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|Mystic Aquarium Hosts Synergy Center Programs for Students with Disabilities and Social Challenges|
MYSTIC, Conn. – For children and teenagers with disabilities or challenges such as anger management or bullying, the Waterford-based Synergy Center Corporation offers unique new options: the Synergy Socials Program and Social Species from the Sea to Me, two social skill-building classes at Mystic Aquarium, a division of Sea Research Foundation, Inc.
The Synergy Socials Program is open to children ages 5 to 9 with disabilities such as Autism, Attention Deficit Disorder, Rett Syndrome and Intellectual Disabilities, or who may simply have difficulty getting along with other children. Social Species from the Sea to Me is designed for high-functioning disabled students and non-disabled youth ages 14 to 18 who struggle with the social skills necessary to successfully navigate high school and beyond.
“Mystic Aquarium provides a fun, naturally relaxing, non-school environment, where students are exposed to a variety of social settings,” said Brian Armstrong, president of Synergy Center Corporation. “This environment, along with collaborative aquarium activities, helps participants learn skills and strategies for coping in their daily lives while having fun and socializing.” “Sea Research Foundation is dedicated to providing educational opportunities that engage people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds,” said Dr. Stephen M. Coan, president and CEO of Sea Research. “These unique programs build critical skills and prepare students for the future while introducing them to marine life, ultimately creating a more positive association with the world around them.”
Synergy Socials Program
The hour-long Synergy Socials classes meet twice a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4 to 5 p.m., for six weeks. Each class begins with yoga or another hands-on sensory experience, such as a touch-and-learn session with some of the aquarium’s invertebrates, which helps the students focus and release anxiety. These activities are all designed to help build social skills, such as proper greetings, turn taking, following directions and appropriate play interactions. The class ends with time for students to share what they learned with their parents and practice skills with classmates.
Children in the program, which began in October 2009, have shown significant growth. “After taking these classes, students make smoother transitions from home to class, and they are more engaging with classmates, develop quality friendships and demonstrate better interpersonal skills,” said Armstrong.
The next 12-class Synergy Socials session begins March 23 and costs $480.
Social Species from the Sea to Me
In this new program, teens meet twice a week, on Mondays and Wednesdays from 4 to 5 p.m., for six weeks. Students will encounter the variety of species with varying social behaviors at the aquarium, hear about typical job requirements for high school graduates and learn about the importance of social skills to job market success. Participants will meet aquarium managers and retail, catering, education, security and maintenance staff while practicing the skills necessary to gain a job in their fields of interest. The program also covers transition planning from high school to a job, interviewing, hygiene, self-promoting skills and completing applications. The first session of Social Species from the Sea to Me begins on March 17 and costs $480.
About Sea Research Foundation, Inc.
Mystic Aquarium, Institute for Exploration and Immersion Learning are divisions of Sea Research Foundation, Inc., a private, non-profit 501(c)3 organization. The mission of Sea Research is to inspire people to care for and protect our ocean planet through education, research and exploration. Mystic Aquarium’s educational programming strives to be inclusive, providing children, adults and families with an array of animal, ocean exploration and conservation learning opportunities.
About Synergy Center Corporation
The mission of Synergy Center Corporation is to help individuals with disabilities and weakened health conditions make quality connections with themselves, their community, and their world. Synergy Center’s programs expose children to a variety of lessons, strategies, and environments to increase their enjoyment of everyday play opportunities, while learning how to appropriately express themselves and read social cues in a fun, relaxing, interesting, and supportive environment.
This press release was published on March 4, 2010.
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