The 2016 Special Olympics Soccer Season Begins

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OCA Special Olympics Athlete, Josue, practices his foot skills around the cones. 


OCA’s Special Olympics Soccer Season began last week with a great turnout of participants even through the cold weather. The players came on the field prepared and excited to begin the 2016 season. This year will be featuring four teams: two Unified teams that play in Division 3 and Division 2, and two Traditional teams with the Seniors and Masters.

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Diego shows off his agility skills on the field.

Practices for these four teams are held Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3:30 p.m. till 5:00 p.m. There is also Skills practice on Wednesdays from 3:30 p.m. till 4:15 p.m. for participants to learn beginner-soccer skills or improve on their advanced-skills as well. Coach Jim and Coach Sabrina will be holding these practices with several of OCA’s Unified partners throughout the season.

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Jesse launches a big kick towards the goal.


During the practices, the team runs drills to work on endurance training through sprints, skills training using cones, and communication training through a team effort during scrimmages. Not only are the players building on their athletic and social skills, they are doing what is most important at OCA, which is having fun with their teammates.

On Saturday, January 23rd, OCA coaches and participants attended a Special Olympics Area 7 Coaches Training Workshop at Freedom High School in Winter Garden. Here, the attendees learned new techniques for training athletes in all Unified sports. They were shown new drills to implement with the participants that include bringing Ultimate Frisbee into play to enhance soccer skills. Within the season’s first two weeks, OCA’s Special Olympics soccer teams are off to a strong, promising start.Blog 4


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The OCA Show S2E4

The OCA ShowWe’re back!!  The holidays are over and we have a lot of new events, clubs and announcements at OCA!  Check out the newest episode and learn what’s happening at OCA, watch Julian give a Special Olympics update and more!!

Click Here to Watch!

The OCA Show Preview


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OCA Art Featured in Gallery Show at Rollins


Ben’s Landscape- Magazine Print Collage

Today at OCA some of the participants in our AVT (Adult Vocational Training) Main Campus program and staff had the honor of attending an Art Gallery Show at Rollins College.  Hosted by Rollins RCC and headed by Professor Rachel Simmons, Dr. Anne Stone, Marissa Corrente & Meredith Ewen, the gallery show included art created by OCA participants as well as Rollins students.

Ward Hall

The Rollins Art Gallery Show was held in Ward Hall

As our OCA bus arrived at Rollins, the participants were enthralled by the beauty and excitement of being on a college campus, some for the first time ever!  Once we arrived at Ward Hall, we were greeted warmly by the Rollins RCC students and staff.  OCA Executive Director spoke with everyone about the incredible experience our participants have had working with OCA Art Club Leader and Rollins Bonner Leader, Meredith Ewen to prepare for the show.

20151202_093151_HDRWe then had the opportunity to walk around the gallery and look at the art work.  As the adult participants found their work displayed for everyone to see, they were proud and full of smiles that their work was being shared and enjoyed by everyone there.  Many of the participants were excited to see the variety of art that the Rollins students had in the show and appreciated being exposed to other forms of art.  The Rollins students did a great job interacting with the OCA adult participants and it was a terrific opportunity for the adults to work on their communication and social skills.

20151202_093908_HDR20151202_100245_HDRAfter looking at the art we were all treated to a wonderful brunch.  This provided our adult participants with an opportunity to work on their etiquette and functional living skills as each of us walked through the buffet line, making our own plate and choosing what we wanted to eat.  As we ate our breakfast in the social room of Ward Hall, we got to experience a typical college activity of socialization and discussing which art pieces we enjoyed seeing.

The entire experience at the Rollins Art Gallery Show was such a great opportunity for each of our adult participants to focus on their many abilities while having a typical experience in our community.  A huge thank you to everyone who played a part in making this happen- YOU made a difference in the life of someone with special needs!!  To see all of the photos from today’s Art Gallery Show, click HERE.


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OCA Staff Goes to See the Solar Bears

Today at OCA we send our thanks and gratitude to Wells Fargo!!

20151022_190722_resizedEveryone needs a break every once in a while.  Last night myslef and some of our OCA Staff spent time together celebrating our hard work by getting together and cheering on the Orlando Solar Bear’s Hockey team; thanks to Wells Fargo, who graciously donated their Club Box.


The Orlando Solar Bears played against the Norfolk Admirals.  Patrick Watling’s short-handed goal 4 minutes, 49 seconds into the third period broke a tie, and the Orlando Solar Bears went on to a 6-3 victory against the Norfolk Admirals.  Our OCA staff did an amazing job cheering them onto victory!!20151022_191022_resized

We all enjoyed living it up in style, while in great company.  There was laughter and cheers, and the relaxation that we all needed.  So often we get caught up in the day-to-day of working here at OCA. We
focus on our job every day and while we find 20151022_190959_resizedjoy in making the smallest changes in other’s lives; with a smile, an encouraging word, or helping hand, it was great to have a break and get to know our co-workers a little better while watching the excitement happening on the ice.

20151022_191241_resized20151022_204608_resizedLast night was a treat because we work so hard and needed a little celebration.  Watching the game with our co-workers allowed us to spend a few hours focusing on ourselves and to focus on the joy of working with such a great team.  If you didn’t know, OCA is a great place to work.


Don’t we all need to be celebrated sometimes?  Yes, yes we do. Thanks Wells Fargo & OCA for the much needed staff respite!

Ashley N.
OCA School Age Coordinator

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OCA Bowl-a-thon a Striking Success!!

Today at OCA we would like to thank everyone who attended, sponsored, volunteered, and supported OCA for our 2nd Annual Bowl-a-thon.  It was a fun and exciting event for our families and community partners. Aloma Bowl was full to capacity with all 32 lanes occupied and over 200 guests in attendance.


OCA’s silent auction featured over 60 great items

Fundraising Chair Beni Negron and her team put on an amazing silent auction with over 60 items for patrons to bid on.  With a variety of selections ranging from golf packages, a BBQ grill, theater tickets, resort vacations, theme park tickets, jewelry, restaurant gift cards, to an autographed Blake Bortles jersey.  There was something for everyone to bid on!!


OCA is blessed to have such amazing volunteers!

While each of our 32 bowling teams enjoyed bowling and spending time with their family and teammate, volunteers from Bishop Moore High School, Rollins College; including the Bonner’s Leaders and the JUMP program & the Winter Park High School Beta Club served them pizza and refreshments.  In addition, the volunteers helped check-in bowling teams, assign bid numbers, sell 50/50 raffle tickets, clean up and much more.  A special thank you to all of our volunteers!!

DSC_0080Another special component to the event was that the adults in OCA’s AVT- Main & West Campus’ handcrafted all of the door prizes for the Bowl-a-thon.  Each adult used their own talent and ability in making these unique items, which included hand painted coaster sets, etched glassware, seasonal candle holders, gemstone accented jewelry and much more.  These items are also sold each Friday at the Windermere Farmer’s Market and in the ShopOCA section of our website: or by emailing for an order form.

As a fundraising incentive, each bowling team was given a list of prizes for the teams that raised the most money.  The results were:  1st place- Evan Pryor’s High Fivers- raising $1970; 2nd place- We’ve been Framed- $1475 and 3rd place OCA Staff- $1200.  Way to go bowling teams!!!


The Frame families’ bowling team We’ve Been Framed raised $1,475 for OCA!!

Every year OCA likes to recognize parents, community sponsors and businesses for their continued support to OCA.  The following awards were given out during the Bowl-a-thon:


Spirit Award Recipient, Tracy volunteers her time on OCA’s Fundraising Team and helps out  wherever there is a need at OCA.

The Spirit Award is an award that is presented to those individuals that have been lifted up by the Spirit of OCA, making it a daily goal to share the joy with members of their family and community.  These individuals bring the energy to our program that makes it possible to keep going. They carry a gift of commitment, compassion, and determination for all that is right.  This year’s recipients were:  Donna Barley, Tracy Lattanzi and Shelly Langdon.


The Siemens Team supplied OCA with an overwhelming supply of items for Summer Camp.

Eagle Pride Award– This is a business selected for their demonstration of pride and commitment and wanting to ensure that children with special needs have all of the opportunities to be successful this year in our summer camp. They believed in their efforts of making OCA a place where every member of our community is welcomed and embraced as part of not only our family, but theirs. They go above and beyond to tell the world how great life can be when we all work together toward a common goal.  By holding a special place in their heart for OCA and our goals, these individuals make OCA a special place for special needs.   This year’s recipient was Siemens Corporation.


First Baptist of Windermere hosts OCA’s new AVT West on their campus.

Eagle Soar Award-The SOAR Award is given to an individual or businesses whose efforts help our participants soar towards their dreams and goals.  These efforts demonstrate a reverence for dignity, independence, and personal strength, like the mighty eagle.  This year’s recipient has been committed to OCA not only on a personal level but a spiritual level.  This year’s recipient was First Baptist of Windermere.

Dave Cocchiarella volunteered his time to emcee for OCA’s Bowl-a-thon

The highlight to the event was that OCA raised over $45,000 to go towards our programming.  Thank you to our emcee Dave Cocchiarella, photographer Steve Waddall, Tarsus Hunt of Millennium Team Sports for donating all of our volunteer t-shirts, and to all of our corporate sponsors: Avertt, Warmus and Durkee, Binca Imaging Group, Dr. Darwin Clark, Eola Technology Partners, Fusilier Realty Group, Hoyt and Bryan Attorneys at Law, MLC Theming, PCL Construction, Squareberry, The Spine and Scoliosis Center and Wells Fargo.  A very special shout out to our families who help make the day a huge success!!

Check out all of the photos from this amazing event by clicking HERE.

Silvia Haas
Executive Director
OCA: Opportunity, Community, Ability, Inc.


Thanks to everyone for making the 2nd annual OCA Bowl-a-thon a striking success!!

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AVT West Works at Chili’s

Chilis 2Today at OCA, it’s the start of a new week and excitement sets in as our AVT (adult vocational
training) West participants prepared themselves for work this early Monday morning.  Our destination: Chili’s.

My co-worker, Kaylon and I pack in our cars with participants to transport them to their work site.  They were eager to arrive, dressed in their elegant OCA polos.  Aldo (a newer participant) expressed his excitement by telling us how much he really likes Chili’s!


Smiles set in as we arrived at our destination. Evan practically hopped out as soon as we parked!  While there, the Chili’s employees were incredibly nice and attentive to our needs. We worked to replace kiosk batteries, and wipe down tables. We finished just in time to get back for our lunch and for Chili’s to open.


After we arrived back at West Campus, we enjoyed our lunch and each other’s company.  Then it was time for Cooking Class.  We learned to follow the recipe and make Mummy Dogs out of hot dogs and biscuits.  This was a great activity to help us get into the fall season.

IMG_0096We ended the day with some circle time that gave everyone the chance to socialize with their peers and discuss what a fun, successful day we had!

Enrique L.
AVT West Lead Staff
OCA: Opportunity, Community, Ability, Inc.


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OCA Starts New Art Club

Today at OCA Meredith, a Rollins College Bonner Leader who volunteers for OCA, tells us about OCA’s newest addition to our programming, the OCA Art Club!!  Meredith works at our main campus with our AVT (Adult Vocational Training), Early Intervention & After School participants.  Check out what Meredith has to say….
Art Club

Greetings, OCA families! As some of you may have noticed from the projects going home with your participants, OCA has recently introduced an Art Club on Thursdays.  I am a Rollins College freshman majoring in the Art department and a Bonner Leader.  A part of the Bonner Program is to choose local non-profit organizations to spend time volunteering at in order to enhance community engagement.  Apart from being immersed in the art world, I have also been very active with special needs my entire life, working with organizations like Nathaniel’s Hope and Quest, inc. So, as we have just wrapped up our fourth week in the Art Club, I was asked to share a little bit of what we have been doing and how the participants have been reacting.


Meredith working with After Schooler Tina on an art project

Since the first day that I started in the program the participants have been all about Halloween, so naturally I have been tailoring these projects to be about Halloween. I incorporated elements such as pumpkins, spiders, the trees as the seasons change, and then also offering an option for those who don’t wish to make these, just to make sure that everyone remains engaged. As we have been on this short journey being engaged in art, I have had the wonderful opportunity to watch as these participants grow with their abilities and grow with their confidence as they make amazing pieces. Participants such as Ian and Ben are just a couple of examples of how the arts have changed these individuals- Ian now proudly displays his finished works and Ben has transitioned from having an aversion to the projects to sitting down for an entire class to participate. Along with the participants that have improved, there are also participants that have consistently been superb- participants such as Lauren, Tina, Steven, and Phoebe, who always are enthusiastic about the work we are doing and aren’t afraid to create as they please.


Drawing is one of Phoebe’s favorite art projects!

This week we worked on creating images that go along with our favorite aspects of fall- many image including examples of pumpkins and bats.(For early intervention we painted with spaghetti!!) And although the subject matter didn’t change, I feel as if the participants are finally getting used to


Painting with spaghetti is a great sensory integration activity- and lots of fun!

how I design projects and are becoming proud of what they make. Some of the participants also started approaching their creations from a more independent perspective as they began to create things themselves instead of asking others to do it for them- like Marina, who thought she couldn’t draw a bat but realized “I could draw that without you.”


Marina proudly displays the pumpkins she made

Overall, the Art Club has been going greatly and I intend for it to continue to grow and refine itself to provide the best experiences possible for these participants!

Meredith E.
Rollins College Bonner Leader
OCA Art Club Lead

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