Regional Notebook: Feb. 13, 2023

Published: 02-12-2023 2:00 PM

Autism Conference to feature in-person and online options

SPRINGFIELD — The 32nd annual Autism Conference hosted by Autism Connections is scheduled for April 27. To ensure accessibility to all, the event will be hybrid, with an in-person portion at the Sheraton Monarch Place Hotel in Springfield and the online portion via Socio.

The day-long educational conference brings together agency and education professionals, families, parents, caregivers, individuals with autism, sponsors and exhibitors to build knowledge and make connections.

The keynote speakers this year are Jennifer O’Toole, bestselling author and the “autism expert” on the Netflix series “Love on the Spectrum U.S.,” and Andrew Arboe, founder of Driving with Autism, which specializes in helping autistic drivers and their families pursue driving as a transportation option. There are several breakout sessions to choose from, as well as an exhibitor hall for those who come in person.

For more information or to register, visit autismconnectionsma.org.

Civil Air Patrol cadets earns milestone awards

AMHERST — Two Franklin County residents recently earned promotions and achievement awards for their involvement with the Brig. Gen. Arthur J. Pierce Cadet Squadron of Civil Air Patrol, the civilian, volunteer auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force.

Having completed the requirements for the Wright Brothers Award, Sunderland resident Elwin Binu, 15, was promoted to cadet staff sergeant.

“Cadet Binu is one of our best cadets,” Maj. Steve Lauzon, the squadron’s commanding officer, said in a statement. “He strives for excellence in every action.”

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The Wright Brothers Award, named after aviation pioneers Orville and Wilbur Wright, is a milestone in Civil Air Patrol. It marks the end of a cadet’s learning phase and places them in the program’s leadership phase. Binu had to pass a written leadership exam and a physical fitness test, as well as demonstrate proficiency in a drill and ceremonies. The leadership phase that Binu is entering entails leading and teaching other members of the aviation-focused program.

Also promoted was Greenfield resident Nathaniel Johnston, 15. Having earned the 1st Lt. Willa Brown Award, named after the first Black woman to earn a pilot’s license in the United States, Johnston was promoted to cadet 1st lieutenant. He is now the unit’s cadet commanding officer.

BHN picked as partner to help MassHealth members

SPRINGFIELD — Behavioral Health Network, an agency providing behavioral health services to children and families across western Massachusetts, has been designed by the state as one of 20 Community Partners for a five-year term to support MassHealth members with significant behavioral health and complex long-term needs.

As a Community Partner, BHN will work with regional Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) to support and coordinate care for MassHealth members, including children, youth and adults with disabilities, mental illness, substance use disorders, and co-occurring disorders and conditions. An ACO is a group of doctors, hospitals and other health care providers that work together with a goal of delivering better care to members and improving the population’s health. As a lead agency, BHN will oversee a network of providers, pooling resources, staff and expertise from BHN, WestMass ElderCare and the Stavros Center for Independent Living.

“We are thrilled to continue this critical support and coordination service for our most vulnerable residents,” Steve Winn, president and CEO of BHN, said in a statement. “We are grateful to our partners at Stavros and WMEC for joining in this effort, and grateful that this expansion program includes children and youth as well as adults.”

By expanding access to mental health and addiction treatment over the last three years, the Community Partners program has resulted in a reduction in emergency room visits by 21%, a reduction in behavioral health admissions by 30% and a reduction in risk-adjusted total cost of care by 20%.

Six local students named to Endicott Dean’s List

Six Franklin County students have been named to the Dean’s List at Endicott College in Beverly for the fall semester. They are:

Engineering major Nathan Mousseau, son of Stacey Mousseau and Gabriel Mousseau of Bernardston; nursing major Sydney Unaitis, daughter of Dana Unaitis and Christin Unaitis of Greenfield; events management major Isabelle Spooner, daughter of Christina Spooner and Karl Spooner of Orange; liberal studies and education major Clarese Gardiner, daughter of Melissa Stetson and John Gardiner of South Deerfield; interior architecture major Elise Friedrichs, daughter of Beth Roberge and Joseph Friedrichs of Sunderland; and nursing major Dominique Whitney, daughter of Michelle Kennedy-Whitney of Whately.

To qualify for the Dean’s List, a student must obtain a minimum grade point average of 3.5, receive no letter grade below a C, have no withdrawal grades and be enrolled in at least 12 credits for the semester.

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