The company name, Fireflies Academy, was born from Mrs. Stathoulopoulos’ experience in Special Education. Frustrated by the segregation of children with special needs into corner/basement classrooms, in elective classes, and in the lunchroom, Mrs. Stathoulopoulos strove for integration of her students. When one of her students chose to write a persuasive piece on why there should be more physical education in NYC schools, she implemented boot camp breaks of Tae Kwon Do, yoga, break dancing, and dance in between periods in her classroom. The resulting academic focus and progress astounded her, the children, and the staff. When she discovered the negative stereotypes of children with autism – being described as empty shells with no affect, eye contact, or social abilities – Mrs. Stathoulopoulos endeavored upon taking the results seen in her classroom into the field and founded FirefliesNY with a simple craigslist.org advertisement. Within 24 hours of placing the advertisement, she had landed her 1st client. She believes that if you can just tap into their potential, children with neurodevelopmental disabilities/autism can light up a room like little fireflies in the night – just as they do when they step onto the mats in the FirefliesNY dojang. FirefliesNY was an integrated childhood autism therapy program which used Tae Kwon Do as a vehicle to help children with autism to communicate their needs/wants, develop a sense of mind-body awareness in order to have physical confidence to function within society, and to develop the social skills needed to live amongst, and be accepted by society. FirefliesNY achieved these holistic goals during inclusionary sessions by blending Tae Kwon Do, music/movement, balance, stretching, and breathing exercises all guided by Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA); ABA being the only scientifically proven treatment for autism at the time.
Mrs. Stathoulopoulos launched Fireflies Academy in October of 2022, in her continued belief that if you can just tap into the potential of a child with neurodoversities/ ASD (autism spectrum disorder)/ADHD, they can light up the world like fireflies in the night.
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