Anything But Ordinary At Kids OT To Play
In honor of National Autism Month, Kids OT To Play is offering two summer scholarships to support families struggling with children diagnosed with autism, or are on the autism spectrum.
Danvers native Lena Winston, director and founder of Kids OT To Play pediatric therapy clinic in Danvers, is more ready than ever to share her philosophy for pediatric occupational therapy with the community at large.
Winston’s philosophy is simple: When children experience therapy as play, then their play becomes therapeutic. Winston, who is a mother of three daughters currently residing in Hamilton, began her career in occupational therapy with a degree from Dominican College and started her work with people of all ages. She was particularly intrigued with children and began to ascribe to the theory that early intervention, especially with regard to children diagnosed with autism or on the autism spectrum, is key.
No stranger to business ownership, the Danvers local credits her family for providing her with an entrepreneurial spirit. “My maiden name was Cabuzzi, and when I was 11 years old, my family owned Family Variety on Purchase Street; then when I was 18 they had the Premiere Deli on Water Street,” she said. (Although now retired, her father is also the namesake for Rocco's Pizza, which he started with his two brothers before branching out on his own back in the 1980s.)
Reflecting on her parents' influence, Winston admits, “Although I didn’t opt for the food industry, my family taught me to create a business based on what I want in the world. Having that background was pretty cool for me, I have backing from my family and a good business sense.”
By combining her passion for pediatric occupational therapy and early intervention with her business background, she developed her own program, and Kids OT To Play was born. Specializing in Occupational, Speech, and ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) Therapies, and Social Skills Programs, Kids OT To Play was devised to benefit both these youngsters and their families. “I want families to know there are avenues, there is support available for them. It’s going to be ok, it's not a sentence for life- we’ll get through it together,” she said.
Now in its fifth year, with 15 employees and a new 3500 sq. ft facility located on Garden Street, Kids OT To Play is offering two full scholarships for summer programs to offer support to families who need it.
In honor of National Autism Month, the contest will run through the month of April, ending on May 7. Winning families will receive a month of free services, attending twice a week for four weeks.
Winston said “the scholarships are for one morning program, and an afternoon program, and is open to all. I want to get the word out beyond our hundred or so families who attend our programs, so other people in the world know.”
Winston’s main goal, as she stated, is to play an impact on the community, “...for that family whose child just got diagnosed, and will feel that relief and get that support-that’s my desire, for others in the community to benefit from the program.”
She described the programs at Kids OT To Play as anything but ordinary, stating, “our way is unique, not cookbook. We have a lot of prompts, signing, swings and playing during the kids sessions because that helps with language development."
Winston said she usually sees children by the age of three when they have shown speech delays, but it is not uncommon to see youngsters in the 18-24 month range, and typically sees an impact from the programs within 3 months.
“I didn’t want to live within the confines of the medical and school model-there are services that don’t necessarily fit the model, but are meaningful to people. Most parents tell us what makes us unique is the time spent developing the personal relationships with them. We are a place for them to share their struggles. We want to know what challenges are affecting the whole family, and develop a plan to support them all in it in a meaningful way. It makes more of a difference in the long run.”
Kids OT to Play, LLC
27 Garden St. Danvers MA