Ortonville senior Katrina Hibbs is one of 15 Central Michigan University students who teaches Micah Nickel, 6, fundamental social skills to help treat his autism. For Hibbs, it started out as a volunteer job through the School of Education at Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant, Mich. Although, her time spent with Micah has grown to taught her what she wants to do after graduation. In 2009, Micah’s parents, Jennifer and Chris Nickel, contacted Connections that Count, the special education active service learning program offered by CMU that brings student volunteers into local homes. The Nickel family taught students to use the Autism Treatment Center’s Son-Rise Program to develop Micah’s four social essentials: Eye contact, communication, interactive attention span and flexibility. For two hours a day, five days a week, Micah learns various social skills without realizing it through activities in which students play with him that slowly bring him out of his “world.” In the beginning, Micah’s social skills ranked between a two and three out of five, and now they rank between a four and a five out of five. “It’s amazing the progress he’s made in two years,” Hibbs said. “He’s gone from being a shy boy who wouldn’t talk or touch you, to outgoing and social.” Micah is not the only child benefitting from the program. Connections that Count reaches out to children with disabilities and their families in Mount Pleasant, recommended by teachers in public schools and the health department. And although the program is associated with CMU’s special education program, all committed CMU students can volunteer, no matter what they are studying.
Category Archives: Photo Stories
A demonstration was held on May 16, 2011 opposing those of the ultra-Orthodox/Hasidic community who are supporting an accused child molester by the name of Nechemya Weberman, 53, also a well-known and respected counselor at neighborhood Satmar yeshivas. Protestors met outside of the Continental Catering Dining Hall in Williamsburg where a fundraiser for Weberman was being held to raise money towards his defense fund. Police arrested Weberman in February 2011 after the 16 year-old girl reported that her therapist had forced her during counseling sessions to perform oral sex acts starting when she was just 12 years-old. Both ex-Hasidic and secular supporters protested the efforts by Brooklyn’s ultra-Orthodox and Hasidic leaders to cover up sex abuse in their communities. About 100 protestors showed up at the event which was attended by more than 1,000 ultra-Orthodox/Hasidic men. Many who participated in the protest held signs reading “protect victims not abusers,” and traded harsh words with supporters of Weberman’s cause. Only two people were arrested, both charged with disorderly conduct while the rest of the protest remained entirely non-violent.
The University of Michigan MBA program as part of their class orientation includes a day of public service in Detroit with the help of Motor City Blight Busters, a non-profit dedicated to the stabilization and revitalization of Detroit neighborhoods on Sept. 1, 2011. The Ross School of Business stresses an action-based business education to their students allowing them to be more attentive to the needs of its major city of Detroit. This year the school teamed up with John George, owner of Motor City Blight Busters, who founded the organization over two decades ago when he decided to take matters into his own hands by boarding up an abandoned house in his neighborhood that crack dealers would take over each night. Since 1988, the non-profit has been a positive catalyst in Detroit to neighborhoods, families, as well as volunteers by tearing down abandoned homes and building new ones, cleaning up dump sites and painting existing houses.