The Children's Institute Blog

Nurturing the Mind, Body, and Spirit

Posted by The Children's Institute - Oct 08, 2019

Nurturing the Mind, Body, and Spirit
Helping a child to reach his or her full potential requires a dynamic process of growth and change that comes from caring for the mind, the body, and the spirit. This is the hallmark of how The Children's Institute of Pittsburgh has worked to meet its mission for more than a century.

"The Children's Institute has a rich history of providing comprehensive care to treat the whole person," explains Stacey Vaccaro, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for The Children's Institute. "As the need for community-based health services continues to grow, we are positioning the organization to extend our reach throughout the area, offering families better access to high-quality outpatient behavioral health care we provide." Read More...



Blooming with Artistic Talent

Posted by The Children's Institute - Oct 02, 2019

Jarrod Edson holding a piece of his artwork
Young Jarrod Edson loved to doodle – and his autism is an asset to his artistry. For Jarrod, drawing was subconscious. While his attention was focused on other activities, Jarrod’s hand would be busy transferring his thoughts to paper.

“Jarrod’s doodles quickly became elaborate,” remembers his mother, Kuhoo. “By the time he was five, Jarrod was creating prolific, abstract artwork on just about any surface he could find.” Read More...



Beep for B'man

Posted by The Children's Institute - Sep 24, 2019

Image of B'man and brother
Sometimes it is the simple things that make people smile. For Bill Carney, affectionately known as “B’man,” a student with cerebral palsy in The Day School at The Children’s Institute of Pittsburgh – it’s the sound of beeping cars that makes him smile and laugh. This joy sparked a local movement to “Beep for B’man,” soliciting honks, beeps, and waves from the driving public that spot B’man in his “corner office” in Fox Chapel Plaza. Read More...



Transition Skills Blossom

Posted by The Children's Institute - Sep 17, 2019

Image of student standing proudly with garden shovel
A seed of an idea burst into full bloom more than 15 years ago when staff in The Day School began to discuss how simple planting activities that individual teachers were using in the classroom could grow into a comprehensive program. Their work culminated in the development of The Day School Gardening Club.

“Gardening is motivational and great for the mental health of any individual,” says Lisa Paglia, Community-Based Instruction Facilitator/Volunteer Job Developer for The Day School. “For those with special needs, gardening also advances developmental, social, and recreation and leisure skills.” Read More...



Accessibility & Communication: Dylan Shares His Story

Posted by The Children's Institute - Sep 10, 2019

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The Art of Accessibility

Posted by The Children's Institute - Sep 03, 2019

Dr. Mark Friedman with EyeTyper device and child
For more than a century, The Children’s Institute of Pittsburgh has celebrated the achievements of our amazing kids, young people, and families. We see every day the impact a person makes on their world when they have access to the tools they need to connect with others. Our unwavering commitment to improve the quality of life for people living with disabilities positions us as innovators and advocates for accessibility in many forms.

We reflect back to the early 1980s when our volunteer Director of Rehabilitation Engineering – Carnegie Mellon University Professor Dr. Mark Friedman – designed the EyeTyper. This technology used advanced eye tracking and eye control technology to produce computer-generated speech, enabling those who were non-verbal to interact with the world around them. From the EyeTyper, numerous Tobii Dynavox devices have been developed in response to growing demand and through advances in research and technology.

This amazing piece of our history is now on display as part of a powerful temporary exhibit at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh - through September 8, 2019. This special exhibit, Access+Ability, resonates deeply with The Children’s Institute as it highlights the extraordinary research and pioneering technology that have given a new voice to those with special needs, enabling them to convey personal decisions, express feelings, and actively engage with loved ones and the communities where they live. Read More...



A Second Chance: Project STAR Prioritizes Permanency for Transition-Age Youth

Posted by The Children's Institute - Aug 27, 2019

Chance with his adoptive family
Chance had to be removed from his unsafe home environment when he was just four years old. He endured more than 30 different foster care placements over the next decade before he was adopted – at age 15 – in November 2015 by Tony Ranalli and Casey Chandler.

“I had almost given up,” says Chance, now 20. “I was a tough kid who had issues with authority and just assumed I would always be on my own. But Tony and Casey were really patient with me, and now I have people in my life who I can really count on.” Read More...



Wayne's Garden Grows

Posted by The Children's Institute - Aug 20, 2019

Student Wayne Gardening
Wayne Marshall is all business when he gardens. A transition-age student in an adult prep classroom at The Day School of The Children’s Institute of Pittsburgh, Wayne is in his element when he is working in the garden.

“Wayne is a really hard worker, and he takes pride in seeing the results of his efforts,” describes Bob Russell, Work Evaluation and Training Center Teacher at The Day School. “Through gardening, he is also mastering work skills and developing a lifelong recreation and leisure activity.”

Wayne was a preschooler when he sustained a life-altering brain injury that also compromised his left hand and leg. Never one to let his disability impede his progress, Wayne likes to stay busy participating in new experiences. Through The Day School’s community-based instruction activities, Wayne has been actively contributing to the Squirrel Hill neighborhood in various ways since he was 14 years old.  Read More...



The Day School MOVEs with a Purpose

Posted by The Children's Institute - Aug 13, 2019

Image of physical therapist with student in stander
At The Day School at The Children’s Institute of Pittsburgh, every movement is a teaching moment.

“MOVE is integrated into every aspect of our school day,” explains Stephanie Brink, PT, DPT, Lead Physical Therapist at The Day School. “Our entire team of therapists, teachers, classroom aides, and ancillary staff has taken ownership of this distinctive program that addresses the importance of movement to improve independence, dignity, and inclusion.” Read More...



55 Years as Family

Posted by The Children's Institute - Aug 06, 2019

Ginny Thornburgh places birthday cake in front of young son Peter
The Thornburghs and The Children’s Institute of Pittsburgh have been family for more than a half century.

“It has been 55 years since Peter and I walked tentatively up the Denniston Street steps, and I still remember the emotion of that day,” reflects Ginny Thornburgh. Peter became Ginny’s son in 1963 upon her marriage to Dick, the 41st Governor of Pennsylvania and former U.S. Attorney General. 

Peter, who was approaching his fourth birthday on that cold January morning in 1964, had suffered severe brain injuries as an infant, the result of a car accident that killed his mother and injured his two older brothers. He was the first child to be accepted at The Children’s Institute (then The Home for Crippled Children) as a traumatic brain injury patient. Read More...



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