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All Children with Autism can Learn

Autism is a broad spectrum developmental disorder that impairs communication and socialization.  Individuals afflicted with this disorder also exhibit highly repetitive, stereotypic and possibly aggressive or self-injurious behaviors.  The Center for Disease Control estimates that the rate of autism can be as high as 1 in every 166 children born in the United States.  This estimate makes autism the second most prevalent developmental disorder behind mental retardation and surpasses both Cerebral Palsy and Down’s syndrome.  Males are four times more likely to be diagnosed with autism than females and it knows no social, economic or racial boundaries.  Although numerous research studies are underway, the cause of autism is still unknown.  Although there is no known cure for autism, a treatment methodology using principles of the science of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) has shown effectiveness in teaching children with autism.  ABA uses the concept of positive reinforcement to teach functional skills to children by breaking down individual skills into its basic components and teaching each component individually.  Each skill taught is the foundation for the next skill.  Data is meticulously taken to track the progress of each skill and the program is tweaked to ensure the optimal rate of skill acquisition.  Currently, ABA is the only proven effective treatment method for autism.

The fundamental belief of Garden Academy is that all children with autism can learn.  By using principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), Garden Academy School for Children with Autism, with the help of world-renowned Princeton Child Development Institute (PCDI), will set out to teach children with autism to lead the most functional and independent lives as possible and to be contributing members of society.

For more information:

Garden Academy
Please consider joining
Garden Academy for their 2nd Annual Golf Outing to be held on July 11. Email for more information.

Center for Behavior Studies

Princeton Child Development Institute

Inspire Your World:
A Lesson in Hope


>>>>Do You Know Someone Who Needs a Little HOPE? Do You Know Someone Who Has a Lot of HOPE?
“Hope is the thing with feathers / That perches in the soul / And sings the tunes without the words / And never stops-at all” Emily Dickenson

Voices of Hope is interested in hearing your voice. Our projects and programs speak to such issues as public education, volunteering, advocacy, media literacy, civic pride and engagement, youth, sex, substance abuse, violence, policy, learning, love, and life in America. Please share your thoughts, opinions and experiences. We make films that deal with issues, ideas
and change and believe that collaboratively we can all spread a little HOPE.


>>>>The Grace of Volunteers
Have you ever had the opportunity to hand a check of funds raised to a worthy organization? Have you ever pounded nails into a wall with the knowledge that a family would eventually call what you were building "home"? Have you ever donned a clown's nose and paraded through a pediatric ward asking for nothing more than smiles from children who all to often have so little to smile about? Have you ever stood at a local grocery store on Thanksgiving Day and asked for donations for the local food pantry? Have you ever escorted a child with cerebral palsy around a riding arena on horseback?

Can you remember the feeling?

Do you remember the knot in your throat as you choked back tears? Do you remember the gratitude you felt for all that you have been blessed with? These are the rewards of giving, and as valuable and necessary as financial contributions are, you aren't afforded the true humanity of experiencing the real rewards of volunteering by simply making a donation.

Volunteering does as much, if not more, for those who volunteer as it does for the recipient. It’s easy to reach into our purse and hand over ‘alms for the poor’ but it’s more difficult, but, oh so more rewarding to agree to give time and talent in addition to tithe. The time and talent part make it personal…it brings the organization home, and allows the volunteer to feel ownership; a feeling of pride knowing that our deeds have helped another person, passion, or cause.

Consider This ~ Grace and gratitude are received in equal portions when we give from our hearts and not just our purse.

Visit organizations with great volunteering hearts:

> Governors Office of Volunteerism - Through promotion, coordination and enhancement of citizen participation, the Governor's Office of Volunteerism supports the growth and development of volunteer organizations and activities throughout the State of New Jersey. The Office serves as a statewide liaison between public, private, local, state and national volunteer programs.
> Project Linus, NJ - Over 4,700 dedicated volunteer “blanketeers” create original, handmade blankets, preemie sets for fragile newborns and hand crafted toys for children suffering serious illness and trauma. <<watch video>> (quicktime and broadband needed)
> Kiwanis - A global organization of volunteers dedicated to changing the world one child and one community at a time. Did you know that 3,123 members in 110 Kiwanis Clubs have donated over $177,956.00, volunteered over 52,057 hours, and completed over 1,130 hands-on service projects since October 1, 2004, and have donated over $1,038,124.00, volunteered over 173,550 hours, and completed over 4,383 hands-on service projects since October 1, 2002
For more information visit: Mt. Olive Kiwanis

Online Survey Soliciting Feedback from Nonprofit Leaders
The Global Committee on the Future of Organization Development
is co-sponsoring an anonymous online survey now through July 15 to obtain candid feedback from nonprofit leaders worldwide on the major factors driving their success from a people and an organizational perspective, as well as the challenges they face in becoming stronger and more effective.


>>>>On Media>>>> 5 Voices
Book: Soul of a Citizen - Based on thirty years studying the psychology of social involvement, Loeb describes how ordinary citizens can make their voices heard and their actions count in a time when we're often told neither matter.
Children and Media - A Guide for Parents - Discover how TV, movies, advertising, computers and video games can shape a child's development and what you can do to create a media-literate household.
Studio 360 - Idaho Dynamite - All of us are tempted and sometimes give in to the temptation to indulge in stereotypes of unfamiliar places and people, instead of really knowing and experiencing them. The Idaho state legislature just passed a remarkable bill, a resolution commending a recent Hollywood film and its director.
"Street Fight" covers the turbulent campaign of Cory Booker, a 32-year old Rhodes Scholar/Yale Law graduate running for mayor of Newark, N.J. against Sharpe James, the four-term incumbent twice his age. Fresh from winning awards at the HotDocs and Tribeca film festivals, "Street Fight" is this year's political thriller.
- A free magazine from The George Lucus Foundation that gives practical, hands-on insight into what works now, what's on the horizon and who's shaping and changing the future of education.

>>>>Product Placements in a School Textbook?- A few years ago, McGraw-Hill published a sixth-grade math textbook littered with product placements. Exercises required students to find the diameter of an Oreo cookie ("The best-selling packaged cookie in the world") and informed them that "Consumers can purchase unique clothing and accessories, and products for the home [from Land's End]." The Toronto Star recently discovered that McGraw-Hill is now marketing textbook ads to corporate advertisers.
Read Blog

>>>>The Facts About TV - "It's Just Harmless Television" Oh Really?
Recent Statistics

>>>>Big Media Wants a Piece of Your Pod -Forrester Research has suggested that by the end of the decade, 12 million people will be listening to podcasts as part of their media diet.


>>>>Voices of Hope Interviews

1st Grade Readers in Turkey Peform Cinderella to an Audience of 200
in the Small Town Center of Yalikavak
In a little town on the Aegean coast of Turkey called Yalikavak, a first grade school teacher, Ms. Perihan Tiriç directed her students in a performance of the well-known western story—Cinderella. With bright costumes, a modern sound system, clean lighting and cheerful, mobilized backdrops, the children enthusiastically acted out their roles to an audience of over 200 parents, friends, school children and onlookers in the town center.

In Turkey there is a tradition when children begin learning to read and write called 'Reading Festivals.' Ms.Tiriç says "At this age children are dreamers—some children like poems and some like performing a play like Cinderella. I tried to touch on a variety of subjects for our Reading Festival because I feel the children learn to read more successfully that way."

The play and variety show, lasting nearly 3 hours, concluded with a beautiful and touching tribute to the children's mothers. Ms. Tiriç directed the children to give each mother a rose and say a few words of appreciation. Nearly 30 children came to the stage individually, some tearing and choking up, yet confidently expressing their words of love. When asked about this unusual act, Ms.Tirig expressed "The children learned to read and write this year. Mothers play as large a part as I do in teaching them. We had fun, we had monologues, we had poetry and we had happiness. I wanted a positive gesture for the mothers." Words of love and appreciation are easy to comprehend, even when you don't know the language.
It was certainly an experience never to be forgotten.

The 'Reading Festival" was so successful in entertaining the town that Ms. Tirig reported getting a congratulatory phone call at midnight from the Mayor of Yalikavak, Mustafa Saruhan. Ms. Tiriç adds, "I'm happy, I've reached my goal."

Special thanks to Emre Ersolmaz for his translation of the interview with Ms. Perihan Tiriç.


In an interview with Voices of Hope, Renee Hobbs talks about the importance of reading the language and images of media as well as the printed word. Renee Hobbs is one of the leading authorities on media literacy education. She is an Associate Professor of Communications and Director of the Media Education Lab at Temple University. Renee is also the co-founder of the Alliance for a Media Literate America.

VOH: Why do you feel it’s important to stress Media Literacy in today’s society?
RH: Students are swimming in a media sea and technology is more a part of their cultural experience, so media literacy is important because the texts that students consume, and interpret and read are film texts and audio visual texts and media texts and technology texts. Another reason that media literacy is important is because more and more information comes to us from so many different sources, that the gate-keeping function has long since disappeared. As we see all different kinds of messages out there, people really need to have a set of critical thinking skills to make sense of it all. We are all suffering from ‘Information overload’. Media Literacy helps sort out the wide range of messages we get in our culture, and finally, the concept that is becoming really important to me, now that I am really beginning to understand, is that media literacy is really just an extended conceptualization of literacy. Literacy is a very powerful function for people. It enables us to be truly human; to share and express meanings using a wide range of tools and technologies. Really to be literate in an age of multi-media messages, one has to be able to read the language and images of media, as well as the printed word.

VOH: How can media help educators teach to the core curriculum standards?
RH: Media is a powerful teaching tool. We often get the opportunity to visualize important concepts in Biology or in Physics or in History, as we see it enacted on the screen, and media have always been tremendously valuable teaching tools, so educational multi-media is alive and well in the American classroom, and is certainly a valuable tool for teaching the Core Subject Areas. At the same time, however, there’s a real dangerous phenomenon that exists in American public schools, and that is a powerful misuse of media in the classrooms. Just as we sometimes use television in the home as a babysitter, as a break, as a reward for when students have been good, too often in American classrooms, teachers use media ‘not for real work’, not where you really need to invest your energy, but as this reward, break or entertainment. That actually creates a message to students that cuts against what we are trying to do in Media Literacy, where we are trying to say: “Treat these texts seriously. Look at these things. Analyze them. Study them. Respect them as forms of communication.” But when TV is used as a babysitter in schools, then that sends kids the wrong message, that TV shouldn’t be taken seriously, or is less serious than texts. Media Literacy can’t really succeed in public schools until that practice, which is so unquestioned, and so normal in so many public schools—that practice needs to be questioned, and transformed. Read Interview


Voices of Hope Productions
is dedicated to educate and invoke social change through documentary filmmaking and media literacy.

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