Programs and Services
SW FL PODS Angels provides programs and services to improve the quality of life for individuals with Down syndrome and their families. PODS Angels serves over 800 families caring for a loved one with Down syndrome in South Florida area on both sides of the state line.
The following is a comprehensive list of PODS Angels services:
24-Hour Phone Information Line: Anyone in the community can access our phone information line at 239-872-4778 to hear information about support group meetings around the area, programs, services, events, research studies, fundraisers, volunteer opportunities and age-specific events offered for individuals with Down syndrome.
FIRST CONTACT: An Expectant Parent Packet provided to all local physicians/ Hospitals who may provide a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome. Accurate and positive information on Down syndrome is presented with suggested reading materials and adoption resources. Individuals can also call PODS Angels to request copies of the packet.
New Parent: Families can request a parent to parent visit or phone call, a free copy of the book Babies with Down Syndrome and have their names added to our mailing list. SW FL PODS Angels works cooperatively with local hospitals and physicians to distribute approximately 100 packets each year.
Therapeutic Riding: Riding horses for therapeutic purposes has helped children with a very wide range of disabilities, including Autism Spectrum Disorder, substance abuse, Multiple Sclerosis, Muscular Dystrophy, amputation, developmental disorders, spinal cord injury, brain injury, Cerebral Palsy, seizure disorders, visual and hearing impairment, learning disorders, emotional problems, anxiety disorder, behavioral problems, and other problems. Riding horses improves muscle tone, balance, posture, motor coordination, concentration, self-confidence, and self-esteem.
Equine Therapy can be tailored to individual needs, such as developing specific exercises to target specific muscles, and stretch, tone, and strengthen those muscles. The rocking motion of a horse's gait mimics the natural movement of the pelvis during walking, so riding trains the body to move in the correct way, and to develop muscles and coordination that will assist in standing and walking.
Nonverbal children are encouraged to use words to tell the horse what to do. Once a child begins to use the appropriate words, including the horse's name, they gain confidence, which leads to further speech development. Learning how to appropriately interact with the horse also teaches a child invaluable tools for developing social skills with the humans in their world.
Once a child becomes empowered and confident, this attitude is apparent in their outward demeanor. They will find that people around them will perceive them differently, on more equal terms, regardless of whether they are sitting in a wheelchair or have a history of emotional problems. And one of the best things about Equine Therapy is the fact that a child forgets that he or she is working hard because their therapy is so much fun!
Adoption is an Option: Not all parents find they can raise a child with Down syndrome. We are here to help you with all options from conception to delivery and beyond.
Parent to Parent Network: As soon as PODS Angels is informed of a new baby with Down syndrome, a parent from our network contacts the new parents to offer support, friendship and information on how to receive support from PODS Angels and other local resources.
Connections: A newsletter, is disseminated to 1,200 recipients in South Floirda. Each edition holds inspirational stories, upcoming PODS Angels events, community group activity listings, current research findings, pertinent medical information, Dad’s Corner articles and organizational notes.
Resource Library: Books, videos and brochures about Down syndrome available on loan at no cost. SW FL PODS Angels maintains approximately 100 titles available to families.
List of Local Resources: Lists of available services for families of individuals with Down syndrome. The PODS Angels staff maintains an accurate and up-to-date listing of convenient and necessary resources.
Parent Support Groups: Monthly informational meetings for parents of individuals with Down syndrome. The meetings feature guest speakers and panels of peer families to lead discussions on topics such as health care, education, wills and trusts, behavior management, legal rights, transitions and potty training. PODS Angels currently supports three groups meeting in various locations in South Florida.
Conference Scholarships: PODS Angels offers financial funding for families to attend other local and national conferences that will benefit their family.
Seminars and Workshops: PODS Angels hosts seminars and workshops throughout the year as requested by PODS Angels members. Past events include the NUTS and BULTS; IDEA 101, where families learned how to navigate the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and Talk Tools Oral/Motor/Speech Therapy seminar where parents and therapists learned how to enhance speech for individuals with Down syndrome.
Social Events: PODS Angels hosts several events each year for all members to come together and share common interests and values. Among these are: Easter Eggstravaganza, featuring an EGG-CITING Easter Egg Hunt, FAMILY FESTIVAL, Annual BUDDY WALK Picnic, Holiday Party and Angel gatherings. Families look forward to these events as an opportunity to network and share information and resources with one another.
Birthday Club Program: (NEW) Everyone loves to be remembered on their special day. PODS Angels sends out a birthday greeting to each individual with Down syndrome in our database during their birthday month. It’s our special way of reminding them how much PODS Angels loves them.
Infant/Pre-School Group: Playgroups and fieldtrips to provide socialization opportunities for children with Down syndrome and peer group support for their parents. Activities in conjunction with our local Early Steps program.
Elementary Group: Activities designed to educate, entertain and provide a healthy social environment for children with Down syndrome and their families. Scheduled group outings present opportunities for parents to work with their children on behavior management, inclusion and socialization. Activities will include Children’s Museum, Horseback riding, Sunsplash, The Naples City Zoo and more.
Teen Group: Independent social opportunities for teenagers with Down syndrome. This program offers a safe social environment for teenagers with Down syndrome to interact with each other and teenagers without Down syndrome. Parents are encouraged not to attend so that the teenagers may develop independent skills. Activities include miniature golf, movies, bowling, dances, pottery-painting parties, horseback riding, skating and more.
Adult Group: The gatherings for adults with Down syndrome includes meeting for dinner, movies, parties and dances. The group also meets for workshops on independent living skills to help them manage the responsibilities of being an adult.
If you have questions about South West PODS Angels Family Support Group, Inc. programs and services, or would like to make a suggestion for a new program, please call Mary 239-872-4778 or Nancy 954-612-2997