2015 Graduate Updates
A couple of months ago, I was approached by one of the Lieutenants of our Police Department and asked if I would be interested in conducting a Disability Awareness workshop for some of the newer officers. I rounded up a couple of friends…Former Leadership Graduate Lynne Aboujaoude and another parent in town Jeri Williams. The training was held on 2 different days in June for about 1 ½ hours each. In total, we had 24 police officers (mostly from Pelham but there were a 2 from 2 different border towns) and 7 Firemen from Pelham that attended the training.”
We did a Power Point Presentation and talked about our direct experiences with our children. We talked about disabilities you can see, and those that you cannot see. We talked about different sensory stressors and possible ways to de-escalate situations that could cause high anxiety (too many lights, sirens, noises, and people). We also talked about how different people may communicate in different ways and showed them some examples of different communication strategies/devices. We talked a lot about having more patience and allowing more time for people to process information. We talked about how important it was for them to recognize when they were dealing with someone with a disability and also had examples of things that had gone wrong in situations where officers did not realize they were dealing with a person with a disability. And then we did some hands-on disability awareness activities with them. They loved the activities and loved hearing about real life experiences we shared with them. We discussed how the activities made them think and feel. It was very interactive. Many officers came up and thanked us and chatted when we were through.
Myself and my 2 friends mentioned above…Lynne Aboujaoude, Class of 2006 and Jeri Williams, along with the 2 Officer’s from the Pelham Police department (Lt. Anne Perriello and Office Brian Kelly) will be receiving the “NH Governor’s Commission on Disability” Governor’s Accessibility Award for 2015 in the Community Impact Project category.
This is for work we did on developing a Town Wide Registry designed to better accommodate members of the community that have disabilities such as; Autism, Schizophrenia, Dementia or any other mental, cognitive, or developmental disabilities. It is designed to better assist First Responders in the event that our loved ones have, wandered, are lost or are in an emergency situation and are unable to verbally communicate. The program is called SOAR (Special Operations and Resources). The training we did at the Police Department in June mentioned above, came about because of the work we all did together to get the SOAR Program up and running.
The awards ceremony was Tuesday July 21st.
My name is Alicia Buono. I am originally from the Seacoast of NH and 10 years ago settled back here in Newmarket. My husband David is a local family medicine practitioner and we are blessed with three children, ages 12, 8, and 4. I am an active citizen here in my town and school, serving in many voluntary roles. I spent a great deal of my young adult life in the Boston area. I attended Boston University College of Communications as an undergrad and spent the next 14 years building my career in Marketing Communications and Business Development. The majority of my experience was as a Marketing Manager with the electronics company, Bose Corporation.
Four years ago, I took some time away from my career to focus on both the birth of our third child as well as the development of our son, Connor. Two and half years ago, we learned that Connor was living with high-functioning Autism.
Last year, in an effort to learn ways to best navigate our new reality, I decided to apply for NH Leadership. Leadership changed my life in many ways. I learned so much from the curriculum of the program as well as my dynamic classmates. I saw everything from my day-to-day life to the educational system to my political point-of-view differently.
As a recent graduate of Leadership I have been focused upon ways to stay involved in the disability community in NH. I am a newly elected board member at ABLE NH, a participant in Community Crossroads’ Policy Partners, and this current year’s Leadership mentee in the NH Leadership Series. I have recently been hired on a part time basis by NH Leadership to help with the Gala planning for the event on April 15, 2016.
I’m busy with CF advocacy and got the opportunity to bring Zoë to DC on the CF Foundations Teen Advocacy March on The Hill! It was amazing! It fosters advocacy from a young age. I think Zoë might be a leadership candidate for the future!!! We got to meet both Senators Shaheen and Ayotte and asked that they support the renewal of the EACT (Enabling Access to Clinical Trials) which is very important for the CF community. We met with staffers from Rep Kuster and Guinta’s offices. Also, we asked for support for the FDA and NIH, which will benefit the whole country and gave information on CF. And by pure co-incidence, we were there when the ACA and Marriage equality rulings were passed. It was fantastic!!
On a State level, I’m still working on the CF Family group and fundraising, and participating in the Council for Youths with Chronic conditions (I’m treasurer!). Got to meet and talk to Governor Hassan and Jeb Bush at our 4th of July parade to ask for continued support for affordable health-care for all. Looking forward to talking to other candidates as they visit Amherst! I also walked in the Amherst 4th of July Parade with the Donate Life group to help raise awareness of organ donation. As always, I’m all over the place, getting more involved in social media as a means of raising awareness - still on a mission!!
I am currently part of the Lakes Region Community Services Council, state president for the ANFP- Association of Nutrition and Food Service Professionals and of course part of the current Leadership class. Since Leadership I feel I have put more effort into any committee I am on and I have used my networking to do fun things for me. Examples: I attended a ceramic class through the Lakes Region Community Services Council and a painting class with past and current leadership members. I normally don’t do much for me; I do for others much better. So taking time with friends is a big ‘for me’. I will be starting to get involved with my local Special Olympics with my daughter in January, with the hopes of being more involved with them in the future.
My husband just was approved to start the NH-Chapter for D.A.D.S.; Dads appreciating Down syndrome. I feel that my involvement in leadership gave him drive to go forward with it. Here is the link for those who may be interested in learning more. http://nnedsc.net/DADS/
Summer 2015 Update:
Since leadership, I have become the chair of the Lakes Region Community Services Family Support Council and I am also now on their Board of Directors.
I am working at Walgreens in Raymond and Epping still, 6 hours a week and doing a new program called NH advocacy. Seems like a great group of people, and I met John Fenley at the first meeting. The next one is in a few weeks on December 17th in Concord. I had a really great thanksgiving because I got to see some of my family. Not much else going on with me, just hanging with my friends and my girlfriend and reading comics. Hoping to get together with my NH Leadership friends again soon.
I am attending Granite State College so I can complete my BSN. My son after completing treatment last winter has been able to find full time work. He is thriving and alive, he has bought himself a brand new car, working 40-60 hours/week and has lost 70 lbs in weight. Something our family didn't think we would ever see. Leadership has given me the ability to go forward and also have a life.
So far, I have joined the Leadership Council in the Lakes Region, I am trying to get on our local Family Support Council, and I have joined the PTO for my son's elementary school. I will be working on the yearbook for the next school year. I have almost accomplished my first set of goals and will continue to set new ones. I miss all of you from Leadership. There are a few of us that live close that are getting together once a month for a Leadership Mom's nite out. I am so happy that I was part of this program!! It has changed my life!!!
Winter 2016 Update:
I am on my local Lakes Region Family Support Council.
I'm super busy, but wanted to share that my husband and I are starting a grassroots coalition for substance misuse in our community, and I am using all of the amazing things I learned at leadership to make it happen.
Winter 2016 Update:
My husband and I just held a community assessment survey at our local library for Stand Up Newfound. We are a grassroots coalition intent on raising awareness of substance misuse in our community and fighting it by recognizing and calling out all community resources that build up and strengthen us. It's amazing to see things happen when people of all ages and walks of life come together. I will keep you in the loop! We just launched a website, have a Facebook page and email! I even wrote a newspaper article on "the rippling effects of addiction". Would never have known the power behind simply stepping up and out. Please thank everyone and let them know the impact they are making with their rippling effect of growing leaders!
I am a Nashua Gateways Family Support Council –Member, I am on the Exploratory Board for the McIntyre Adaptive Ski Program, and I am attending Southern New Hampshire University obtaining a certification in Language- Based Disorders.
A big win for me was no longer using ABA services and fully integrating my son into the school system. He is such a different kid! Relaxed, happy and blossoming. Thanks to the awesomeness that Leadership series has given me.