interests of every student.

Lifelong Learning

Steven uses his math skills to make an inventory of office supplies at The Birchtree Center. 
The SAIL program’s practical, experience-based instruction allows students to apply their academic skills in a variety of settings and prepares them to continue their education as adults.

Community Participation

Alex works out at the Seacoast Sports Clubs-Downtown.
SAIL students develop the healthy habit of regular exercise by exercising in our school gym and at local fitness centers and pools. We also help students explore their leisure interests and establish community connections that will allow them to enjoy those leisure activities in adulthood.

Erich sorts donations to a Gluten-Free Food Drive operated by SAIL students.  
SAIL students learn to “give back” to our community through community-service projects. Last winter, students set up a food donation bin at the Portsmouth Hannaford, collected and sorted the items, and delivered the donations to the Seacoast Family Food Pantry.

Lauren works alongside instructor Emily planting at garden at the Portsmouth Public Library.  
During the summer, our students plant and maintain a garden at the Portsmouth Public Library. Students use produce from the garden for cooking lessons back at Birchtree.

Independent Living

Sam assembles a salad for his morning snack.  
Students with autism need intensive instruction and consistent practice to maintain the “life skills” essential to adult success, such as healthy eating, food preparation, cleaning, shopping, laundry, and personal hygiene. SAIL students use a fully-equipped kitchen and laundry area in our Life Skills Area to learn independent-living skills.

Connor selects a healthy lunch at a local grocery store while instructor Adam looks on. 
SAIL students travel throughout our neighborhood to develop essential “life skills” such as grocery shopping. This real-world instruction helps students prepare to maximize their independence and productivity as adults.

Want to help Birchtree’s students with autism to “SAIL”? You can underwrite practical, hands-on instruction in our community for all of Birchtree’s students by donating to our Gift Cards for Independence campaign. You can make a cash donation or donate a gift card for student-shopping lessons.

Gift cards can be mailed to:
The Birchtree Center
Attn: Gift Cards for Independence
2064 Woodbury Avenue, Suite 204
Newington, NH 03801

For more information about the SAIL program, click here. To read a recent news article about the program, click here.

Monday, June 4, 2012

4,782 Total Miles Logged!

This past April, students at The Birchtree Center ran and walked a total of 411 miles—and those miles made a big difference!   During the nonprofit’s first-ever Fitness Challenge for Autism Awareness Month, students logged as many miles as they could on treadmills and using pedometers at school, in their neighborhoods, and at the Seacoast Sports Clubs.   Students collected pledges per mile and helped raise over $21,000 for Birchtree’s Family Support Fund.

Total mileage for all challenge participants
Families, staff, board members, and friends of Birchtree also joined in the challenge.  Eighty-four participants logged a total of 4,782 miles—that's the distance from here to northern Alaska!  Participants collected over 450 pledges from individuals in 23 states.  All pledges went to the nonprofit’s Family Support Fund, which helps underwrite admission-free autism workshops and essential educational expenses for families in need who are living with autism.

On May 17, participants and their families gathered at Birchtree to walk a final ceremonial lap through the school.  Every student received a participation medal and certificate, and some individuals and teams received prizes for the most miles logged and the most pledges raised.

Bruce Dicker, vice president of Birchtree’s Board of Directors, jogged 103 miles during the challenge and raised $1,841 in pledges. He credits Birchtree’s students and staff with inspiring his efforts.  “Every day at Birchtree, we see students with autism who accomplish amazing things in spite of their challenges, and staff members who seem to have unlimited patience, care, and professionalism,” said Dicker.  “You can’t help but be inspired by their hard work!”

WMUR 9 New Hampshire television did a short story about our students' work in the Fitness Challenge. You can view the story by clicking here.

Thank you to our generous event sponsors:

Thanks also to our prize donors and in-kind contributors:

Anneke Jans
Anthem Blue Cross & Blue Shield, NH
Atkinson Graphics
The Birchtree Center Board of Directors
Children's Museum of New Hampshire
The Green Monkey
Harvard Pilgrim Health Care
Library Restaurant
New England Medical Insurance Agency
Robert's Maine Grill
Seacoast Science Center
Seacoast Sports Clubs
Wendy DeLucci, Salon Sabéha
Wink Salon & Spa