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PALS  Newsletter - October/November/December 2014
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PALS would like to take this opportunity to thank the many people and organizations who generously donated to the school and adult program in October and November; CKNW  Orphans' Fund, Edelman, Bruce and Karin Goldsmid, Houweling's Tomatoes, Farhad Jamali, Raymond Lee, The Morris and Helen Belkin Foundation, Goli Parvizian and Womans Media Golf Classic. This support allows us to continue delivering exceptional academic, behavioural, and life skills programming to students and young adults with autism spectrum disorders.
‘Home for the Holidays’ at The Sutton Place Hotel
-By Andrea Kasunic

PALS Autism School once again is the benefiting charity for The Sutton Place Hotel’s 9th annual fundraising initiative, “Home for the Holidays” Tree Pageant. For those who haven’t yet had the chance to take in this festive event, the downtown Vancouver hotel transforms it’s lobby into a winter wonderland, host to a fundraiser that sees local Vancouver home designers, stagers, and retailers competing to create signature trees, showcased for guests and local Vancouverites to enjoy. People are encouraged to vote for their favourite tree on display until January 2nd, 2015, with a minimum $5.00 donation to benefit PALS. Every ballot is also entered into a draw to win fabulous prizes, courtesy of The Sutton Place Hotel.
The benefiting charity is given prime real estate in the hotel lobby to display its own tree, decorated by the PALS Parent Support Group. With the theme “All You Need is Love”, students decorated hearts and had their pictures taken holding the items they love most –we think it is truly worthy of centre stage! Thank you to the Adult Program for assembling the beautiful gold frames. All money raised from the event will go towards the School Program’s summer initiatives. Offering a fun and enriching year round program is one of the important defining features of the school, and as students Casey and Douglas exclaimed in their kick-off speech, they’re sure looking forward to next year’s adventures! 
On Tuesday December 2nd, a large group of supporters gathered to learn more about PALS and to kick-off the initiative with a wine and cheese tasting. Thank you to The Sutton Place Hotel for inviting PALS to the reception and for supporting us again in this wonderful fundraising event.
Fall Field Trip Fun!                  
-By Gavin Karpel

With Halloween just around the corner, PALS embarked on their first field trip of the year to the Richmond Country Farm’s pumpkin patch. We boarded the bus to a gloomy dark sky and headed for Richmond. When we arrived, the clouds parted and we were greeted with a beautiful blue sky and sunshine. The good luck continued as the whole school got to ride on the farm’s brand new red train. The students were ecstatic after the ride, and got to burn off the extra energy by running around and playing in the giant haystack.  After lunch, everyone boarded a tractor trailer for a ride to the pumpkin patch. Each student had the opportunity to choose a pumpkin which was brought back to PALS to decorate for Halloween.
After a fun and successful first field trip, the students were extremely excited for their next community outing to Watermania, also in Richmond. On the morning of the trip, the school was buzzing with energy as the students could not wait to get to the indoor wavepool. We were very lucky to arrive to a completely empty water park. We essentially had the place to ourselves! The students and staff enjoyed splashing and swimming in the wave pool. Laughter was heard throughout the building as everyone was having a blast. Overall the two field trips were full of great times had by all. Thank you to the PALS Parent Support Group for fundraising the necessary money to go on these very worthwhile trips.

“Friends understand each other even if not a single word is spoken”
-By Shona Carle

The school was fortunate to have the wonderful group of PenPALS from Sir Winston Churchill Secondary join us on two different occasions this term. Although the PenPALS have little experience with autism, they have lots of experience in having fun. When we come together, the result is always an afternoon full of excitement, exposure to new activities, and lasting memories.
In October, the PenPALS organized “PAL-o-ween”! The students were entertained with telling spooky stories; making creative masks, and dancing to music from Thriller and the Monster Mash(seeing the staff try to dance was especially scary!) The art was displayed on a large night time background, created in advanced by the talented artists from the PenPALS group. In keeping with tradition, the afternoon ended with a group sing-along and everyone was treated to a healthy snack of tangerines and celery that were peeled and arranged to look like little pumpkins. A very cool (and healthy) idea!
A winter theme of “Jingle PALS” brought a smaller team back in late November, and again there were several different fun activity stations the students rotated throughout. Jars were decorated and later filled with delicious hot chocolate, marshmallows, tea and sugar for all to enjoy later with family. Cute snowmen were made from doilies and everyone practiced their dance moves to both fast and slow-paced top 40! The staff members’ dancing skills are slowly improving as we learn a few new moves! Instead of a group sing-along, we all came together, sat in a big circle and shared our favorite winter memory while we passing a beautiful ball of wool back and forth to our friends. The result was a spectacular snowflake design.
A big thank you to all the PenPALS who volunteer their time and fund all the activities on their own. The afternoons we spend together are so special and we truly appreciate the great deal of thought and preparation that goes into each visit.
Head of Adult Program Article                               
-By Karin Terado

Well, it’s been a very busy fall what with getting to know our new students and planning for this term – an exciting and challenging time of the year!   Some of the highlights we’ve experienced over the past several months include: celebrating our Thanksgiving lunch together as a program, Beth and Karl’s amazing shopping expedition (more about that later!), Julia’s promotion (more about that later too!), new student intakes, shared classes with our Frog Hollow Neighbourhood House Seniors group who have cooked their way into our hearts and our 5th Annual Parent Meet and Greet. This year has been a special one as we once again welcomed our new parents and returning families but with an exciting twist.  This year our families were able to see a special video, made especially for this event, entitled “Welcome to PALS Adult Program” which was made by our staff and students (special thanks goes to Nikki F who spearheaded this project).  It highlights what the students do in the program, on a day-to-day basis, much more effectively than words can - and it’s funny too!
On a slightly different note I would like to say a special thank you to Sarah C. as she says goodbye to PALS.  Sarah has been a dedicated, respected and very well-liked colleague and friend of the program.  Her students have been very fortunate indeed to have had Sarah as their instructor and we have all benefitted greatly from her laughter, her sense of fun and her obvious joy and commitment to her work – we’ll miss you Sarah and the best of luck in all of your future endeavours!
In closing, as we prepare for the Christmas Season, and all of the exciting activities that lie ahead (decorating the office, a visit to see PALS Christmas Tree at the Sutton Place Hotel, staff parties, program parties and Secret Santa gifts, Christmas skits and staff/student lunches etc , I would like to take this opportunity to thank our community for your support, our donors, our Board of Directors, our staff and volunteers, but most of all our families and students who are the heart of PALS programs.  Have a wonderful Christmas and a happy holiday season!

Teaching Resources                                                       
– By Nicky Waring

Finding teaching resources suitable for adults with ASD has been a constant challenge at the Adult Program.  So over the last year we have started work on a comprehensive curriculum covering Social Skills, Vocational Training, Community Participation and Life Skills with units of work and resources that will take the students through 3 levels of progression.  We have also developed a detailed assessment and target setting program to assess students on entry and then assess their progress in each area every quarter.  Throughout all areas of the curriculum we are also working on Executive functioning skills and are developing resources and strategies to help students with their planning and time management skills.  The aim is to have a practical, age-appropriate curriculum and resources with high quality resources for young adults with a range of language skills that we could potentially share with other providers and the community.
Julia’s Promotion at EFAP!                                             
– By Nikki Fung

Julia has been working at the Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) for a year now.  She goes twice a week and is responsible for completing tasks such as pulling files from the cabinets, prepping the files for scanning (i.e counting pages, write client ID numbers, removing staples), scanning the files, and inputting the files in the computer (changing the name and saving the files into certain folders).  She has been doing amazing at this job, continually exceeding any expectations set for her! To date, she was worked 140 hours and in that time, she has pulled 350 files, prepped 1,632 files, scanned 2,105 files, and inputted 1,685 files into the computer!!  Due to her tremendous success and ability to surpass every goal set for her, EFAP approached us about the possibility of giving Julia a promotion and adding another task to her ever growing roster of duties.  Of course we were thrilled to hear this news!  Starting this week, Julia is now officially responsible for typing out all the minutes for designated meetings. Since Julia can type faster and more accurately than even I can, I knew this would be a breeze for her!  In her first day, she typed 4 full pages of minutes in under an hour, when we were expecting it to take more! She then went on to complete her other tasks such as scanning etc.  This entire experience taught me to never set limits on Julia’s capabilities because she will most definitely prove everyone wrong! She is a brilliant and extremely hardworking individual and we all look forward to watching her grow and learn as she continues to move forward in this job!
Finding the Pie Crust  
-By Bethany and Karl    
On Thursday, October 9th we went grocery shopping for our Thanksgiving lunch at PALS.  We had a brand new list of items on our iPad shopping list that we had never found before.  We used our iPad to find these new item. We found them all!!

We also had to get a pie crust at the last minute so we didn’t have time to put it in our iPad.  Nikki said we would find it together after because she didn’t know where it was.  While we were shopping we decided to find it ourselves without using the iPad or asking Nikki for help!!  Because a pie crust is used in baking, we thought we would look in the baking aisle.  We found it!!!!!!
Nikki and all our teachers are so proud of us.  We are proud of ourselves because we found it without any help!!
Danielle’s Sweet Tooth Experience
– By Monika Dudzic

Danielle’s favorite day of the week is Monday.  When asked why, she says, she just loves working at Sweet Tooth Café every Monday afternoon.  She is always excited and happy to go there.
She has been doing her Adult Program Work Experience at Sweet Tooth Café along East Hastings since the summer of 2013.  Her jobs include tidying up the coffee table, refilling the milk & cream dispensers and sugar cadies, bussing, cleaning customer tables, making sure the fridge doors, café’s front door and windows are dust-free and crystal clear, as well as watering plants.  She is doing an awesome job with these tasks and in fact, has almost mastered each one. 
In the summer of 2014, Gan Jana, her Supervisor at the café, added restocking juice bottles, recycling, washing dishes and shopping for the café in two nearby grocery stores, to her list of duties.  On top of that, Danielle is also working on customer service starting with greeting the café patrons and thanking them for coming.
When asked what else she would still like to do there, she said that she would want to take customers’ orders in the future.  With her positive attitude and willpower, plus continued support and encouragement, surely she will be able to succeed in anything she wants to do!
Q & A with Gabby                                                  
- By Gabby M., Rachael and Monika 

‘Grinch: The Musical’ is set to open at PALS this Christmas.  We were lucky enough to catch up with one of the stars to get the inside scoop...

So, Gabby what project are you working on at the moment?
The Grinch! It has lots of singing, acting and dancing.

What motivates you to perform?
I love being on stage! I like acting and dancing but singing makes me feel happy inside. I love people watching us and clapping because they like the show.

How well do the cast get along? Any back stage dramas?
Everyone is very friendly.  We can have some serious kidding around!

What areas would like to improve upon as an actress?
I really want to shine on stage. I’d love to improve my singing so I could sing like an opera star or Katy Perry!

What sort of roles would you like in the future?
My goal is to be in a musical in Hollywood. I’d love to act and sing in a show like ‘Frozen’, which happens to be my favourite movie. My greatest dream is to be famous!
A Very Fond Farewell
– By Sarah Cochrane         
I have been working at the wonderful adult program for over two years as a program instructor. I am sad to say that this is my last month with PALS as I have decided to make the move back home to Northern Ireland. What I will take with me is so many fond memories of the incredible young adults I have had the privilege of working with. There has been so much fun and laughter, along with moments of challenge and in those moments of difficulties our students have surpassed all expectations. Our young people have entered the workplace, they have taught our community to be more accepting and they have brightened the lives of all around them. I have felt so much pride in them and have learned immensely from their ability to journey on and achieve so many of their goals. 

I feel incredibly lucky to have been on this journey with them. It has been incredible to be in a job that challenges you every day, keeps you on your toes and yet has so much warmth and community. Karin, Rachael and all the staff at the adult program have been such an inspiration and I will truly miss being a part of this community. I wish everyone at PALS a bright and happy future and I'm sure our paths will cross again.
Welcome to the Adult Program                                     
– By Kari Harrison

Hello, my name is Kari Harrison and I am the newest full-time member to the PALS Adult Program team! This spring/summer I graduated from Simon Fraser University with my Bachelor’s in Psychology. Very shortly after I started volunteering with the program and also subbing. I was amazed by the incredible students as well as well as the program itself. I was excited to accept a full-time position in October and have been working with some of the newer students. I must say that the entire staff at PALS has been extremely supportive and generous and I that I am grateful for them and all the great work they do. I am eager to continue working with these wonderful students and staff!

December 17th
Winter Play - 9:30 AM

December 22 - January 2, 2015 
Winter Break - School Closed

January 5th
School Re-Opens - Winter Term

January 29th
Behaviour Analysis Workshop - No After School Care


December 22 - Jan 2, 2015
Christmas Vacation - School Closed

January 5
Professional Day - School Closed

January 6
Program Re-Opens

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