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The mission at Uplift Education is for every child to have access to a high-quality, FREE, public education. During National School Choice Week (January 24 - January 30, 2021), they invite families across the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex to evaluate their child’s current school and assess whether it is the best choice for meeting their personal needs.  

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First introduced in 2011, National School Choice Week is a nonpartisan, nonpolitical way of encouraging families to choose the K-12 educational options that best suit their children. 

What is a charter school?

Uplift Education is one of those choices in North Texas. Uplift Education is a free, high-performing, public charter school creating positive impact for 21,000 students in our community.  Charter schools are independently operated public schools that have the freedom to design classrooms that meet their students’ needs. All charter schools operate under a contract with a charter school authorizer – usually a nonprofit organization, government agency, or university – that holds them accountable to the high standards outlined in their “charter.” It is common to see charter schools led by former teachers who wanted to take the lessons they learned in the classroom and apply those lessons to an entire school.

In 1996, a small group of people decided to start Uplift Education. Led by Rosemary Perlmeter, these visionaries were granted one of the first authorizations to open a charter school in Texas. Their goal was to establish a school of character, excellence, and innovation with the belief that all children should have access to a high quality free public PreK-12 school. Uplift Education has grown to be the largest public charter district in North Texas. At Uplift, they are committed to guide their scholars toward 100% college acceptance. The unwavering support is why Uplift grads earn college degrees at 4X the national average for like peers.

From Uplift Education:

Uplift’s vision is that Dallas-Fort Worth can be a region where all students across different races and income levels attend public school together and receive a transformative public education where their talents are honored. We want our educational environment to be one that sets students up to be successful in life and maximizes their potential. Dallas-Fort Worth can be a region where the American Dream is alive and well and exists for every child, regardless of zip code.

Uplift is preparing our graduates for college success better than any of our peers. Despite having their senior year cut short due to COVID-19, the Uplift Class of 2020 racked up some impressive accolades. 100% of scholars earned college acceptance and received $120 million in scholarships and grants. 88% of scholars matriculated into college and 78% of those were first generation college attendees. Plus, our graduates earn college degrees at a rate of more than 4x times the national average. 

By choosing Uplift Education, you are becoming a part of a nonprofit network of 46 tuition-free, public charter schools in North Texas educating about 21,000 students. We regularly receive national recognition for our accomplishments, and the state of Texas has rated us higher than most of our peers in the DFW area. 100% of Uplift’s eligible high schools were named among the Best High Schools in the nation by the U.S. News & World Report for 2020. All of our schools were within the top 12% with 3 high schools named in the top 300 schools in the nation by Jay Mathews Challenge Index.  

Enrollment for new and existing families is underway. Visit www.uplifteducation.org/apply to make a difference today in your child’s future.  

 

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Uplift is proudly hosting its first annual career week from January 19-29, 2021.  This event, coordinated by the Uplift Career Services Team, will allow middle school and high school scholars to listen to speakers and presentations and learn about various career options.  The event will also feature workshops and activities to help scholars discover their passions and interests.

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Uplift Education was built on a promise that 100% of our graduates get accepted to college. Beyond that, we are committed to doing whatever it takes to help our alumni matriculate, persist, and graduate from college, if that is the path they choose. This has been our promise from the start.  We have always wanted our scholars to have the freedom, choices, and security, that we know a college degree can uniquely provide. 

We also know that career choices go hand in hand with college success.  We know that a student is more likely to earn a college degree if they are working toward a career inspired by passion and interest. The majority of college students feel unprepared for a professional career, with students who have identified a career path for themselves feeling twice as prepared for their futures as those who are unsure of their path, according to an analysis of a McGraw Hill Education study by Campus Technology. Source. Even if college is not the immediate choice after high school, we want to encourage other pathways that will enable an Uplift alumni to pursue a career that will enhance their desired skillset while earning a viable wage.

Exposing scholars to a wide variety of career options in middle and high school is a key factor in our Road To College & Career program.  That is why we are excited to announce a new addition to our career exposure initiatives: our very first Career Week

During this time, scholars will have the opportunity to explore career trends and pathways to help them make informed career and educational connections. The goal is to create meaningful opportunities for our scholars to explore career options and understand how to achieve their long-term personal goals.  We help them discover their strengths and passions and how those might translate into a college major and future career.

Young people can be very ambitious and motivated and are capable of great achievements very early on. Sometimes for many of our scholars, our assurances are not enough. They want to know the connection between their academic work and their potential lifelong career work. It is their human instinct to pursue achievement in this way that has them wondering, "What exactly IS a promising, fulfilling future? What is it that grownups do all day in their various professions, and which road was made for me? Where will I make my mark? How will school help me, and why should I commit to it to achieve my lifelong goals?" These questions connect our scholars' experiences in school to their future, which enhances academic motivation and provides meaning to and purpose for the work they are doing now. 

Increasing college opportunity is not just an economic imperative but a reflection of our values. We need to reach, inspire, and empower every scholar, regardless of skin color or socio-economic situation, to ensure that opportunities to excel and advance exist for individuals of all backgrounds. 

Because of this work, Uplift scholars, 88% of whom are African American or Latino, are already earning college degrees at a rate of 4X the national average for their peers. 78% of our students are the first in their families to attend college, so earning a bachelor's degree means blazing a trail and affecting generational change for their families. These are remarkable accomplishments! We know that a child's circumstance does not have to determine their destiny. With the right resources and support, Uplift scholars can and do finish college, earning themselves access to greater career choices and opportunities. 

If we want more of our scholars to stay committed to pursuing a promising future, we need to give them the tools them experience tomorrow today. 

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January has unofficially been named Divorce Month by legal experts, due to the rise in cases filed during the first month of the year. Many experts believe that the reason for this trend is that couples don't want to get divorced over the holidays. Especially couples with children, who may have thought about divorce before the holidays, but want to stay married through the end of the year so the family holiday is not tainted by the divorce. 

“There is no such thing as the perfect lawyer, just the perfect lawyer for you,” says Kris Balekian Hayes, managing partner of Balekian Hayes, PLLC. “It's crucial for those who may find themselves in need of a family law attorney to understand how to choose the right one. That’s why we created the following guide to ensure those who need legal representation are empowered to make the best choice for their specific legal needs.”

What to look for in a family lawyer? It's essential to choose a divorce lawyer wisely because the decision will ultimately impact your bottom line. The best lawyer is one that is experienced, knowledgeable and fits well with your personality. As the client, you can set the tone for your divorce. Your lawyer is there to advise you and respect your position on approaching the negotiations. Just because a lawyer is expensive doesn't necessarily mean they are the best for you. Some firms will often honor your every wish knowing that you have no chance of prevailing. Some firms will advise against certain actions knowing they are not cost effective. Because different clients have different needs, its important to choose the attorney that best fits your needs. 

If you know someone who has obtained the types of legal services you need, ask them about the attorneys they've used and their experience. How satisfied were they? Did they face any challenges with that attorney? If you do not know anyone who has used a family lawyer before, consider finding a firm with client testimonials on their websites or many positive reviews online.  

What questions should I ask during a consultation? Many attorneys will offer a consultation to get to know you and your case. Take advantage of the consultation to learn more about your potential lawyer's credentials and experience. 

  • Ask how long they have been practicing law to determine whether they are an experienced veteran or a recent graduate—or fall somewhere in between. 
  • Ask how many cases the attorney has handled that have been similar to your situation—and how well they turned out for the clients. 
  • You may also want to confirm that the attorney specializes in the legal services you need, or if it's one legal service offered among many. You may decide that you don't need a specialist; but, if that is important to you, it’s important to know.  
  • Ask how they think your case may work out and what strategies they may use.

Is it important to find a family lawyer that is board certified? Because Family Law involves a wide range of family issues including marriage, divorce proceedings, legal custody and adoption, distribution of assets and ownership of property acquired before and during the marriage, and much more, it's crucial to find a lawyer that has specialized knowledge. A board certified family lawyer will have the knowledge and expertise needed to navigate state laws and codes ( e.g., Texas Family Code) and the trials and appeals of Family Law cases.

Do I need to hire a big firm? Not necessarily, a small boutique specializing in one specific area may be the best choice for some clients because they provide a more affordable service that has a personal feel. Small firms typically have no more than a dozen partners, but you are more likely to work with an experienced partner versus an up-and-coming associate. With fewer caseloads, chances are a small firm will make you feel like your case gets the attention it deserves. Additionally, small firms may be better at adopting new ways of doing things, based on what's most convenient for individual cases or client needs. Because there is less bureaucracy at smaller firms, they can be more flexible and more available when time is of the essence.

The best way to get guidance on your specific legal issue is to contact a lawyer. To schedule a meeting with Balekian Hayes, PLLC visit: https://www.bhfamilylaw.com  

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Pet Healthy Hemp, Inc. is partnering with Pet Healthy Brands,  a leader in health-centric pet products, who together are continuing to innovate pet treats by providing the benefits of CBD hemp to pets during a time that more and more pet parents are spending time at home and with their pets as well as adopting additional companions. During 2020, about 33% more Americans have considered getting a pet now that social distancing is part of the social structure. Across generations, that rate is highest for millennials, who came in at 50%, versus Gen X, at 33%, and baby boomers, 25%, according to a survey from TD Ameritrade.

“We know that cats and dogs can absolutely lessen the feelings of loneliness and provide a sense of ease and companionship for so many people. Our goal has been, and continues to be, to provide pet parents the products that they feel good about giving to their beloved pets, and products that make the pets feel good as well,” says Walter Stock, CEO of Pet Healthy Hemp, Inc., based in Dallas, Texas.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), along with the enjoyment they provide, pets offer a variety of health benefits, including: decreased blood pressure, lowered cholesterol levels, decreased levels of triglycerides, reduced feelings of loneliness, and increased opportunities for exercise. Most households in the United States have at least one pet.

Nutrition plays a very large part in the overall quality and wellbeing of pets across ages, breeds, conditions and lifestyles.

“Recently, we have begun working with the infusion of CBD Hemp in Pet Healthy Brands signature products, and with the launch of Hemp Sprinkles, we can see the benefits of providing CBD hemp to pets in an easy way, “said Stock.  “With safety and quality taking a front seat, we are elevating something delicious and nutritious into something that will help pets who are benefited by the calming effects of hemp.  We have infused 1000mg per oz of CBD oil into our new product with 28 servings in each 1.4 oz. bottle, making for flexible use with pets of all sizes.”

Pet Healthy Hemp, Inc. is currently running an Indigogo campaign to begin the launch of this all-natural, organic, hemp-infused pet products line (LINK)

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Throughout November, two beloved North and East Texas institutions teamed up in the true spirit of giving this holiday season. Soulman's Bar-B-Que and Carter BloodCare appealed to North Texans to donate blood to help meet the urgent needs of patients in the communities they serve. Participants at Soulman's blood drives gave 234 units of blood at 18 different locations. Since one pint of whole blood can save at least three lives, Soulman's Bar-B-Que contributed to helping save about 700 lives.

"By having blood drives at each of our 18 North Texas locations, we were able to help Carter BloodCare with their growing needs in the region. Throughout 2020, the pandemic caused the cancellation of countless blood drives that, in turn, had a profound effect on the blood supply in the communities where we live and work. I was actually one of the first to donate at our Terrell location at the beginning of the drive," said Brett Randle, CEO of Soulman's Bar-B-Que.

President and CEO of Carter BloodCare, Dr. Merlyn Sayers, said, "We are grateful to Soulman's for hosting these drives and providing some real incentive to get more people out during these challenging times.  First-time blood donors made up almost 20 percent of the blood supply generated from these imperative drives."

Both leaders anticipate a continued partnership into 2021 and beyond.

 

About Soulman’s Bar-B-Que

For more than 45 years, Soulman’s Bar-B-Que has satisfied the hardest to please bar-b-que lovers….Texans!  Founded in Pleasant Grove, Texas in 1974, Soulman’s had only a few simple goals—serve great Texas-style BBQ and offer friendly, sincere service.  Soulman’s original family recipes are still the foundation for the company’s success from their 8 different types of meat that are smoked “low & slow” over only hickory wood to their famous homemade sides, including Ranch house beans and Texas style cream corn! Throughout the years, this family-owned and operated company has remained true to its original strive for success and customer satisfaction and is honored to be considered one of the Top Bar-B-Que Chains in America (2018) and Best Bar-B-Que in Dallas for Takeout  & Delivery (2020).

Soulman’s currently owns and operates 18 North and East Texas locations in Allen, Cedar Hill, Forney, Garland, Greenville, Hurst, Lancaster, Lewisville, Mansfield, Mesquite, Quinlan, Red Oak, Rockwall I-30, Rockwall Goliad, Royse CitySulphur Springs, Terrell and Van. To learn more about Soulman’s Bar-B-Que, visit them online at http://www.soulmans.com or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/soulmansbbq.

 

About Carter BloodCare

Carter BloodCare is an independent, community blood center providing transfusion resources to more than 180 medical facilities in 50-plus counties of north, central and east Texas. The non-profit 501(c)(3) organization is one of the largest blood programs in Texas, delivering more than 450,000 blood products annually to meet hospitals’ requirements for their patients. Services include collection, processing, specialized laboratory testing, storage and distribution of blood and blood products. Tu centro de sangre comunitario.

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While most children are excited to celebrate the holiday season, many children with developmental delays and disabilities struggle this time of year. The lights, sounds, and celebrations can be overwhelming for special needs kids. The experts at The Warren Center, a nonprofit agency providing professional evaluations, therapy services and support to children with developmental delays and disabilities — have found ways to control the chaos to create an experience that is fun for the whole family at their annual Operation Santa event.  

The nonprofit recently welcomed more than 600 children and their families to celebrate the season in a safe and sensory-friendly way with their specialized drive-thru event, Operation Santa, on December 5, 2020, at the United Methodist Church of Richardson. 

“Every year, the Warren Center hosts hundreds of children with developmental delays and disabilities at the annual Operation Santa holiday event, where gifts from our annual toy drive are distributed in a fun, safe and sensory-friendly atmosphere. This year's event, however, looked different due to COVID-19. To ensure social distancing and proper COVID-19 safety protocols, we are altered the party's format to serve as a drive-thru holiday celebration,” says Amy Spawn, CEO of The Warren Center. “2020 has been a challenging year for many North Texans, including the families we serve, of which at least 50 percent live beneath Texas' poverty line. Our families' needs will be much greater this year than ever before. Many of the young children we serve have chronic health conditions – and as a precaution, their parents and caregivers have decided to quarantine their families. At this year's Operation Santa, we created a sensory-friendly environment for children with developmental disabilities and their families to enjoy the holiday season safely.”

For those who are interested in learning how to celebrate the season in a safe and sensory-friendly way, the experts at The Warren Center recommend the following tips to enjoy a sensory-friendly holiday season: 

Avoid sensory overload

Consider shopping online or having someone pick up gifts for you. The crowds, sounds and lights of busy stores can be too much for a child with developmental delays and disabilities. 

Choose sensory-friendly holiday options

Flashing lights on a Christmas tree might be overwhelming to a child with developmental delays and disabilities, but a strand of lights that gently changes colors might be a good alternative. Most LED Christmas lights offer softer choices to enjoy the twinkling. Do your homework to see if virtual visits from Santa are available or consider hosting your own visit from Santa at home. 

Make gifts easy to open

Kids with disabilities may not have the motor skills needed to unwrap a gift with a lot of tape or bows. Make gifts easy to open by loosely wrapping with a little bit of tape or use gift bags. 

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The Dallas Winter Boat Expo, traditionally scheduled for the last week in January, will be postponing the 2021 event until a to-be-determined date later in the spring.  “Out of an abundance of caution, the United Boat Dealers of North Texas have considered the health and safety of our dealers, exhibitors and attendees in the decision to postpone,” said Bron Beal, Executive Director of the show’s presenting organization. “We encourage our guests to check out our website and social media for updates that will include details of upcoming events and news about the show. We are all looking forward to when we can safely engage with all of those who are looking to learn more about ‘life on the water’ in 2021.”

The Dallas Winter Boat Expo, presented by the United Boat Dealers of North Texas, typically docks more than 600 of the  latest models of marine accessories and boats, from runabouts and family cruisers, to fishing boats, ski boats, pontoons and sailboats all in one place. “For more than 30 years, we have been bringing people and boats together, and we will continue that tradition this year,” said Beal.

About the United Boat Dealers of North Texas:

The United Boat Dealers of North Texas produces boat shows to support the boating and marine industry in the greater North Texas area; bring together people with a common interest in the boating lifestyle; promote, further and encourage the boating lifestyle through education and outreach programs; and provide each exhibitor with a fair and equal opportunity to conduct business with the general public.

 

For more information about the DFW Boat Expo, go to www.dallasboatexpo.com/; Connect on Facebook– www.facebook.com/dfwboatexpo; and Twitter – @dfwboatexpo.

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Uplift Education is excited to announce our 6th annual College March, which will be held virtually for the first time! This special event will be held in December through Uplift’s social media pages and website as a virtual video for each campus. Refer to this page for date and time for each campus: www.uplifteducation.org/collegemarch

College March is an annual event celebrating our seniors and their hard work. They have spent years developing academic and social skills, writing essays, and exploring their college and career options, and this event is the point where their dreams and plans for the future are put into action. College March kicks off the application process as our seniors make their way to a symbolic mailbox that represents the completion/submission of their college or post-secondary applications. This event also allows their underclassmen peers a glimpse into what’s in store for them when they become seniors. Traditionally, this event would bring 885 senior scholars to “march” through crowds of fellow scholars, staff, community supporters and family, cheering them on as they make their way to the mailbox. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic restricting large crowds and gatherings this year, it is the network’s priority to ensure social distancing amongst our scholars and staff. Instead, a compilation video will be produced for each campus that will air on Uplift’s social media pages and website.

College March furthers the college and career-bound culture and encourages the underclassmen in their pursuit of both. While we cannot match the energy of our live event, we are excited to watch the creativity and enthusiasm unfold in our creative, virtual platform!

Uplift students earn college degrees at a rate four times the national average of their peers and more than twice the average of students in the state of Texas. 100% of Uplift’s eligible high schools were named among the Best High Schools in the nation by the U.S. News & World Report for 2020. All of our high schools were within the top 12%.

“Our scholars virtual march is symbolic of hours, days, and years of hard work and commitment that they put in. We could not be more proud of the way our seniors are maintaining their academic goals, often while working to help support their family. They have also shown amazing creativity and enthusiasm as they have built new traditions and memories for their senior year during a pandemic,” said Yasmin Bhatia, Uplift CEO. 

We encourage the community to post to social media using the hashtag #Upliftcollegemarch to support our seniors. While we all adapt to this “new normal”, we are confident that NOTHING has changed for our seniors as they prepare for their future.  They are equipped with solid, globally-focused academic knowledge, key critical thinking skills, and strong leadership abilities.

“I love Uplift because of the opportunity they can give you; if it were not for Uplift, I do not think I would be where I am right now. Before going to Uplift, I honestly never thought about going to college and did not know what I wanted in a career; it really changed my life.” - Roberto Moreno, Uplift Williams alumni, 2012 Graduate 

“Having teachers truly believe in me really fueled my fire and pushed me to learn more and become a well-rounded scholar.” – Mariah Steward, Uplift Luna alumni, 2016 Graduate  

Uplift Education is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to changing the lives of teachers, families, and, most importantly, students. With a network of 46 college preparatory, public charter schools in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, Uplift offers students of any background the powerful chance to study within a multidisciplinary curriculum and prepare for the college career they deserve. Uplift is the largest International Baccalaureate district in Texas and the #2 IB district in the nation because of the number of holistic extracurricular and educational programs. The incredible educators in the Uplift network guide and teach over 21,000 students in Pre-K- 12th?grades, with the majority being low-income and minority students who will be the first in their family to attend college. For more information Uplift’s mission and their blind lottery selection system, visit?uplifteducation.org?or?facebook.com/uplifteducation

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Rainbow Vomit, Dallas' #1 rated immersive art exhibit, is getting in the holiday spirit with the opening of its “Magical Winter Dreamland” installation. With heightened health and safety precautions, this limited Holiday edition of the exhibit will transport visitors to a visual splendor full of mystery and magic with special features such as an all-new lighting system, holiday decor and props in the unique Rainbow Vomit style, and winter-themed scenes. 

Grab your camera and bring your family and friends to enjoy the special Holiday-themed art installs in the space and dozens of unique photo ops featuring over 10,000 LEDs, 300 pounds of cotton, 5 miles of ribbon, and a secret unicorn. The secret Cloud Room continues to be a favorite discovery of guests and has been reimagined with more clouds than ever before to create a breathtaking experience.

Rainbow Vomit creator Deanna Theis reminds visitors that “a journey to Rainbow Vomit is great for a fun family outing, a special date night, photo and video shoots, and private parties. It’s a safe and fun activity for when the kids are out of school. It’s also a once-in-a-lifetime experience for out of town guests who will not soon forget their time at Rainbow Vomit.” 

Consistently rated a #1 experience by travel and review websites such as Tripadvisor, Yelp and Google, Rainbow Vomit is also available for private rentals for groups of friends or families in their “Private Sanctuary” sessions where guests can have the exhibit all to themselves and bring in their own party supplies.

Since opening in January 2019, Rainbow Vomit has made its mark on the Dallas artistic and experiential landscape by welcoming more than 40,000 guests, dozens of unique engagements, countless birthday parties, and the endless creation of magical memories. During the summer of 2020, they opened the Sanctuary exhibit in response to the pandemic, with enhanced safety measures for guests, limited tour group sizes, and a peaceful escape from reality that could be enjoyed by adults and kids alike.

Theis continues, “Rainbow Vomit has been created as a space where adults can feel like kids again. We hope that all who come can recapture some magic in their lives in a time when we all surely need some positivity.”

 

When:  Now through Jan 5, 2021  

(Open Thursday to Monday, Closed Tuesdays & Wednesdays)

T & W: Closed

M: 2pm-8pm

Th :12pm-830pm

Fr & Sa: 12pm-10pm

Su: 12pm-6pm

*Times are subject to change, check rainbowvomit.com for full ticket listing details

Where: Rainbow Vomit is located across the street from the historic Fair Park right off the DART at 3609 Parry Avenue, Dallas, TX, 75226 (map). 

PRICING

GENERAL ADMISSION (ALL AGES)  $23-$28

  • Entrance for 1 hour into Rainbow Vomit’s Winter Dreamland. Children under the age of 3 don’t need a ticket
  • Weekday pricing of $23 Monday-Thursday and does not include holidays
  • Children under 3 receive Free Admission

 

CHILDREN’S ADMISSION (3-12) - $17-$20

  • This ticket is for children aged 3-12 years old and grants one-hour admission into Rainbow Vomit’s Magical Winter Dreamland.
  • Weekday pricing of $17 applies Monday-Thursday and does not include holidays

 

MILITARY, STUDENT & SENIOR ADMISSION - $20-$25

  • Receive a 10% discount for military members, students, and seniors 65 and over. Must show valid ID to redeem ticket. Grants 1 hour entry into Rainbow Vomit.
  • Weekday pricing of $20 applies Monday-Thursday and does not include holidays

PRO PHOTO PACKAGE -  $32-$40 per person 

  • Grants an extra half hour of shooting time at Rainbow Vomit’s Winter Dreamland for two or more guests, 1.5 hours total
  • Permits the use of professional camera and video equipment, flashes, additional lighting, etc.

PRIVATE SANCTUARY - $200-$400/hr

  • Take over the entire space of Rainbow Vomit with just you and your friends
  • BYOB and outside food allowed
  • Great for birthdays, private parties, and creative photo/video shoots
  • Pricing varies by day of week and party size, contact for a custom quote
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The Warren Center, a nonprofit agency providing professional evaluations, therapy services and support to children with developmental delays and disabilities – wants to help parents check off their holiday shopping list with gifts that will help children meet their developmental milestones. 

For those who are feeling stumped about great gifts to give children this holiday season, The Warren Center therapists have provided a guide to toys that help with development. Whether the child your shopping for is an infant, toddler, or in preschool, these toys can help little ones reach important milestones at every stage. A look at the best developmental toys for children can help transform a visit from Santa into a valuable present that improves the gift recipient’s abilities all year long. This year the team of experts at The Warren Center hand-selected gifts that are best suited for children with developmental delays and disabilities available for purchase from this Amazon Wish List, where friends and family can find guidance on gift-giving this holiday season. 

Shoppers can also opt to donate a toy to a child with special needs, which will be hand-delivered by Santa Clause at The Warren Center’s Drive-Thru Operation Santa event that serves children with developmental delays and disabilities. While shopping on Amazon, make sure to use smile.amazon.com, and 0.5% of your purchases will be donated back to The Warren Center. Simply select The Warren Center as your charity of choice when you sign up at Amazon Smile. 

The following toys were chosen by therapists at The Warren Center as the best developmental toys to give children this holiday season:

INFANTS 

 

BABY BANANA INFANT TRAINING TOOTHBRUSH AND TEETHER 

Teach your child good oral hygiene from the earliest possible age with this training toothbrush. Made of ultra-soft silicone, the toothbrush bristles gently clean incoming teeth and massage teething gums. A great alternative to conventional teething toys, this brush can store easily in the freezer if desired and rinse clean in the dishwasher after use. The easy-to-grasp toothbrush is appropriate for babies as young as three months through one-year-old. This is a great gift for infants because it encourages fine motor skills like grasping, reaching, and use of hands and fingers. It also enables great practice of skills learned through occupational therapy (such as oral care, use of hygiene utensils, and other “occupations” and tasks needed for everyday life). This is an excellent resource for early adaptive and self-care development.

 

BRIGHT STARTS SIT & FLOOR MIRROR 
Take your baby on an adventurous safari with this sitting and floor mirror. Perfect for getting babies excited about tummy time, this fabric-covered mirror lets infants discover themselves in a baby expedition. In addition to reducing fussiness surrounding tummy time, this mirror also increases awareness about extremities and encourages infants to hold themselves upright in a sitting position. The mirror is large enough to share with parents during bonding playtime, and the folding storage mechanism makes it perfect for tidying or portable travel. This is a great gift for infants because it helps develop gross motor skills for rising to a sitting position or sit-and-play. It also encourages early self-awareness, self-identity, and self-recognition.  

FISHER PRICE RATTLE N’ ROCK MARACAS

Bring music to your baby’s ears with these delightful maracas. Designed for an infant’s small hands and ever-present curiosity, these colorful maracas are easy to grasp and shake. The corresponding grasping and rattling encourage fine motor skills for fingers and hands as well as gross motor skills for the arms and shoulders. Plus, the delightful sounds, textures, and vivid colors are the perfect supplement for sensory development. Whether it is for soothing or keeping your infant occupied, these two maracas can fill your infant’s world with the sound of music. The set includes two toy maracas to build development in both hands. This is a great gift for development because it helps strengthen fine motor skills through grasping and gross motor skills through active playIt also provides a healthy outlet for sensory processing development through the combination of sounds, textures, and colorsWith this toy infants can practice exchanging tools and utensils between each handThis gift is suitable for babies as young as three months old.

TODDLERS

TODDLER BUSY BOARD 

Encourage self-help and organization skills early with this toddler busy board. Designed as an educational learning toy to help develop fine motor skills, this toy has just the right amount of textures and colors to keep your child occupied for hours. With this toy, toddlers learn self-sufficiency and motor-coordination skills with the same fun and self-accomplishment as successfully completing a puzzle. Toddlers can also learn the basic skills needed to dress themselves through active and repetitive activity. In addition to its function as a learning tool, this busy board is quiet enough for self-soothing and lightweight enough to bring along during airplane or car travel. It is a great gift for toddler development because it teaches adaptive and self-help skills like motor coordination and learning to dress. It encourages fine motor skills with the help of nine buckles, ties, and buttons. This gift is perfect for practicing occupational therapy exercises and encourages sensory development at a child’s own pace. It is a self-sufficiency toy reminiscent of completing a puzzle and occupying enough to facilitate self-soothing. This toy offers practical adaption for children who engage in repetitive behaviors. It offers hands-on activity that teaches children the basic skills needed to put on shoes, shirts, sweaters, jackets, and coats

 

ANIMAL FARM PLAY SET FOR TODDLERS

Let your child’s imagination run free with this six-piece big red barn. As the brainchild of a century-old expert toy company, this big red barn encourages sensory development and endless pretend play. By combining motor skills with imagination, the toy may help improve repetitive memory, sharper concentration, and better attention span. The set includes easy-to-grasp pieces like a toy horse, sheep, pig, cow, and farmer, allowing your child to practice fine motor skills and create story scenarios during social and solo play. The barn features opening doors and a second floor, and the top handle lets your child carry the toy to any desired space. Foldable for easy cleanup and storage, this barn set is a must-have for bedrooms, nurseries, and play areas. It is an excellent toy for facilitating pretend play, imaginative and creative ability, and narrative storytelling. The two-story barn and five corresponding pieces help children identify animals and learn logical spatial arrangement. The variety of surfaces and colors improves sensory development. The toys allows for repetitive and pretend play which helps improve memory, concentration, and attention span. This gift is suitable for both solo and social play. The barn’s opening doors and easy-grip animals encourage fine motor skills and coordination.

 

MELISSA & DOUG SUNNY PATCH BLOSSOM BRIGHT BUBBLE TRUMPET

Encourage sensory and oral motor skills all at once with this bubble trumpet toy. This innovative toy doubles as both a whistle and a bubble blower wand. It encourages oral motor skills through use of the whistle as well as sensory experience through the multifaceted wand and creation of gorgeous bubbles. Featuring a durable plastic construction, the toy produces quality sounds as both a dry whistle as well as an indoor or outdoor bubble wand. With a sturdy handle that encourages fine motor skills and coordination, this toy is the ideal companion for the creation of countless childhood memories. Two-in-one whistle and bubble blower. Colorful, multifaceted whistle and bubble blower encourages sensory development. An early introduction to  the whistle instrument enables great oral-motor practice. Suitable for wet or dry use. Production of sound or bubbles helps toddlers learn about cause and effect. Durable construction can be used indoor or outdoor. Set includes a high-quality bubble solution.

PRESCHOOLERS

 

DOODLE MAT 

The possibilities are endless with this large educational doodle mat. This mat encourages the use of writing utensils for drawing, coloring, painting, or writing – all without wasting paper or getting accidental crayon marks on furniture. Children can use this large space to learn everything from color identification and the alphabet to drawing basic shapes and numbers. The mat is large enough for solo use and sharing with others as well as parents and children to draw together. With this multisensory experience, your child’s imagination can soar while the practical mind becomes accustomed whiteboard-style learning that children often encounter in school. The multisensory experience helps improve attention span and concentration while use of writing utensils encourages fine motor skills development. The oversized mat can also build social and interactive skills through sharing and spatial awareness. The set includes magic pens, stamps, templates, brush pot, and drawing manual for teaching color and shape identification. Also included in the set are storage bags that make clean up easy. 

 

MELISSA & DOUG CLASSIC WOODEN FIGURE EIGHT TRAIN SET 

Create timeless memories with this classic train set. With its sturdy wooden frame, traditional figure-eight design, and a total of 22 pieces, this train set creatives a remarkably full railway system for learning. The set includes tracks, a bridge, wooden engine, and coal car for hours of imaginative and pretend play. Introduce your child to the very first basics of design engineering while creating spatial awareness, narrative logical thinking, and linear problem-solving. Naturally boosting hand-eye coordination, motor skills, and dexterity, this train set fosters boundless fun for learning and play. The figure-eight design and corresponding pieces help develop hand-eye coordination, fine motor and gross motor skills, spatial awareness, and physical dexterity. The hands-on construction process supports narrative thinking as well as logical and linear problem-solving. The set’s textures and colors are excellent for sensory development and pretend play. This gift is suitable for children as young as three. 

PEPPA PIG ON THE GO 72 PAGE COLORING ACTIVITY BOOK WITH A SET OF 8 EASY TO GRIP COLORFUL JUMBO CRAYONS

Encourage fine motor skills and pure imagination all at once with this coloring book and jumbo crayon set. Featuring eight bright jumbo crayons and a friendly Peppa Pig activity book, this set makes it easy for preschoolers to practice using writing utensils and identifying colors. The set includes a pack with built-in storage to strengthen organization skills while teaching cleanup and responsibility. With its portable handle, this set is the perfect companion for travel or hours of creative fun.

The easy-grip jumbo crayons and built-in storage until encourage fine motor skills and hand dexterity. The set facilitates practice with writing utensils, color identification, and drawing basic shapes or letters. The bright colors create positive sensory stimulation.

View the Warren Center’s Amazon Operation Santa Wish list to donate or view more toy suggestions that can help children reach their developmental goals. https://amzn.to/2AHpbQT.