Make Gel Pads with Timber Joey

Make Gel Pads with Timber Joey

Want to make a gel pad like Timber Joey, Portland’s soccer team mascot? Sensory items like gel pads help kids with ADHD, autism, and other processing disorders take a calming break, which allows them to focus on learning.

Large spaces like schools … and stadiums … can be particularly over-stimulating for kids with sensory disorders because of the lights, noise, and action that come with being around lots of people.

To make a gel pad for your classroom, or home, you’ll need:

*Clear pencil pouch that zips

*Hair gel

*Sequins, beads, or small toys


*Duct tape

Fill the pencil pouch with hair gel, about half full. Add two pinches of glitter, three pinches of sequins, and other small decorative toys. Super glue (E6000 recommended) the side of the pouch extensively, especially the area around the zipper. Then, seal the pouch on all four sides with duct tape.

Timber Joey, along with Timbers players and staff, in collaboration with The Shadow Project and two Portland Public Schools occupational therapists, recently made gel pads as part of Major League Soccer’s Week of Community Service. Dozens of the gel pads are on their way to Shadow classrooms. And the remaining pads are now available in PGE Park’s guest services center for anyone who needs a time out.

“I think it’s important that we provide this kind of comfort to anybody coming through our doors who needs it so they have a fuller experience at the stadium,” said Timber Joey.




Nike Visits Shadow Kids at Chief Joseph

Nike Visits Shadow Kids at Chief Joseph

The Shadow Project students in Mr. Dale Williams’ room at Chief Joseph Elementary were visited last week by one dozen Nike and Oregon Community Foundation employees. Mr. Williams’ fourth grade students gave their visitors a tour of the sensory space in the learning center, designed by The Shadow Project, and talked about how the fidgets and nubby cushions available help them find focus.

“This is my favorite book,” said fourth-grader Giovanni, opening the print version of Diary of a Worm, and reading a short passage. “I use the fidgets to squeeze to help me concentrate.”

Classmate, Mia, demonstrated the Learning Ally audiobooks that are part of the sensory space.

“Learning Ally helps,” said Mia, as she demonstrated to the visitors how to highlight words and make them bigger on the screen while following the story with her ears. “All of my favorite books are available on these audiobooks. This gives me practice with reading, and helps me in life.”

Mr. Williams noted that all of his fourth graders have made great strides in reading since the audiobooks were made available. “Many of my kids are now reading at least one grade level higher than they were when we started on the audiobooks at the beginning of the school year,” he said. “For my kids who struggle with reading, the impact of having access to audiobooks is extremely powerful.”

All of the students in Mr. Williams’ class have increased their reading fluency since the start of the year, according to recent Diebels test scores.

There are 20 students at Chief Joseph who use the audiobooks to read with their ears, and they have read 9,183 pages, the third highest in Portland Public Schools between the start of school through February.



Thank You, Donors, for a Great Year!

Thank You, Donors, for a Great Year!

Thank you to our donors whose generous support over the holiday season raised nearly $35,000 to equip our children with tools for success in the classroom, and a big thank you to the Willamette Week Give!Guide for a fifth year of successful fundraising!

“Our donors’ generosity will put essential literacy tools into the hands of our struggling students,” said Shadow Founder/Executive Director Christy Scattarella. M.A. “With gifts from the Give!Guide, our end-of-year campaign, corporate matches, and a match from the deLaski Family Foundation, we can provide children in special education innovative ways to succeed in the classroom.”

Thank you also to The Shadow Project’s recent foundation donors and corporate sponsors:

*Nike Community Impact Fund of The Oregon Community Foundation
*Robert D. and Marcia H. Randall Charitable Trust
*OCF Joseph E. Weston Public Foundation
*Spirit Mountain Community Fund

A volunteer initiative piloted by Shadow in the fall of 2016 with the University of Portland, garnered more than 130 classroom hours that benefited Shadow students. Special thanks to Dr. Eric Anctil’s sophomore education majors: Nick, Kiana, Jordyn, and Kimberley, for their help in reading with kids on audiobooks, outfitting sensory spaces, and preparing goal setting materials for teachers.


Said Nick: “I found out recently that I have ADD and I can relate to kids with sensory issues because school never really suited me. I wanted to see what it’s like for other kids who are struggling in school, and how sensory tools help with reading and focus.”


Dogs Inspire Confidence in Struggling Readers

Dogs Inspire Confidence in Struggling Readers

Dogs don’t judge when you read aloud! In honor of The Shadow Project’s namesake, Shadow the dog, whose birthday is Feb. 14, we asked a few of our students with learning challenges how reading to their dog gives them confidence.


Many children with learning challenges such as dyslexia and ADHD, or kids with anxiety, are afraid to read out loud in front of their peers for fear of ridicule. Reading aloud at home nightly is one way to get over this worry, and many Shadow children rely upon their dogs as reading buddies, to boost courage … and reading comprehension.

Fifth grader Mia dislikes reading out loud in class because she reads slow and fears people will laugh if the letters move around on the page, and her words falter.

“I was always nervous to read out loud,” said Mia, 10.

But Milo—one of her two dogs—loves for Mia to read to him.

“She likes reading to the dog because he doesn’t judge,” said Sarah Drummond Hays, Mia’s mom.

Educators say that dogs make great reading partners because they can encourage students with a gentle nudge to keep going, or a paw placed strategically to offer support and enhance focus.

Dogs also have a calming effect that can reduce anxiety, and their quiet presence boosts confidence.

Fifth grader Adam likes to read to his dog, Molly, because she is a good listener … and doesn’t interrupt with questions.

“I just love dogs,” he said.




Shadow Student has “A” in Reading

Shadow Student has “A” in Reading

Shadow kid Johnny, who many of our readers have been following since last spring because of his reading struggles due to severe dyslexia, has transitioned well to middle school, and received an “A” in reading on his most recent report card. Watch Johnny’s story by clicking here.

“Johnny is doing much, much better,” says mom, Rosa, who six months ago was worried about her son’s future. “He is a normal kid. Now, I am not frustrated and worried.”

Rosa had good reason to worry. Two grade levels behind in reading in fifth grade meant Johnny wasn’t keeping up with his peers, which statistically, put him at risk of dropping out of school.

But when The Shadow Project gave Johnny access to Learning Ally’s audiobooks so he could read with his ears, he gained confidence, building his fluency, vocabulary, and decoding skills, which then helped him progress to reading written text. Research has shown that hearing text as it is read can actually boost comprehension not just for children with learning disabilities, but for all budding readers.

“Johnny reads for 30 minutes every night,” says Rosa. “The teachers say he does his homework, and helps other kids, and that he’s a wonderful boy in class.”

Johnny’s helpfulness also extends to Rosa—he helps her with the forms she needs to get going again on her GED—and to other kids with learning challenges. During a Christmas visit with Alex, the boy in The Boy Who Learned Upside Down, Johnny was enthusiastic about sharing his story to inspire other kids to keep trying.

“Johnny loves school,” says Rosa.