Testimonials

Testimonials from Educators:

 

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Thank you for your leadership and for your collective support in bringing Connect Us to Belleview.  The Connect Us staff facilitated a professional training with our parents, developing their leadership skills for use of supporting students on the playground.  The goal for our school was to promote inclusiveness on our playground for all students; inclusive of special needs, cultures, interest, etc.  Our school is a better place because of this program as we have seen an increase of playground social success- the adult’s help students know the game rules and help resolve situations quickly.  In addition, parents have introduced fun games that are representative of the cultures of our school.  Connect Us has been a wonderful addition to our school in our commitment to wellness.

Amanda Waleski
Principal, Belleview Elementary School

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I am pleased to write this letter in support of the Connect Us Program. Connect Us is a non-profit, 501 (c)(3) organization that rented space at Cottonwood Creek Elementary School and provided an after-school program for students during the 2009-2010 school year. Like our other after-school programs, parents could register their children for Connect Us for a nominal fee.

After-school activities at Cottonwood Creek include everything from Foreign Language to Fitness Clubs, but Connect Us filled a void by working with children to break down the social barriers and build up the social astuteness of our youngsters. The Connect Us staff is highly skilled at helping children cultivate relationships with their peers. They offer a proactive approach to promoting social intelligence by working with children in “real-time” situations using child-directed, physical play to increase resiliency, flexibility, self-confidence and negotiation skills.

Connect Us has been dedicated in collaborating with our school to create and support a safe, inclusive, and nurturing environment for children. We have seen positive changes in behavior due to the presence of Connect Us staff on the playground during the school day. Many students require additional support on the classroom, and it is no different on the playground. Connect Us has spearheaded our volunteer recess program, “Peaceful Playgrounds.” … in conjunction with our Health and Wellness teacher, [it] has recruited and trained dozens of parent volunteers to facilitate collaborative games and activities during recess time for our students.

In conclusion, Connect Us has been a wonderful addition to after-school opportunities for students at Cottonwood Creek. The organization is extremely organized and easy to work with …. At Cottonwood Creek, we strive to meet ALL of the needs of over 600 students. Connect Us has worked collaboratively with our school staff to do just that! Please contact me with formal questions or inquiries.”

Dr. Mary Shay
Principal, Cottonwood Creek Elementary School

We are fortunate in having had the opportunity to collaborate with the Connect Us program here at High Plains Elementary School. Last year we were interested in implementing a playground program which would promote inclusiveness among our students while developing cooperative play skills. The Connect Us staff went out of their way to help us establish our “High 5 Playground Program” and make sure that it was successfully up and running. They were actively engaged in every aspect of the implementation process from leading meetings for our parent volunteers to providing on-site training and coaching. As a result, the playground program is active in the first through third grades and we are looking to expand it to the fourth and fifth grades this year. We have a dedicated group of parent volunteers and more children are actively engaged during recess activities. We appreciate all of the effort Connect Us put into helping us make sure that our program was successful.

Dr. Lisa S. Wolff, Psy D,
School psychologist, High Plains Elementary School

“As a third-grade teacher, I am writing in support of the recess facilitation program offered at Cottonwood Creek Elementary School. The program was implemented by Stephanie Schiff, a parent at our school and Executive Director of Connect Us. In the three years that the program has been in operation at our school, I have noticed a decrease in aggression and emotional issues being carried in from the playground by my students. Because of the parent involvement at recess, my students have usually taken care of problems and issues from lunch and recess before they come in to the classroom. We have been able to immediately begin instruction. This has truly helped allow me to continue with academics without taking away from valuable instruction and learning time. I believe the program has helped build a more cooperative and supportive community at Cottonwood Creek. I would highly recommend implementing a recess facilitation program at the elementary school level. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.”

Mr. Darren Gaines
Teacher, Cottonwood Creek Elementary School


“I am a second-grade teacher at Cottonwood Creek Elementary School in the Cherry Creek School District. Our school has been fortunate to have one of our parents, Stephanie Schiff, the Executive Director of Connect Us, implement a recess facilitation program for our students a few years ago. … as a volunteer coordinator, Mrs. Schiff assembled a team of parent volunteers to facilitate purposeful games at recess.

Recess volunteers have had a tremendous impact on the climate of our school. Adult-facilitated games have provided a safe place to go and physical play opportunities for students who aren’t comfortable playing sports, struggle with social skills or who simply have a difficult time navigating the playground during recess. In addition, parent volunteers are trained to help children quickly resolve conflicts, find friends who are alone and offer guidance to those students who tend to dominate group activities. The outcome has been a reduction in bullying, fewer disputes carrying over into the classroom after recess, less tattling and a faster transition to instruction time.

As both a teacher and a parent of elementary-age children, I highly recommend a recess facilitation program to any school considering it. We don’t think twice about offering academic support to children who need it in the classroom and it shouldn’t be any different on the playground.”

Mrs. Natalie Morris
Teacher, Cottonwood Creek Elementary School


“I have seen great success with the Connect Us program in our school. Connect Us reaches out to students who need support socially and behaviorally. This program encourages children to make connections with their peers and adults in a small-group setting. Julian was a second-language learner in my classroom last year and felt very self-conscious when speaking in front of the class. He is a very intelligent boy but did not feel confident in a classroom setting. The Connect Us program gave him the opportunity to open up in a small group and socialize with his peers. I noticed him making friends in the classroom and communicating with me freely and comfortably while participating in the program. I would love to see this program continue in our school to support children socially and behaviorally.”

Ms. Katie Fox
First-Grade Teacher, High Plains Elementary School

Testimonials from Families:

Connect Us has been an immensely positive program for my 4-year-old twin boys who attended their camp over the summer. For one of my boys, who has anxiety issues and a tendency to dominate situations, this program taught him to have patience with other kids, negotiate instead of bossing them around, and to just be a more positive kid. It has also been a great experience for my other son, teaching him to accept all personalities, and learn how to play with and be kind to everyone. Stephanie and Annette lead a group of highly qualified therapists and facilitators that made my kids feel like rock stars. My boys couldn’t wait to go to camp each day and their self-esteem and self-confidence sky-rocketed. Now I’m not anxious when my boys are playing with groups of kids!

Laura P.

My son, Justin, had social, communication and behavioral issues. Now, he can play with other children and enjoys this time. I feel the way Connect Us interacts with the children helps them really understand relationships. All the topics are great and much needed; they have to do with the everyday life of a child. Justin enjoyed and excelled in this program, and we saw significant improvements in communication, emotional reaction, happiness and self-confidence. It is a deep joy to witness the social life that Connect Us fosters. It’s a place where kids can enjoy being themselves and being with others. It has only been eight weeks and my son has improved so much. I always wanted a group like this and never could find one. I cannot recommend Connect Us highly enough.

Laura Schmidt

A big thank-you to you all for providing my guys with a safe, fun place to go this summer. The biggest thing for us was that both our guys could attend – not only my Asperger’s kid, but little brother too. This helps unite them and makes our oldest feel “typical.” They both seemed to have a better social awareness of the children around them – something lacking the older one because of his Asperger’s and in the younger one because of his age. The staff was always very attentive, and approachable. I appreciated that I could give them specific information about my boys and they considered it. We were more than pleased with the Connect Us camp in 2010. We would (and DID) recommend them to everyone we met.

Kim Lunsford

This summer we are delighted to have both our children, ages 8 and 6, enrolled at Connect Us. We are so fortunate to have finally found a place that offers our children encouragement, acceptance, kindness, team work, patience, confidence, respect, self-esteem, strength, and friendship. This is exactly what we needed for our kids.

All the counselors at camp are exceptional! Their enthusiasm and energy creates such a positive and uplifting effect on our children. Their continuous feedback and updates on the children’s overall progress are invaluable.

Within a few short weeks, we have seen both our kids’ confidence grow. We see them trying to work together and being a little more patient toward each other. Our son, who has always made excuses to avoid doing things, is now not only willing, but wanting to go out and try new things.

Thank you for being exactly what we needed. This truly has been a great summer for us and our kids!

Karn and Rose Bhalla

We are so incredibly grateful to have found this unique camp. What an amazing experience for our family. This has really been the first school/camp where Andrew (almost 5 years old) has not only been accepted for who he is, but encouraged to thrive as himself! And how he has blossomed in this setting!

As parents, this is really the first time we have felt at peace leaving Andrew someplace. It is the sense that your child is not only safe and loved, but he is truly happy. As a pediatrician, I can attest to the importance of this truly unique camp. There is such an important need for a community to foster the self-esteem of children, {who may get “lost” and struggle in a typical large group setting} in a learning and fun environment, allowing for many future success stories.

Once again, we cannot be any more thankful for the Connect Us camp experience, and we marvel at the growth Andrew has made as a person!

Sharon Sagel, MD, and Scott Sagel, MD

My son loves Connect Us. The instructors gently encourage him to engage with his peers and work through challenging situations. Since joining the group, he is learning to be more flexible in his thinking. We are so happy with the program!

Robin Lanzer

Since our son, Gregory (second grader) has been a part of Connect Us groups, his confidence and self-esteem have exploded! He has changed from being a quiet observer, reluctantly joining in activities, to an active leader among his peers.

Watching his rapid growth, we decided to put our 4-year old-twins in the preschool program. It has been amazing to see them step outside of the “twin comfort zone” and start playing with other kids! We are happy that Connect Us is doing afterschool groups so that all of our children can continue growing and gaining confidence from this positive, uplifting program!

Observing first-hand the caring and support from the entire staff, I wanted to help Connect Us personally. I have become an administrative volunteer for the Connect Us family in tribute to the amazing patience, understanding and love that the staff showers upon ‘their kids’ every single day. I am in constant awe of the magic they perform each day! I have tried, but words cannot truly convey our appreciation and heartfelt gratitude for what you have done for Gregory and our girls.

Arthur Liu, MD and Namie Liu

Connect Us camp was a very positive experience for both of my daughters and that made it great for me. The staff recognized the kids as individuals. My girls were respected for exactly who they are, how they are. Each child is unique and the counselors at Connect Us take the time to learn what each camper is about. Their gifts are nurtured and guidance is provided to assist the kids in becoming more balanced where applicable. Stephanie Schiff applies 100% integrity and consciousness in her role running the camp and is a huge asset to our community. We are fortunate to have Stephanie and hope she continues on in her work.

Marisa Harris

Kelly, age 6, has many friends but allows them to dominate. I wanted to make sure she didn’t become a doormat. Connect Us empowers kids to express their feelings, confront unfair play and stick up for others. Kelly is still laid-back but has begun to say to her friends: ‘no, this time I get to pick!’ This is one less thing for mom to worry about!”

Laurie R.

Our 7-year-old daughter was extremely shy and sensitive… her experience at camp allowed her to work on friendship skills and provided a safe place where she could be herself and encouraged her to take some risks. Several of her fears have vanished. She never used to raise her hand at school even though she had the answers and almost never asked for playdates. Both of these things have changed! With the help of Connect Us, our daughter has found her voice!

Al and Lisa Ovando

At the beginning of the school year both our boys, ages 6 and 8, were struggling socially. It was heartbreaking to see this and not know how to fix the problem. We were so lucky to find Connect Us. [Our boys] gained confidence and learned strategies that have empowered them with the tools they need to blossom. Nothing can compare to the joy I feel when I see my kids surrounded by buddies, actively participating on the playground. Their teachers have been so impressed with their growth that they have asked how we can share this program with the rest of the school.

Sandra and Eyal Yaron

The Connect Us program did such an amazing job of helping both of my kids make friends, gain confidence, learn new skills and have fun! My son is on the autism spectrum and my daughter is gifted so it is usually a big challenge finding activities that they can both participate in. This camp was the perfect fit for our family and I was so impressed with all of the staff members who worked with my kids. They were incredibly caring and made an effort to challenge my kids while making learning fun. I would highly recommend Connect Us to other families and am so grateful for the foundation that Connect Us laid in helping my kids get ready to go back to school.

Susan Shuyler
Teacher and mother of 5-year-old twins

For the first time EVER, Brooklyn looks forward to going to camp EVERY DAY, and talks about it all weekend long! Connect Us’ program is unlike any camp my kids have been to. Both girls are accepted, happy and thriving socially in this setting.

Shar Gardenhire

After attending Spring Social Group, Summer Camp and another session of Social Group this fall, my son had one of his best reports from school conferences yet.  His teachers and the Mental Health staff reported he’s made a lot of progress socially and he’s shown an improvement in expressing his emotions with others.  While we are constantly seeking diverse ways to help support our son, nothing additional was in place for him this fall beside the social group, so we can contribute his school success directly to the skills he is learning at Connect Us!  I wish we would have started sooner!

Jennifer T.
Parent of CCSD 5th grader