Addie Is Learning Languages w/ Device!

Last October, Addie received her second communication device from Variety’s My Voice® Program.

The night she got her new device, Addie’s mom, Hope shared with joy,

“Today, Addie brought home her new Variety communication device!

She already loves exploring all the libraries and vocabulary options on it, and I’ve included a photo of her exploring the Spanish language library!

This makes me so happy because Addie LOVES different languages, and currently, her favorite library books are foreign language dictionaries!

We have Spanish, Polish, German and Italian children’s dictionaries at home right now.

Addie loves Dora the Explorer and has spontaneously typed phrases in Spanish on several occasions.

So, we were THRILLED to see a Spanish language library (and French!) Included in the TouchChat software!

I am really looking forward to Addie learning more Spanish and showing us what she can do with her new communication device!

We are so incredibly grateful!”

P.S. You can help us, help even more kids with a donation of any amount, or by simply sharing our program handout with those in your community. You just never know how your support will help another child live life to the fullest.

My Holiday Hope & Owen’s Joy!

With it being my last holiday season as your Chief ‘Excitement’ Officer, I hope you’ll consider an end-of-year donation to celebrate all the impact we’ve created together over many years.

Community support has been critical to the success of our programs, which are truly changing the lives of kids with disabilities and their families for the better.

Since 2012, Variety has presented more than 6,900 adaptive bikes, adaptive strollers, and communication devices (worth more than $10.4 million in equipment) – thanks to incredible community supporters.

If you’re able, you can give a donation online at www.varietypittsburgh.org/donate, or can use this donation form to mail in a donation — truly, any amount makes such a difference.

As a special thanks, I wanted to share a photo of Owen, who used his communication device to visit with Santa Claus a few weeks ago!

Owen’s mom, Danielle shared with joy, “Owen has been doing amazing with his communication device. It’s been life changing! We just got out Santa pictures and I had to share this with you. Thank you for everything!”

Thanks for being a part of Variety’s work, where IT’S ALL ABOUT THE KIDS!

Take good care,

Charlie

Charles P. LaVallee
Chief Executive Officer
Variety – the Children’s Charity

Every Child Deserves A Voice.

With the help of our kids and families, we created a Documentary Short entitled, Every Child Deserves A Voice, which explores the tremendous need of kids living without a voice, and the incredible impact that’s being created through our My Voice® Program.

Please take 15-minutes to watch and truly understand what a communication device means, and help us to share this video anywhere you can to make this invisible issue visible.

Right now, My Voice also has 400 communication devices funded through the PA Department of Community and Economic Development, and we’re ready to present them to eligible kids that need their own device.

Also, we continue to look for every eligible child that needs a voice, and we want to find more than 400 kids to emphasize the critical need.

We sincerely appreciate your time to watch, share, and help us, help even more kids that need their own communication device!


PLEASE WATCH & SHARE,

Every Child Deserves A Voice.

A Documentary Short featuring Tyler, Mia, Janessa, Brooke, and Rowan.

No child should live without a way to communicate.

Help us share the word locally that 400 communication devices are available by:

  • sharing the video and info. on social media;
  • confirming with other families in your network that they know about our communication program;
  • asking if your child’s school will kindly inform all students of our free programs;
  • asking your employer to kindly distribute the information to all employees;
  • submitting information in a local newsletter or e-mail blast;
  • reaching out to local groups to help distribute the information (your congregation, parent group).

For any family interested in applying or re-applying for a communication device, you learn more at www.varietypittsburgh.org/my-voice/overview.

If anyone has questions or needs an application mailed to them, please feel free to call our office at 724-933-0460 or email us at info@varietypittsburgh.org.

 

Our My Voice® Program is financed {in part} by a grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Community and Economic Development as well as generously funded by community donations.

Comm Device Enables Brishauna to WORK!

At 19 years old, Brishauna has received two communication devices through Variety’s My Voice Program, and In her words, Brishauna told us,

“The Variety commutation device helps me communicate with my friends and co-workers as well as fans at PNC Park and Acrisure Stadium, where I work!!

Sometimes it’s frustrating to communicate wants and needs for myself, so I thank you Variety for giving me a voice using my communication device.”

At Variety’s Gala on October 13th, Brishauna and her family joined us, including her dad, Leshaun (both pictured above), who works with his daughter at Acrisure Stadium.

Leshaun explained how he setup Brishauna’s communication device, so that she can communicate to customers and WORK!

He uses a blue tooth connection between the comm device and a speaker, so Brishauna can greet each customer, ask for their order, and confirm their order is correct before getting it and checking them out.

Not only do the customers LOVE seeing Brishauna, but the entire team enjoys having her working with them just as much.

Leshaun said that customers love her so much, Brishauna comes home with BIG tips that she earns on her own – upwards of $500 a night!

In addition to her communication device, Brishauna also received an adaptive bike from Variety, which she absolutely loves to ride (all smiles above)!

Embracing Their Struggles & Providing HOPE

It’s another reason to smile, as Maryn’s mom, Jolie explained the daily challenges their family faces, and the ways that Variety helped to make life better.

Jolie shared,

People don’t see the struggles we go through on a daily basis to normalize life for our kids and get them out into the community… It is overwhelming and difficult.

For example, breaking down a large wheelchair is really tough. If you don’t have family around to help, it is even more difficult. And, no one understands.

Variety is a blessing and Maryn’s adaptive stroller makes such a difference!

Maryn also received a communication device, and now she has a voice!

Just now, she let us know with her device that she wanted something to drink, so we were able to get her a drink.

You can see the frustration and the meltdowns when Maryn can’t communicate, but this device truly gives her a voice.

The device helps us understand all these things that make her world go round. It takes so much stress off of not just Maryn, but the family as a whole.

Maryn has a twin sister, Amae, who also received an adaptive bike from Variety… your organization has been such a blessing for our family.”

6,000 and Counting!!

A few months ago, we officially surpassed 6,000 pieces of life-changing equipment presented to kids with disabilities – something we all can celebrate, together!

#6,000 was a communication device for 4-year-old, Noah, who is using it above to request chips!

His mom, Lucrecia explained why her son needs his own communication device and the difference it will make on a daily basis, by saying,

“I am writing to you as the mother of a toddler, who has been diagnosed with Autism.

As you can imagine, when we received this news it was very hard to take in, but as a family, we are trying to make the best of a challenging situation.

A mother’s love for her child is unparalleled.

I have so much love and compassion for my son, Noah, and on his behalf, I want to advocate for him to have all the opportunities that I can offer him, especially as he starts his journey of learning and living in this world.

I enrolled him in a Program that has assisted him in his development, and he recently had a breakthrough success. He was completely non-speaking when he started the Program, and then the other day, he verbally said two words, ‘Go’ and ‘Yea.’

I broke down in tears of joy by this tremendous moment!

Having his own communication device to utilize 24/7 will make all the difference in the world, especially with Noah’s learning and development.

This communication device will also have a huge impact on us, his parents, as well as Noah’s brother and sister because he will be able to communicate with everyone around him.”

After receiving his new communication device from Variety, Lucrecia told us, “Thank you again so much to everyone that has Helped myself and my Babyboy. I want to thank Them a million times!!”

“That just makes my heart leap!”

Last Tuesday, we had a conversation with Wren, mother of 5-year-old Bjorn (pictured below), who received his own communication device from Variety in February… and we simply can’t stop talking about it!

Wren explained all the ways that having a communication device has truly changed her son’s life, and her own, by saying,

“Since receiving the communication device, Bjorn has gone from being a completely non-speaking child, to using his device to communicate with everyone, and it has been the most beautiful transformation to watch!!

Now, Bjorn is SO HAPPY because the device is easy for him to use and he gets his points across… he requests things, identifies things, picks his clothes out every morning, and even says what he wants to do next…

He’ll use his device to say, ‘Going to grammy’s house!’ with a smile.

Bjorn put his own picture in there and loves introducing himself to others – the device has been like a miracle.

I can’t wait to see where the device takes him because now, he has no more limitations.

Bjorn talks to me in the car with his device, and since receiving it, our relationship is so much closer now that we can communicate and that just makes my heart leap.

He’s in preschool and starting Kindergarten next fall, and through his device, he shows us that he knows so much! He knows his shapes, numbers, and places, and he loves that it’s speaking the words for him.

Bjorn takes ownership of the device, and he takes it everywhere he goes. His confidence is truly soaring because of the communication device.”

Some Quick Joy!

We simply wanted to share some QUICK good news to brighten your day.

Now that Grace has her own communication device, she is simply “going to soar” in life, as her Speech Language Pathologist, Alix shared,

“Grace was presented her device today with her mom and class!
We are so thrilled and excited, and her er reaction to it was priceless!
The first thing she did was request her favorite snack, goldfish, and say ‘HI’ to her favorite peer in her classroom.
We are all so thankful for this opportunity and equipment for Grace.
You at Variety were our light at the end of the tunnel, and we can’t wait to watch Grace soar because of you!
THANK YOU!!!”

Program Updates & Some Good News!

We’re thrilled to share our updated program handout and program application for 2023 that include increased income guidelines!

I hope you’ll share these with families, peers, and others in your network/community that may benefit from our mobility and communication programs (or know someone else that can).

Our programs are truly impacting kids, like Zeke and Joanna, who are all smiles below on their new adaptive bikes!

Zeke is ready to ride on his new adaptive bike (above), and prior to receiving it, his mom, Katherine told us,

“Zeke would love to have more ways to play with other kids and do more ‘regular stuff’ (as he says). He often chooses to sit out because he feels he won’t keep up. Being able to join in with bikes in the alley in a way he can do would be amazing.

His balance, endurance, strength, and coordination would make a standard bike extremely challenging, but an adaptive bike would be a great option for him. Zeke’s adaptive stroller has let us do SO much more in the community and has really eased medical appointments – we’re excited to see how he will grow from having a bike!”

Smile along with Joanna and her family (below)!

Before receiving her new set-of-wheels, Joanna’s parents, Julia and Jason shared how much this new bike means, by saying,

“Joanna has an older brother and two younger sisters. Her sisters are learning how to ride independently, and she wants to be able to ride with them. We’ve tried several different tricycles, but haven’t found one that works efficiently for her. An adaptive bike that is fitted just for her will not only help her continue to gain strength but also confidence and independence, while joining her siblings in an activity that they love.”

Both bikes for Zeke and Joanna were generously sponsored via funds raised by Al’s Bike Drive, which sponsored 10 bikes altogether!!

Lyla Turned 3 With A New Voice!

We have a unique chance to help kids gain their own communication devices on a much larger scale, as we strive to reach every eligible child that can benefit from our My Voice Program.

Thanks to input from Speech Language Pathologists, we’re also now reaching an incredible number of younger kids (ages 3-5), and we are hearing incredible success stories at an early age.

More than ever before, we have an exciting opportunity with My Voice, and our work is to help kids live life to the fullest – like Lyla.

Last Thursday, Lyla celebrated her 3rd birthday, and the next day, she received her new communication device! Lyla’s mom, Rebecca explained to us,

“Lyla is 3 and she’s unable to use words or enough signs to communicate her wants, needs or feelings.

This communication device will allow her to tell us what she needs on a daily basis, or how she’s currently feeling – like when she is happy or sad.

With this device, she can share in family activities more and build skills needed to thrive in the home as well as to prepare her for starting pre-school soon.

She has been trialing different communication apps with her speech therapists, and it’s like a whole new world opened up for Lyla. For instance, she could never tell us if she wanted to play – like with cars or a ball, but with the device, she can.

We have already learned so much more about her that we didn’t know and we’re eager to learn more.

Last September, we finalized Lyla’s adoption, and as a family, we want to provide everything we can to help her continue to make progress.

We have had her for a year, but now we see a new spark in her eyes because she is able to communicate more with us. The device will help us build stronger bonds  with Lyla because we will be able to meet her specific needs.

Through the device, we also now know she is learning and picking up on skills that we had no idea she even knew.

As her parents, we simply hope to continue to help her be successful throughout her whole life — to let Lyla be the best Lyla that she can be and this device will help make that possible.”

With a device, Lyla can now communicate with her parents, her sister, and three brothers at home 24/7, as well as anywhere life takes her.

Can you imagine the difference a communication device will make for Lyla and her newly adopted family over the years to come?…

As always, thank you all so much for being a part of the Variety community, where it’s truly ALL ABOUT THE KIDS!

Take good care,

Charlie

P.S. Variety accepts applications all-year-long for adaptive bikes, adaptive strollers, and communication devices, so please help us share the word to your networks (www.varietypittsburgh.org/applynow/).