The Children's Institute Blog

“Presents from Police” Pack Squad Cars and Deliver Holiday Joy

Posted by The Children's Institute - Dec 21, 2019

Group Photo - Presents from Police stand under sign at The Children's Institute
“Presents from Police” – a toy drive effort started by local law enforcement over a decade ago and continuing strong today – made a special visit to The Children’s Institute of Pittsburgh on Tuesday, December 17, 2019. While the visit brings smiles to students of The Day School at The Children’s Institute and brightens outpatient areas, police officers also find great joy in the visit. Read More...



Ray Wojszynski Gives the Gift of Music

Posted by The Children's Institute - Dec 06, 2019


Life was humming along for the Wojszynskis in early 2014. Ray had recently retired, and he and his wife were making big plans for their Golden Years. But the tempo changed that November when Ray was diagnosed with lymphoma, followed by his wife's diagnosis of ovarian cancer shortly after his cancer went into remission. The two of them drove past The Children's Institute of Pittsburgh often on their way to chemotherapy treatments at Hillman Cancer Center.

"I won my battle, but she lost hers," reflects Ray. "I wondered, 'What am I supposed to do now?'"

It didn't take Ray long to find an answer. After donating his slightly used electronic drum kit to the Western Pennsylvania School for the Blind, followed by two brand-new 88-key electronic pianos, Ray made his first donation to The Children's Institute in January 2017. Read More...



Overcoming Challenges: Eddie's Story

Posted by The Children's Institute - Nov 29, 2019

Eddie smiling
Eddie was born on June 6, 2012, weighing just 4 lbs. 6 oz. After a normal, full term pregnancy, nobody expected him to be that small. Eddie spent his first 12 days in the hospital having test after test. He spent the next five years enduring numerous doctor's appointments, long hospital stays, and endless therapy sessions.

Today, at age seven, Eddie is 100% tube fed with an extreme oral aversion. He is non-verbal and does not communicate, with a severe intellectual disability. He can walk using a walker, but is very unstable, needing guidance as he moves.

While Eddie does not have a specific diagnosis, he shows signs of cerebral palsy. He was also diagnosed in March of 2017 with epilepsy and his care team is working hard to keep his seizures under control. 

However, despite his challenges, Eddie is a happy, playful little boy. Read More...



Hope for the Holidays

Posted by The Children's Institute - Nov 20, 2019

STAR 100.7 radio station filled with gifts, Kelly from STAR 100.7 stands with Bethany Leas of Project STAR
It's amazing how love from a stranger can restore holiday hope to a vulnerable family. This is the mission of the Hope for the Holidays gift drive of Project STAR at The Children's Institute of Pittsburgh.

"Our families are dealing with so many challenges," explains Bethany Leas, Assistant Director of Project STAR. "We know firsthand that they wouldn't have a holiday without our help because their focus is on securing the most basic necessities - so we provide Christmas for them."

The holiday gift drive supports families in Project STAR's four-county region who are receiving intensive family support services, as well as those in the foster care and adoption programs. Older youth living in group facilities are also served. Read More...



The Tadler Family of Five

Posted by The Children's Institute - Nov 05, 2019

Tadler family laughing and smiling
Life moves fast in the Tadler household. Molly, the third grader, does homework before softball practice and eagerly anticipates her weekend guitar and horseback riding lessons. Sister Corrina, age 4, can't wait to start her own riding and music lessons as soon as she is old enough. For now, she is busy with preschool and T-ball and her favorite cartoon character, Peppa Pig. Little Alice - called Ally - recently turned 2. She has plenty of energy to keep up with her sisters and take care of her menagerie of stuffed animals, most of them bunnies named "Bunny."

"I love being the father of three girls," says John Tadler, a Lieutenant for the Allegheny County Police Department. "I can't imagine life any other way."

John and Mary Tadler were in their 40s when they married, and after their daughter Molly was born in September 2009, they were unable to have another biological child. Motivated by the feeling that their family wasn't complete, the couple began thinking about adoption, which ultimately led them to Project STAR at The Children's Institute of Pittsburgh. Read More...



Growing into a Lifechanger

Posted by The Children's Institute - Oct 29, 2019

Jacob Haugh smiling
A few weeks before Jacob, who has autism, turned nine in the Spring of 2015, Jacob's parents asked him what he wanted for his birthday. A very mature "I have everything I need," was his reply.

"Our response - a teachable parenting moment about giving back to others - has evolved into an incredible fundraising journey for Jacob and the rest of our family," says Megan, his mom. Read More...



Pascal Completes the Intensity Program During Spina Bifida Awareness Month

Posted by The Children's Institute - Oct 25, 2019

Pascal on tricycle, smiling
Born with Spina Bifida

“My husband and I were so excited at our 20 week ultrasound to find out the gender of our baby. Our world was rocked when the technician said, ‘Your child has Spina Bifida. It is a birth defect in which the spine does not fully close when developing. Your child will probably not be able to walk and it looks as though he will need a shunt.’ She continued on with more potential issues and a grim outlook on his diagnosis,” said Emily Gasse of Pittsburgh.

Pascal with his mother Emily “We found hope at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. After extensive testing, it was determined that we qualified for fetal surgery. Closing the lesion before the baby is born prevents further damage to the spine, allows the baby to heal before birth, and has also proven to eliminate the need for a shunt. This is the option we chose, and even though there is no cure for Spina Bifida, the surgery seemed to save some of the function that otherwise might have been lost. We were also fortunate to avoid the need for a shunt. Our beautiful baby boy, Pascal, was born happy and healthy! We weren’t sure yet if he would walk, but we loved watching him kick his legs!” said Emily of her happy boy who now loves to play with cars and Mickey Mouse. Read More...



Amazing Therapists at Sienna's Happy Place

Posted by The Children's Institute - Oct 15, 2019

Sienna with toy in therapy pool

In honor of National Physical Therapy Month and Down Syndrome Awareness Month this October, we invited the mother of one of our amazing kids to share her honest, heartfelt, and inspiring story in her own words. Read on to learn more about her daughter, Sienna, and why The Children's Institute is her happy place. 
 Read More...



Nurturing the Mind, Body, and Spirit

Posted by The Children's Institute - Oct 08, 2019

Nurturing the Mind, Body, and Spirit
Helping a child to reach his or her full potential requires a dynamic process of growth and change that comes from caring for the mind, the body, and the spirit. This is the hallmark of how The Children's Institute of Pittsburgh has worked to meet its mission for more than a century.

"The Children's Institute has a rich history of providing comprehensive care to treat the whole person," explains Stacey Vaccaro, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for The Children's Institute. "As the need for community-based health services continues to grow, we are positioning the organization to extend our reach throughout the area, offering families better access to high-quality outpatient behavioral health care we provide." Read More...



Blooming with Artistic Talent

Posted by The Children's Institute - Oct 02, 2019

Jarrod Edson holding a piece of his artwork
Young Jarrod Edson loved to doodle – and his autism is an asset to his artistry. For Jarrod, drawing was subconscious. While his attention was focused on other activities, Jarrod’s hand would be busy transferring his thoughts to paper.

“Jarrod’s doodles quickly became elaborate,” remembers his mother, Kuhoo. “By the time he was five, Jarrod was creating prolific, abstract artwork on just about any surface he could find.” Read More...



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