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Community Foundation of Sarasota County Grant Awards Grant to Fund Communication Services and Tools for Non-Verbal Children

Easterseals Southwest Florida has been awarded a $30,000 Equity & Access Grant to fund communication tools and services for non-verbal children with disabilities from the Mildred Schwartz Lentini Fund of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County.

This Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) program will serve children with autism and other severe communication disorders. Tools used in conjunction with sessions led by Easterseals speech therapists will include Language Acquisition through Motor Planning (LAMP) as well as Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS). Both systems use visual icons to teach communication, allowing a user to independently and spontaneously express themselves.

“Our agency always strives to help our clients live life as independently as possible,” Easterseals Southwest Florida President and CEO Tom Waters said. “The LAMP and PECS methods allow individuals who otherwise cannot communicate to do exactly that, through the use of icons that represent basic needs and wants.

“I’ve seen these tools work in the homes of our clients and have watched worlds open up to families that had previously been shut off to them. It’s life changing. We are so grateful for the funding to expand this therapy.”

To ensure the devices are used to properly and fully address the communication needs of the client, families and caregivers are encouraged to take training with Easterseals speech therapists. Even teachers can be engaged in sessions to help ensure the child reaches his or her fullest potential. Dollars from this grant will fund this training.

The grant will assist up to 30 clients and their families.

About Easterseals Happiness House: Easterseals Happiness House provides exceptional therapies and services for individuals with disabilities and their families by empowering them to live their lives to the fullest. Celebrating its 75th year of operation, the agency began serving the Southwest Florida region in 1946.

About the Community Foundation of Sarasota County: The Community Foundation of Sarasota County is a public charity founded in 1979 by the Southwest Florida Estate Planning Council as a resource for caring individuals and the causes they support, enabling them to make a charitable impact on the community. With assets of $421 million in more than 1,500 charitable funds, the Community Foundation awarded grants and scholarships totaling $48.9 million dollars last year in the areas of education, the arts, health and human services, civic engagement, animal welfare and the environment. Since its founding, the Community Foundation has been able to grant more than $323 million to area nonprofit organizations to our community thanks to the generosity of charitable individuals, families, and businesses. For more information, visit or call (941) 955-3000.