SEDOL Foundation Programs: So Many Ways to Help

The list of physical, mental and emotional disabilities served by SEDOL’s resources is long, and includes…

ADD/ADHD, Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome, Blindness or Vision Impairment, Cerebral Palsy, Deafness/Hard of Hearing, Developmental Disabilities and Mental Retardation, Down Syndrome, Epilepsy, Feeding Issues, Mitochondrial Diseases, Sensory Integration Disorder, Speech Disorders, Spina Bifida.

The Foundation serves Lake County, IL children and their families struggling with these conditions by providing both direct and indirect support. Many of the families we serve have annual incomes of less than $15,000, and even small efforts have the potential to make a big difference.

These are some of the ways in which we help...

Adaptive Equipment & Devices

Advances in technology have yielded remarkable benefits for the disabled. Many of these advances – often in the form of electro-mechanical assistive and adaptive devices - have been integrated into the daily lives of special needs children and significantly improve their quality of life. These tools enable them to communicate, learn, work, play, and function more effectively, easily and enjoyably.

Unfortunately, the cost of some technological advances and medical aids is beyond the means of many individuals and often is not covered by insurance or other forms of public assistance. Through the SEDOL Foundation’s Adaptive Equipment Lending Library, various kinds of equipment and devices are provided to students and their families for use in the classroom and at home.

The Lending Library has been an important initiative, but SEDOL has thousands of special needs students and the Foundation is often limited in its ability to provide equipment for use outside the classroom. This is due to the fact that several students may use the same piece of equipment at different times of the day. The Foundation’s goal is to continue purchasing and maintaining these devices in the Lending Library, and placing it where it will be of greatest use: in the hands, homes, and everyday lives of special needs children.

Services for Deaf and Hard of Hearing

Signing Classes for Families and Language Facilitators

The SEDOL Foundation supports beginner, intermediate and advanced sign language classes (once each week, 8-week sessions), as well as funding language facilitators. These classes are open to the student, parents and siblings. It has been said that nationwide, only 15% of the parents of deaf students ever learn to sign, and deaf high school graduates on average are only reading at the 4th grade level. It seems clear that teaching the parents and siblings of the deaf to sign is the single most important thing they can do for them.


More than 400 children in SEDOL’s care have been identified with partial or complete hearing loss. The cost of hearing aids – typically $1,500 to $6,000 – is prohibitive for most families. However, through a generous restricted grant made by a Foundation board chair David Raye and his Lake Forest family, the “Help Them to Hear” fund provides assistance to the many families that don’t qualify for state funds. The grant served as the seed money used to start the “Help Them To Hear” technology development and implementation program at SEDOL’s Audiological Services Department in Gages Lake.

This program aims at creating a system for identifying children who may otherwise not get the help they need, and making sure they are fitted with hearing aids or other technology. This will enable them to develop speaking, reading and other skills, not to mention the enjoyment of a happy, healthy childhood that each young person deserves.

Other individuals and businesses in Lake County are welcome and encouraged to add to the restricted fund, with all donations going straight to helping local school children enjoy enhanced learning and quality of life.

Classroom and Social Initiatives

Literacy Rich Environment Classroom Library Project

Every SEDOL classroom is a literacy environment thanks in part to the SEDOL Foundation. The main purpose of creating a library in each classroom is to provide appropriate books for SEDOL students to use during independent reading time, thereby increasing daily independent reading. Research indicates that even the most reluctant reader can become an avid reader when introduced to the right book. This goal has been achieved by providing easily accessible, high-interest reading materials.

Each classroom library has a selection of books and magazines including: reference materials, a wide range of reading levels, multicultural books, popular titles, fiction, science, nonfiction, mysteries and poetry.

Music Enrichment for Autistic Students

Music therapy is a well-established allied health profession similar to occupational or physical therapy. It consists of using music therapeutically to address behavioral, social, psychological, communicative, physical, sensory-motor and/or cognitive functioning.

For individuals with diagnosis on the autism spectrum, music therapy provides a unique variety of music experiences in an intentional and developmentally appropriate manner to effect changes in behavior and facilitate development of skills.

Music therapy enhances one’s quality of life, involving relationships between the individual; between the individual and his/her family; and between the music and the participants. These relationships are structured and adapted through the elements of music to create a positive environment and set the occasion for successful growth.

Job Opportunities for All (JOFA)

Students with significant cognitive and medical needs have very limited access to “real jobs.” The SEDOL Foundation has funded the start up costs for young adults with severe/profound deficits to become active participants in their selected work environment. These students are running a dog biscuit business and a cookie baking business that are now both self-sustaining.

Bears Wives Holiday Party

In December the Chicago Bears wives, in conjunction with the SEDOL Foundation, organize a holiday party for the students at Gages Lake and Sally Potter Schools. The students participate in a pizza lunch followed by art and crafts time, Q &A sessions with the players and a chance to try on the player’s equipment. Each student leaves with a goodie bag for their parents, as well as a goodie bag for themselves from the Bears organization.

Support Groups

The SEDOL Foundation sponsors support groups and informational networks for the families of children with special needs. Examples are…

CUFF (“Connecting & Uniting for Friendship”)

Nurtures friendships and self-esteem by bringing together high-functioning autistic and Asperger’s kids during after school hours.

“Grandparents Raising Children”

Provides ways for grandparents raising special needs children to connect with one another. Whether chatting by phone, face-to-face or via email, members of the group find friendship, empathy and problem solving by networking with others who are facing similar challenges.

Summer Camp Scholarships

Foundation scholarships make it possible for financially strapped families to send their special needs children to a summer day camp. It also provides the families of these children a much-needed break during the summer months from the caring of a disabled child.

Families select a suitable camp or program from local park districts, special recreation associations, or other sources. Each year, the Foundation donates more than $100,000 to camp scholarships, and over 250 disabled children each summer have enjoyed the special and recreational benefits of a summer camp experience.

Job Training and Assistance

Our goal for every challenged child is to help them, whenever possible, to function as independent adults. Some have disabilities that are simply too profound to ever allow them to join the workforce. However, for many SEDOL students, the transition from school to work may be difficult, but ultimately achievable with the right support.

Most young people feel pressure and anxiety as they prepare to enter the working world and begin earning their own living. This is particularly true for young people with disabilities, who face many more obstacles when they begin their job training process at age 14. It’s a particularly anxious time, filled with fear and uncertainty.

The SEDOL Foundation provides support for job training through recognition events aimed at encouraging businesses to hire young adults with special needs, and “job coaches” that work to promote confidence and the use of job skills and ensure successful transitions into the working world.

These local companies have been and continue to be instrumental in the process by providing employment to our young people and enriching us all.

Ace Hardware, Libertyville
ASAP Specialties, Gurnee
Bakers Square, Gurnee
Builders Square, Waukegan
Caremark, Inc., Vernon Hills
Dubro Products, Inc., Wauconda
Gurnee Mills Corp., Gurnee
Hollister, Inc., Libertyville
I.D.E.S. Job Service, Waukegan
Jewel Food Stores: Barrington, Gurnee, Libertyville, Waukegan
Kohl’s Department Store, Vernon Hills
Lake County HS Tech Campus, Grayslake
Libertyville Toyota, Libertyville
Manpower Temporary Services: Lake Villa, Vernon Hills, Wauconda, Waukegan
Motorola, Libertyville
Old Country Buffet, Vernon Hills
Piggly Wiggly, Grayslake
Saddleshop, Libertyville
Six Flags Great America, Gurnee
State Farm Insurance, Grayslake
Superior Personnel, Gurnee
T.J. Maxx, Lake Zurich
Target, Lake Zurich
Wal-Mart: Gurnee, Lake Zurich, Round Lake, Vernon Hills

Help special needs children reach their full potential. Support the SEDOL Foundation