Advocacy, awareness and action

By Samantha Kolkey

Despite us being one day late, I want to recognize the importance of the United Nations’ International Day of Persons with Disabilities.  Below is a message from the Secretary General of the United Nations, where he also identifies the theme for this year:

Secretary-General’s Message for 2017

“Transformation towards sustainable and resilient society for all”

Resilience is central to achieving sustainable development. In its pledge to leave no one behind, the 2030 Agenda embodies a commitment to building the capacities of those who face marginalization and exclusion, in order to reduce their vulnerability to economic, social and environmental shocks.

In recent years, the international community has achieved notable progress in advancing the rights of the world’s one billion persons with disabilities. Disability is recognized as a cross-cutting issue in the 2030 Agenda, the New Urban Agenda and the Sendai Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction.

Yet, persons with disabilities remain too often excluded from the design, planning and implementation of policies and programmes that have an impact on their lives. Too often they face discrimination in labour markets and in access to education and other services.

To overcome this challenge, the path towards inclusive, accessible, usable facilities, technologies, infrastructure, services and products must be ensured by, for and with persons with disabilities. We must build on their agency, working together to design, develop and implement affordable and innovative solutions to realize equality for all.

On the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, let us remove physical and cultural barriers, build resilient societies and create opportunities that truly leave no one behind.

António Guterres

Ensuring appropriate funding, technologies, medications, therapies, education, accessible spaces, and inclusive vocational and living opportunities are imperative issues at hand.

I will shamelessly promote my organization, Options for College Success, as we are a small part of the U.N’s agenda and 2017 theme. We provide an array of services to all individuals with learning challenges and disabilities for them to develop the confidence, courage, and skills to live independently, to live their best lives! We develop unique and personalized ways to support the individual in achieving their goals and following their passions. We advocate strongly for our clientele and those who are not part of our Options family.

In celebration of the day (even though it was yesterday), we encourage everyone to advocate for improved special education services in schools, for improved post-secondary options for those with disabilities (please see H.R. 3199), to think about ways to be inclusive and recognize where we are failing to do this, donate or volunteer for organizations that dedicate themselves to ensure that those with disabilities are not neglected in any way and are helping individuals become as self-sustaining as possible, and resilient members of our society.

Please check out the U.N.’s website on this day.  They lay out their plans and committees, the work they are doing internationally for this cause, and for more information:




#AutismSpeaks Transition Toolkit

By Marcella Mackowiak

Autism Speaks logo is a very resourceful organization. Typically, I would not use another organization’s logo in my blog, but I think that it is warranted to give credit where credit is due. See, we’re all in this fight together, the fight of building awareness for those who live with ASD and the loved ones who are affected by it. We all promote the love, success, and equality for those living with ASD, so I am happy to post a blog giving #AustimSpeaks credit for being very resourceful.

This particular article contains a free, downloadable toolkit that was assembled by #AutismSpeaks that is meant to “assist families on the journey from adolescence to adulthood.” This toolkit reminds me of the steps that we take to prepare our students for  life after high school. It is organizations like #AutismSpeaks and #OptionsForCollegeSuccess who are making the difference for those out there living with ASD, and we are certainly proud to do it!

Checkout the link for the toolkit below…


Gratitude is a word we often think of during this time of year. Practicing gratitude throughout our daily lives can improve well-being and increase empathy and energy.  Recognizing what you are grateful for daily can increase one’s ability to take a positive spin on a difficult day, or a negative emotion.

As we head into Thanksgiving, the directors at Options for College Success want to recognize all that we are grateful for:

We are so grateful for all our incredible tutors.  Every one of them is deeply invested in the students’ growth and success.

We appreciate all the time our Chef, Tom Anderson, has given to our organization for individual cooking lessons with our students. We look forward to continued deliciousness!

Dave R., we are so grateful to you! The dedication and compassion you provide every day is inspiring!

We are forever grateful to our students and their families. We have developed our own family unit here at Options thanks to all of our past and present students and their families.

We give thanks to our contracted therapist, Ashley Allis! Thank you for supporting our students on their journey to independence.

Thank you to everyone who donated to our organization! We could not have opened our new center without raising funds. AND, thank you to everyone who donates to ANY organization that strives to provide support, services, resources, care, and love!

Be safe. Be kind. Eat well.

Happy Thanksgiving,

Christine Anderson, Shoshana Axler, Marcella Mackowiak, and Samantha Kolkey

“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.” Eckhart Tolle

Demand Better

By Samantha Kolkey

At Options for College Success, one of our goals is to raise awareness and advocate for the needs of the population we work with. Cancer can impact anyone, at anytime, anywhere.  So, today we advocate for the population we work with (and the entire world population)  by raising awareness about this lethal cancer. Our organization encourages you to represent this day and to spread the word by wearing purple, donating to cancer research funds or PanCan, educating yourself about pancreatic cancer, and/or doing what feels right to you to recognize @worldpancreaticcancerday.

#Demandbetter #Wagehope #WPCD

The World of Anxiety

By Marcella Mackowiak

Image result for pictures of anxiety

A lot of our students who come in talk about having anxiety very often. I personally sometimes feel like I’m going to drown in worry, say if a big school project is due or work stuff is overwhelming (because, really, it does happen). But I think that everyone experiences anxiety in different situations. What is the same is the typical definition and what could possibly be going through someone’s mind.

Is that person weak? A coward? Suffering from low self esteem? Image result for pictures of anxiety

Or is it simply that they don’t have the skills to cope with things that others find easy? Today, one of my students told me about the unhealthy way that [they] deal with their anxiety, and while we at Options all understand what that means, not everyone does.

Kirsten Corley wrote a great article for the website Thought Catalog which gives a great description of what anxiety is. I appreciated reading this. It helps all of us to understand why that person with anxiety isn’t weak or a coward. Enjoy…

What Anxiety Actually Is, Because It’s More Than ‘Just Worrying’

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How to Help Students with Learning Challenges Build Healthy Self-Esteem

By the Options for College Success staff


We are proud to support our Director of Programs in the publishing of her first guest blog entry for Beyond Book Smart.  Please click on the link below:



Happy National Caregivers Month!!!!

Image result for pictures of caregivers

By Marcella Mackowiak

Personally, I did not know that this was something that even existed. Caregivers are some of the most brave, compassionate, empathetic, and wondrous people out there. They certainly don’t get enough credit, so I am very happy to know that they get a full month to be appreciated.

Lisa Smith wrote an article for Autism Speaks about her experience as a caregiver for her autistic son, special needs daughter, and elderly parents. It was such a touching article that I couldn’t wait for my week to blog just so that I can post this.