Family Team News

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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Are You A Grateful GRANDparent?

Grandparents always remember the first time they held their grandchild.
Grandparents hold a special place in our hearts. They are our trusted advisors.  They celebrate our successes and offer guidance when we are challenged. They are often the glue that keeps our families together, especially in times of crisis.
Grandparents supported the March of Dimes research when we conquered polio. We are grateful to have their support as we tackle preterm birth.

Grandparents share in the joy of each milestone of their grandchildren. Here, Nana Pamela holds Evelyn and Adrien on their first day home together from the Holy Cross Hospital NICU.
Take the Grateful GRANDparent Challenge:
Raise $1000 or more for March for Babies.  All our Grateful GRANDparents will:
 Be recognized at the March for Babies Walk
 Have their Name listed on the Chapter Family Team Blog
 Receive a Grateful GRANDparent Button
 Make a difference in babies lives everywhere
Join our Grateful GRANDparents Challenge: Contact Heather Kane at (571) 257-2311 or

Monday, February 25, 2013


Come support a DOUGH RAI$ER

to benefit the March of Dimes

Team Itty Bitty Angels

UNO will donate 20% of your check to this fund

Eat in or take out all day long!

Date: 3/3/13

Location: Manassas, VA

Must present a flyer to your server.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Early intervention for children ages 3 and older

In a prior blog post, I shared how to find early intervention services for babies and toddlers, up to age 3. In this post, I will tell you what to do if your child is between the ages of 3 and 21 years old.
Once your child turns 3, early intervention services are now called Special Education and Related Services, and your local school district becomes the provider of services to your child.

If your child had been receiving services in the babies and toddlers program, then usually the program administrator will help you with the transition to the local school district, if it is recommended that services continue. Each State is responsible for making sure that a smooth transition occurs between the existing program and that of the new preschool program.

If your child was not receiving services up until this point, you have not “missed the boat.” Often problems or issues are not evident until your child reaches school age or later. If you (or your child’s health care provider or teachers) suspect there may be a developmental issue or problem, you can request to have your child evaluated by your school district. The evaluation is free to you – it is paid for by your school district and federal funds.

How to request an evaluation

The request for an evaluation should be made in writing (ideally) but it can also be verbal. It should be sent to the Principal of your local school, or to the Special Education Administrator of your school district. Then, they should contact you and set up an appointment for an evaluation.

Who will test your child?

The evaluation may be done in one or more sessions and with one or more professionals, depending on your child’s needs. For example, the school psychologist may do some testing to determine your child’s educational and cognitive (thinking, memory, and reasoning) levels. Then he may or may not recommend that the speech therapist also screen your child in the area of language and speech. If your child is having trouble with fine motor skills, such as holding a pencil or feeding himself, he may also be evaluated by an occupational therapist. If there are gross motor concerns, such as walking, running or even catching a ball, then a physical therapist may be asked to evaluate your child, too. The school district will coordinate all of the screenings and soon you should be called back to hear the results from the professionals.

Will your child qualify for services?

To be eligible to receive services, your child must be found to be a “child with a disability” as defined by IDEA – the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (a federal law). Keep in mind that a “developmental delay” is one of the qualifying conditions, at least up until the age of 5 in most states, and up to age 9 in others. So, it is not always necessary to “label” a child with a specific diagnosis, (especially if the testing is not conclusive) in order for him to qualify for services.

As the law stands today, the 14 qualifying conditions or disability categories are:

• Autism
• Deaf-blindness
• Deafness
• Developmental delay (subject to each state’s specific criteria, and usually only up to age 9 and sometimes younger)
• Emotional disturbance
• Hearing impairment
• Intellectual disability
• Multiple disabilities
• Orthopedic impairment
• Other health impairment
• Specific learning disability
• Speech or language impairment
• Traumatic brain injury
• Visual impairment

For more info on whether your child qualifies for services, contact NICHCY, the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities, at 1-800 695 0285. For detailed descriptions of the 14 categories, please see NICHCY’s summary sheet and visit their webpage.

Once you have reviewed the evaluation results, if you disagree with the outcome of the evaluation, you may choose to take your child for an independent (private) evaluation. You can request that the school district pay for it. Sometimes they do (but not always).

Once your child qualifies, what happens next?

If the testing shows that your child fits the criteria for receiving services, the professional team will meet with you to develop an Individualized Education Program or IEP. This plan will provide the details of the services your child will receive, including “related services” (speech, OT, PT, etc.) and supplementary aids and services (such as specific supports or changes to the curriculum to meet your child’s individual needs).

The IEP will specify details about the services provided. It should include where and when your child will receive services, with whom (such as a therapist, teacher, specialist) and how often (eg. daily, weekly). Most importantly, the IEP’s goals should be clearly defined and measurable. In a later blog post, I will give you a lot more information about IEPs.

For a snapshot of this process, please see NICHCY’S 10 Steps in the Special Education Process. This sheet will help you keep track of where you are in the process.

Bottom line

If your child is struggling in a particular area, or if you just have that nagging feeling that something isn’t right, it is better to seek help earlier rather than later. By having an evaluation done, you will learn a great deal about your child. If he needs assistance, the sooner the help begins, the sooner he can improve.
Have questions? Send them to

Note: This post is part of the new weekly series Delays and disabilities – how to get help for your child. It appears every Wednesday. We welcome your comments and input.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


Accept the Challenge to Be our Best for Babies and commit to raising more than ever

as we celebrate 75 years of stronger, healthier babies.

2013 is the March of Dimes 75 Anniversary!  In celebration of the 75th anniversary we have launched the BE YOUR BEST FOR BABIES! Campaign.  We are asking all walkers to look at your best fundraising year and set your 2013 March for Babies goal to beat that amount.  When you register for 2013 March for Babies, your goal will self-populate to be slightly higher than your best year. You can set your goal to be whatever you would like, but we encourage you to take the challenge and be your best for babies. The next step is to let your friends and family know that you’ve taken the challenge by clicking on the BE YOUR BEST FOR BABIES! box on your personal and team page.   

Friday, February 15, 2013

Nominate a Top Student Leader for the 2013-2014 National Youth Council & Collegiate Council Ambassador Program!

2012-2013 National Youth Council
Do you know a student leader who has shown incredible passion and dedication for the March of Dimes? The March of Dimes is looking for passionate rising or current college students to lead youth volunteers and help all babies have a healthy start! We invite advisors and mentors to nominate a student leader for March of Dimes National Youth Council and Collegiate Council Ambassador roles.
The National Youth Council is comprised of the Foundation’s top college volunteer leaders committed to promoting, supporting, and implementing youth leadership development initiatives.

Collegiate Council Ambassadors are college students (incoming freshmen though seniors) who implement and grow student groups, called Collegiate Councils, dedicated to year-round activities to support the March of Dimes mission in their local community.

New members are provided with orientation, ongoing training and mentoring. Throughout their experience, members will be offered opportunities for professional development and personal growth.
Nominations are due March 1, 2013. For detailed descriptions on these positions and to nominate a student leader, download our nomination form.
For more information, please contact


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Family Team Sponorship

Family Teams are at the heart of the March of Dimes mission and an inspiration to all March for Babies supporters. It is so meaningful that Family Teams chose to honor or remember a special baby in their lives by walking with us in March for Babies and raising money for the March of Dimes. Your contributions will truly change the future.
Family team sponsorship is an opportunity for Family Teams to promote local businesses while also adding to your Family Team total!

Here’s how it works:

1. Contact local businesses and ask if they would consider sponsoring your Family Team at one of the sponsorship levels.

2. Once they agree, they make a tax-deductible donation to the March of Dimes. This donation is credited to your Family Team total!

3. The local business receives advertising the Day-of the event and satisfaction of supporting a great cause.

4. If your team sells 3 Family Teams Sponsorships, the March of Dimes will create a sign honoring your team’s story.

Who can I ask? Anyone!
Your employer, hair salon, favorite restaurant, local construction company, pediatrician, landscaper, local bank, etc. The possibilities are endless!

Visit the Family Team Resource Page of the FT blog for a Family Team Sponsorship Form for your walk site. 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Are you a Cinemama?

Cinemama is an iPhone app that lets you turn daily photos of your belly into a fun movie momento of your pregnancy. You can record memories and milestones in a diary while staying informed with weekly healthy pregnancy tips.

Track your growing belly with pictures organized by day and month in an easy to view calendar mode. The more photos you take the better your movie will be. Customize it with titles and one of our soundtracks for a great effect. You can keep it private or share it with friends and family.

It’s cool, it’s fun, it’s free! Check it out!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Managing your March for Babies Online Fundraising Tool

Online Fundraising Tool (OFT)

Online fundraising Tool (OFT) is the best way for your team to raise money.  Family Teams that have personalized their website raise more money than the teams that use the generic page.  Many teams will put an updated picture of their child, family or the previous year’s team.  Engage your team members and  tell your story and why you are marching in March for Babies.  Make sure that both your personal web page and your team web page are personalized. 
Setting a goal! 

Make sure you set a goal.  2013 is the March of Dimes 75 Anniversary!  In celebration of the 75th anniversary we have launched the BE YOUR BEST FOR BABIES! Campaign.  We are asking all walkers to look at your best fundraising year and set your 2013 March for Babies goal to beat that amount.  When you register for 2013 March for Babies, your goal will self-populate to be slightly higher than your best year. You can set your goal to be whatever you would like, but we encourage you to take the challenge and be your best for babies. The next step is to let your friends and family know that you’ve taken the challenge by clicking on the BE YOUR BEST FOR BABIES! box on your personal and team page.   

If this is your first time walking in March for Babies, then we encourage you to personalize your goal.  For example if you child was in the NICU for 100 days set your goal at $1,000.  $10 for every day they spent in the NICU.  There is not a minimum dollar amount required amount to raise for March for Babies, so make sure you are comfortable with your goal amount.  The average Family Team raises $1000 and the average walker on a team raises $200.  If you recruit five friends and family to walk with your team and ask them each to set a personal fundraising goal of $200, overnight your team will have raised $1,000. It is that easy!

Communication!  Communication!
The best part of your OFT page is the communication tool.  It allows you to store your team contact information, generates emails and sends them out for you!  There are also neat tools such as personalized ecards, Facebook widgets and signature badges.  This is a fun and exciting way to engage your teammates.  Additionally, all the information is stored for next year!!!  The key to a successful team is communication; send out regular updates to all team members on how your team is doing.  Then sit back and watch your team grow!

For more information go to our Quick Guide to Online Fundraising.
Also check out our YouTube videos on Setting up your Online Fundraising page.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Harford County March for Babies Family Team Kick Off

Join us for the 2013 Harford County March for Babies Family Team Kick Off, Wednesday, February 20th at That Bouncy Place in Forest Hill from 6pm to 8pm. The event is an opportunity to learn more about the March of Dimes signature fundraising event, March for Babies and to celebrate our 75th Anniversary. We hope that you can attend to meet other team captains, hear motivating stories and learn more about the mission of the March of Dimes and our impact in the community. Team captains will have the opportunity to pick up any fundraising materials they will need for their campaign.
RSVP by February 13, 2013 to Heather Lynch

Monday, February 4, 2013

Our little Georgia Peach

I have angels disguised as friends that have encouraged me to tell my story and get involved with March of Dimes. Not only will this be therapeutic for me, but more importantly, I will have the opportunity to help others.  This is one of the greatest gifts of all.
In August of 2010, my husband and I decided to go on a “Babymoon” to Savannah, Georgia. I had always heard of how beautiful it was there, and the fact that it was a short plane ride away from Virginia sold me.

Before we left, I had an appointment with my OB/GYN.  I asked her for a green light to fly on a plane, given I was 32 weeks pregnant.  She said everything seemed normal, so we were on our way to a relaxing vacation. 
I had a prenatal massage the second day we were in Georgia and later worked out on the elliptical machine at the hotel.  That evening, I realized I hadn’t felt my baby kick or move in the last few hours.  I told my husband that if I still hadn’t felt anything by morning, we should go to a clinic to make sure everything was okay. At 7 a.m. the next morning, I woke up after a worrisome night and still hadn’t felt our baby move.  My husband was on his laptop soon after and found a hospital close by. 

On our way to the hospital, I called my sister in Texas and told her not to worry, but that we were going to the hospital just to make sure that the baby was fine.  I told her NOT to call my parents or other siblings.  I knew it would only worry them for no reason.
When we arrived at the hospital, we were admitted soon after.  The nurse gave me some apple juice to sip on in an effort to raise the baby’s heart rate.  According to the nurse, the baby’s heart rate was not fluctuating.  It was stagnant at 140.  They put this apparatus on me that zapped my belly to try to “wake the baby.”  The heart rate was still the same. 

The next thing I remember the hospital’s resident was telling me, “We need to deliver now.”  I asked, “Deliver what?”  I hadn’t a CLUE!  He said, “the baby.”
I was quickly rushed into the surgery room for an emergency C-section.  In the meantime, my husband was calling our extended family to let them know our baby was coming.  I was sitting there being prepped for surgery, shivering with fear. I had NEVER trembled like that before but it felt like I was sitting on an iceberg in the middle of nowhere…helpless.  I looked up at the anesthesiologist right before surgery and I said, “Please save my baby!” I told him I was scared and the next thing I knew, I woke up, looked down and saw my flat stomach.  It took a while for things to sink in.

At 32 weeks and 4 days, our beautiful daughter was born. Francesca Margo Flewelling.  Many emotions were rushing through including excitement, anxiety, fear, sadness, happiness…the list goes on! All we could do was just ride the wave! We had no other child to compare our newborn experience to, so living in a hotel and visiting our baby girl in the NICU for 3 ½ weeks was “normal” to us. 
Soon after the delivery, I was greeted by a March of Dimes representative. She gave us a bag of goodies and told us that if we needed anything, we could lean on them. After a few days, I went to a March of Dimes workshop in the hospital where we made necklaces with symbolic charms. Not only did this take my mind of things, it was nice to be surrounded by others who were experiencing an early childbirth.  I actually met a very dear friend in the workshop who I keep in contact with.

My husband and I had to drive 12 hours back to Virginia with a newborn.  I was a nervous wreck! Despite being sent home with an apnea monitor and our daughter having reflux, everything was fine. After all, we brought back the best souvenir possible. It wasn’t until our daughter was 5 months old until we realized she wasn’t grabbing things with her right hand. I researched this and realized an early hand preference is not normal. Long story short, (AS IF this story isn’t long!) she has been diagnosed with right sided hemiplegia.  This falls under the Cerebral Palsy umbrella.  The CP words were scary at first, but I realize they were scary because of my ignorance and stigma that I had on those words…Cerebral Palsy.  I’m embarrassed to say this, but when I was young, I thought Cerebral Palsy was a disease! 
The neurologist and physiatrist tried to appease me by telling me that Cerebral Palsy is an umbrella term and has a large spectrum.  Our daughter is on the mild side.  I can’t help but turn my head and think of my friends who have children with Cerebral Palsy on the opposite side of the spectrum. Why them?  Why us?

We have been down a winding road since the diagnosis.  Francesca, our daughter, has been in PT since she was 6 months old and OT & Speech since she was one year old. She is now 2 ½ and close to walking!  
Until now, I have wanted to remain private with my daughter’s diagnosis. Not only do I not like labels, but I don’t want people to pity us or feel sorry for our situation. Our daughter is a gift and she is perfect in our eyes.

I am proud to be a team leader in the March of Dimes walk this summer in Virginia.  Our little Georgia Peach and our experience with March of Dimes have inspired me to do so.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Moms Day Out!

Come to MaGerk’s Pub and Grill in Bel Air on March 9th from 2pm-4pm to have some fun with local moms and help benefit the March of Dimes. Ticket cost is $30 and includes appetizers, domestic drafts and house wines. Vendors on site: thirty-one, Scentsy, Tastefully Simple, Arbonne, and The Pampered Chef. We will be raffling off exciting gifts and “mom” themed baskets. Hosted by March for Babies team Sanzone Twins.

Christine Sanzone- or 410-812-3747