Posts tagged special needs

This Kid!

Congrats Gavin Schultz, Class of 2016Gavin in graduation gown 2016

Here is a boy that has come so far and will go even farther because his mother, Cindy Schultz, would not let the diagnoses of autism stand in her way to help him succeed in life. Gavin has the same outlook on life. He is positive, inspiring, encouraging others with his words of wisdom. He went to elementary school in Racine. Then Cindy decided to homeschool him for middle school and high school.

Gavin at college 2016She could not be more proud of her son. He is very intelligent. He now attends Wisconsin Independent Learning College in Waukesha two afternoons a week. He along with other students do educational and vocational activities. They are involved in community activities and learn daily living skills.

He has become a public speaker and has spoke at a huge Autism One Conference for 3 years in a row in Chicago Il. He is working on publishing a book of his writings. Nothing will hold this young man back. He has God on his side every step of the way.

Gavin 2 years oldGavin Schultz God has a planFrom a lost little 2 year old boy when the sparkle left
his eyes and he lost his words to a young man that LOVES Jesus and sees all the good around him.

God has a plan for this one and he is living it!

Watch “My Journey with Autism: The Hopeful One”

My Journey with Autism Gavin Schultz May 2016


Gavin and his service dog, Rusty

Gavin and his service dog, Rusty


Gavin and I at his graduation 2016

Gavin and I at his graduation party July 2016

Gavin. His mom, Cindy. And service dog, Rusty are inspirational in Just Add Kids serving the special needs community and launching JAK – SKE or Just Add Kids – Special Kids Edition which includes a Facebook Group and Calendar of Events that serve those in the special needs community in SE Wisconsin.

I’m so honored and blessed to call them my friends.


Paula Herrmann, Founder
Just Add Kids


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Why Beatrice O Needs a Bike

And how YOU can help!Beatrice bike giveaway

Read more…

Dear Just Add Kids friends,

I would like to tell you about a special opportunity that Beatrice, a 4 year old from Racine, has along with 599 other children with special needs. An organization called Friendship Circle is running a campaign called the Great Bike Giveaway where they hope to give away 600 adaptive bikes to children with special needs from around the United States.

I am sure you remember the day you received your first bike. The joy you experienced and the freedom you felt when riding a bike for the first time. For a child with special needs bike riding offers far more than a recreational experience. Bike riding provides a source of much needed exercise, gives therapeutic value and contributes to an inclusive environment where a child with special needs can ride a bike like everyone else.

Due to balance and mobility challenges many children and teens with special needs require the use of an adaptive bikes. Sadly, many cannot afford the high costs of adaptive bikes and remain on the sidelines while watching their friends and family members ride by.

Friendship Circle is currently running the Great Bike Giveaway in an effort to raise over one million dollars so 600 very special children can enjoy something many of us take for granted.

I am writing to you to see if you would be willing to be a partner in this important cause and help Beatrice and 599 others receive a very special bike.

Click here, and if you’re open to donating….awesome! But for sure, you can VOTE for Beatrice and make sure she is one of the bike recipients.  Thank you so much for your time.

3/24/16 update: A special added note that was missed in our original post:
Contest closes Wednesday, March 30, 12:00 pm!
Voting will end all donations submitted after this time will go towards developing the Great Bike Giveaway in 2017.

Also, please see story that was broadcasted on CBS58:

Snap of Beatrice on CBS 58

Paula Herrmann
Just Add Kids & Just Add Kids – Special Kids Edition Founder
Great Bike Giveaway Ambassador
Just Add Kids logo shrunk with website square color



Just Add Kids Special Kids Edition




Great Bike Giveaway ambassador



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JAK gives birth…

Welcome JAK-SKE!Just Add Kids Special Kids Edition
by Just Add Kids founder,
Paula Herrmann

Okay, so JAK-SKE isn’t exactly new. Yet, if I asked for a show of hands as to how many of you know what JAK-SKE is, there’d be a majority of you who don’t know.

So, while JAK-SKE isn’t a newborn, he/she’s got a coming out, of sorts, to announce. Read more…

First, for those of you who don’t know what the what this JAK-SKE thing is all about, let me start there. JAK-SKE stands for Just Add Kids – Special Kids Edition. Oh yah, that’s what that hard to read type says on the logo above ^^!

We started with **’ing events in our JAK Happenings Calendar of Events. Those events are activities & events that are designed for and/or welcoming to families of children/dependent young adults with special needs. For instance, **Special Needs Family Day at Sealed Air YMCA** which we shall get to very soon in this blog post.

Soon after that, we launched our JAK-SKE Facebook group whose mission is for its members to connect around our common struggles and successes for the benefit our SE Wisconsin/NE Illinios extra needs & special needs children/dependent adults and ourselves. Parents, family members, caregivers, educators, healthcare providers, therapists, and children (13+) have a place to meet socially to be a resource for each other, share experiences, and to provide support. Click here to request to join in the conversation on Facebook.

Next, we created JAK-SKE’s own Happenings Calendar of Events. While we strive to be all -inclusive in our basic, original calendar with denoting the **’d events. We have also extracted those events out, just for ease of perusing. 

So finally, the exciting news you have been waiting for…. But, wait! You may have seen it already, because I just could not contain the excitement of this upcoming event until this blog post…. Either way,  Just Add Kids – Special Kids Edition is excited to announce its partnership with the Racine Family YMCA and Autism Solution Pieces in bringing the next Special Needs Family Fun Day which is taking place this Sunday at the Sealed Air YMCA from 1-3pm. Please see flier below. If you click on the flier, a pdf version will pop open that you can download and share. You do know, you can actually save the below flier in a jpg on your device, as well, right?

YMCA Special Needs Family Day 2.21.2016 (updated).jpg

All friends and families of individuals with special needs are welcome to come. We’d appreciate you letting others know. Thank you!

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Uncommonly, JAK

Gavin Schultz on computerNormal or Different
Written by Just Add Kids 
Guest Blogger from Caledonia, Gavin Schultz 

Do you ever stop to think that the people that say they are “normal” really are not?  Thank God for making us all different.

I am grateful that he made me extra special. Special needs individuals have extraordinary gifts to share with the world.

Do you even realize how much more intelligent gifted people are? Take for instance, Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison. Their minds were able to see and invent spectacular things. Read more…

We benefit daily from their obsessions with creating technology.

Think about the beautiful art work by Michelangelo and Vincent Van Gogh, it is breath taking. The masterpieces of music that was written and performed by Beethoven and Mozart were magnificent.

Temple Grandin has created better livestock handling systems. She has written many books and shares her knowledge at conferences.  She is amazing.

There are many more people that think or know they are on the autism spectrum.  Is that so bad?  I think not, because I have autism too and that is ok.  I would rather be known among these great individuals over being “normal” any day.

God is in control of all things.  Us “weirdos” as some people might call us, were not just put here on earth to aggravate the “normal” person. We have a purpose and we use our purpose to fulfill our missions in life.  Like I want to be a public speaker and write a book. Have I let the fact that I do not have a voice stop me? NO!

Never give up on life no matter what. People that think they are better than us are wrong. People that have hate in their lives for others just because they are not like them are evil. Surround yourself with positive, inspiring, talented people that believe in you. Then see what you can do to make a difference and change the world for the better.

Love, Gavin Schultz

Note: Gavin Schultz is a 17 year old young man from Caledonia who was diagnosed with autism at the age of 3. Gavin is “labeled” as “non-verbal”. He has been able to communicate “talk” through writing via Rapid Prompting Method (RPM). Gavin aspires to be a public speaker and book author. Meeting Gavin; his mother Cindy Schultz; and service dog, Rusty; inspired the creation of Just Add Kids’ dedicated Facebook group and website page with the common name Just Add Kids – Special Kids Edition, or JAK-SKE, for short.

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Mmmm, Memorable


Shirt reads "This is faithfulness at its finest"

Shirt reads “This is faithfulness at its finest”

by Just Add Kids Founder
Paula Herrmann

I kinda don’t even feel like I have the right to write about this, having only been on the sidelines. But, it has been on my mind for the last 4 days. The impression it’s left…well, unforgettable.

                                                                                                                                  If you missed out on any of the snapshots, comments, chatter about it….my gosh, I’ll do my best, from the eyes and heart of this spectator who has been touched so deeply.  Read more….

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       I’m talking about “A Night to Remember – Special Needs Prom” that was brought to life this past Sunday evening by the Great Lakes Church community and Racine community at large. My heart has grown especially soft and fond for the special needs community all spurred on by friendship that has started and grown over the last year. Oh, and if you’ve been a reader of JAK Chat, you may be familiar with the trio I am referring to. That being 16 year old Gavin who has autism: his service dog, Rusty; and his mom, Cindy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The event brought together businesses, organizations, and individuals that donated tuxedos, dresses, limos, primping, photos,

Gavin at tux fitting days prior to ANTR

Gavin at tux fitting days prior to ANTR

time…so much happened behind the scenes, yet for those of us who were spectators, it all came to life on the Red Carpet as each of the nearly 100 honored guests (special needs teens and young adults) were announced and escorted down the path with crowds cheering, cameras snapping, videos rolling, and tears streaming, into Racine’s Festival Hall (which also played host to the prior evening’s Post Prom party for area high schools) where dancing and activities ensued. Of course, most touching personally, was when the crowd was summoned to do a silent cheer for Gavin with hands up (pictured above). Too much noise for Gavin is over-stimulating.

Gavin with his escorts approach the Red Carpet

Gavin with his escorts approach the Red Carpet

I didn’t partake and observe anything that went on inside, but let’s let the pictures and Gavin’s recap below do the “talkin’ “…

Gavin and friend, Jenna

Gavin and friend, Jenna

And they danced....

And they danced….

...and danced!

…and danced!

                                                                                                                              Here’s what non-verbal Gavin had to say about the memorable event via Rapid Prompting Method, in conversation with his therapist Jackie and his mom.

Jackie and Gavin post prom dialog 5.2014Mom – What did you think of the Night to Remember prom?
Gavin – I had a great time.
Mom – How did you feel walking down the red carpet and everyone was doing the quiet waving for you?
Gavin – I loved it.
Mom – Did you like dancing with Jenna and Bella and all the other girls? You danced with way more then 10 girls.
Gavin – I felt cool. They were all so beautiful.
Mom- What was so appealing in the quiet room that you kept going back there after every dance?
Gavin – It was relaxing.
Jackie – Were you trying to find more girls to dance with?
Gavin – Yes, next year can you come Jackie?
Jackie – I have Sunday’s off and would love to help if I am invited.
Mom – What would you like to tell Great Lakes Church, Jeremy and Angela and all the other volunteers that made this prom so AWESOME!
Gavin – I had a great prom. Thank you for all you did for us.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Even more touched, is Cindy, Gavin’s mom. Reflecting on the event, Cindy was up late last night and wrote out her thoughts in these words…

When “you” realize life is not all about “I and me” it’s about “us and we”,

that’s when together we can truly make a difference in this world.

~ Cindy Schultz (Autism Solution Pieces – Co Founder).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Cindy writes on her Facebook wall…”This is how I felt the night of the Night to Remember Special Needs Prom (Great Lakes Church, Jeremy Moore, Angela Tappa and the many other volunteers that made this night so amazing for our kids ~ THANK YOU!!!!)”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      And from a woman, a mom, a friend from the sidelines (that would be ME!)….Kudos to Great Lakes Church, hundreds of volunteers, countless donors/donations. You’ve made our community a better place! Well done!


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Where There’s a Need

lukasSpecial Children Need
by JAK guest blogger, Amanda Burns, of Racine

Hi there. My name is Amanda J. Burns, and I founded Children with Disabilities in February of 2007 inspired by my son who was born with Cerebral Palsy. The goal of this organization is to help fund programs that serve special needs children. These children require a lot of supplies at school and acquiring those supplies can get expensive. The teachers and teacher’s aides that work in the special needs classes purchase a lot of the supplies that are used at school. As there isn’t a budget for these supplies, the cost comes out of the pockets of the teachers and staff.

The supplies include such things as laundry soap, tissue, baby wipes, dish soap, and liquid hand soap. Other supplies are school and craft items such as markers, paints, construction paper, and so forth. The children also go on outings that include going to Target, Wal-Mart, and the bowling alley. These outings require the parents and caregivers of the children to pay for the field trips. Unfortunately not all families can afford the field trips. Once again the teachers will use their personal funds to pay so that all of the children are included in these events. It is important to the children that their friends are included in any and all activities.

I have seen the teachers and staff work and I appreciate everything that they do for my child at school. Because of their devotion to these children I want to help them provide for the children. I am starting by having a Children with Disabilities Vendor and Craft Fundraiser.

The event will be held on Saturday April 13, 2013 from 10am – 4pm at CareersIndustries located at 4811 Washington Ave., in Racine WI. There will be over 40 Crafters and Vendors at this event. I have arranged for a nominal admission fee of $2. This money will be split evenly between Children with Disabilities and Careers Industries, which is a center for disabled adults.

In addition to the crafts and vendors we will be having a 50/50 raffle, silent auction, and other individual items raffled off. The other items include sports memorabilia, restaurant gift cards, a gymnastics birthday party, Timber Ridge Lodge birthday party, plus items from each of the participating vendors. Daniel Chiropractic will also be giving free spinal screenings.

Craig Newsome, former NFL cornerback of the Green Bay Packers, will be there signing autographs! Bring your Packer gear and get your autographs!!!

Children’s books will also be available for sale, as well as a concession area with food and drinks.

I would greatly appreciate any help to guarantee this event be successful and well run. Anyone that would like to volunteer at the event and/or donate an item for the silent auction or raffle can contact me at, or they can bring any of the supplies named above to the event and we will have a supply box for the items!!! Donated items can also be taken to Careers Industries, as we are having a supply drive.

All proceeds earned at this event will go towards the special needs children in our local schools for classroom supplies and field trips.

Some of the crafters include:

Glitzy Glamour Boutique- home made tutus, tutu dresses and hair accessories

Caledonia Lioness Club- scarves and jewelry

Heartfelt & Home Spun- knitted & crochet items

Sea Bath & Beauty- home made soaps, chap sticks, and bath bombs

The Kurlinski’s- latch hook rugs & jewelry

Gia Robertson- cushions, travel pillows, scarves & throws

Bagn’ You- fabric totes & drawstring back packs

Judy Maranger & Janice Goebel- book art & pop top bracelets

Katie Degroot- crochet dishcloths & hot pads

Lucille Sauder- fleece blankets, baby, kitchen, & wood items

Lynette Uttech- burp rags, wood doll beds & stools

Mary Blankenship- hand painted items

The Paper Turtle- hand crafted & unique items made of paper, yarn and fabric

Patricia Herr- paper crafts, wine glasses, autism awareness items

Sweet Somethings- cupcakes

Teralyn’s Creations- crochet items

Linda Kenyon- baby shower items

Karrens’ Cookies- cookies

Annie Gartner- scarves, hats, & Packer stuff

Dic’s Wics- soy candles & sugar scrubs

Kenny Szafasz- woodcarvings

2 Crafty Girls- coasters & t-shirt scarves

Wisconian Delactables- homemade gourmet chips

Some of the vendors include:






Tastefully Simple

It Works



Paparazzi Jewelry

The Pampered Chef



Grace Adele


Origami Owl

Organo Coffee

Children with Disabilities event

Note: the time for Craig Newsome autographs is subject to change.

Follow this event on




Amanda is married with 3 kids stay at home mom, and a full-time student. She is also an entrepreneur who makes custom tutu dresses, tutus, dog tutus, and hair accessories.

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