Grand Marshal – by Isabel Trower

One of our members, Isabel Trower was recently the Grand Marshal for a Christmas parade. She was kind enough to share her experience with us.

“I was the Grand Marshal.  I was throwing candy and bracelets to the people.  The people were smiling and waving at me.  I was singing Frozen.  I was with my family, and I could see my friends. I am so happy people went to the parade and then I get to go to a restaurant.”

Holiday Traditions – by Lindsey, Abeo and Grace

What is the best part of the Holiday season to you? Does your family have traditions that you look forward to each year and hope to carry on with your own family? We thought it would be appropriate to the season to ask some of our self-advocate office volunteers to share how their families celebrate the Holiday Season.


1. How does your family celebrate the holidays?

Lindsey: I like to open gifts on Christmas Day with my family and celebrate on New Year’s Eve the best!

Abeo: Kwanzaa is my tradition. This year it starts December 26 and goes until January 1.

Grace: I love to stay home with my family. We wake up in the morning and open gifts from Santa and family. Then we eat dinner later.

2. What is your favorite holiday tradition?

Lindsey: We celebrate Christmas and the New Year. We go to a different person in my family’s house every year.

Abeo: We celebrate Kwanzaa. We sit together, light a candle and for seven days we pray and talk about our ancestors.

Grace: We celebrate Christmas. My family stays home, hangs out and does something together.

3. What do the holidays mean to you?

Lindsey: I love being with my family and enjoying company at different houses. Even during Christmas, I’m looking forward to Cardinals season, and hanging out with my dogs Bentley and Oscar.

Abeo: Kwanzaa helps us study our history. We learned that in Africa people dressed up, put bowls on their head to dance, carried their babies on their backs and loved to cook. African culture is different, and I like it.

Grace: Christmas is my favorite time of year.  To me it is a time to do something special like hangout with our families and friends.

Meet the New Face at the DSAGSL – by Abby Brandon


I’m originally from Morton, IL, known as the Pumpkin Capital of the World – yes, really. I attended Saint Louis University (GO BILLIKENS!) and there I studied Business Administration with an emphasis in International Business.  I’d always known I wanted to do something that would allow me to make a positive difference in the world around me, but I wasn’t sure how I would do that. My senior year, I had the great opportunity to intern at the DSAGSL and from then on, I knew that I wanted to have a career in the nonprofit industry. I continued to volunteer with the DSAGSL Art Club for Adults after my semester as an intern ended, and I loved it! After I graduated, I had the great opportunity to do some temporary work as an Events Coordinator at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center. I really enjoy doing events; it can be challenging at times but it’s so rewarding.  I have loved being a part of the DSAGSL as an intern and volunteer and couldn’t be more thrilled to be an employee! I can’t wait to meet all the awesome volunteers and be a part of all the great events the DSAGSL has! In my free time, I love cooking, traveling, and cheering on the Cardinals, the Chicago Bears, and of course the Billikens!

Holiday Toy Resources – by Christy Klaus

It is the time of year when parents are on the search for gift ideas for their child with special needs.  Even more stress is added when grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends need gift ideas as well.  Some of our favorite games have been Zingo, Uno, Monopoly Jr., Life (electronic version), Go Fish, Headbands and Twister.

Here are a few links with ideas for toys.  Also, don’t forget about things like movie tickets, restaurant gift certificates, special outing with a family member or friend and favorite snacks.

24 Great Toys for Kids Who Don’t Play with Toys
Toy Guide for Differently Abled Kids
10 Toys Great for Kids with Special Needs
Melissa and Doug – Toys for Special Needs