Children First: Mission Moment March 2019

Boy sliding down green slide with big smile on his face
Children playing with trains together

Video Transcript

Speaker 1:

So every year about this time, Wendy Harris sends a report to United Way with the outcomes for all the children. And she also asks for a success story that she can send along with it. And the success can be either for a child, for a family, regarding challenges they may have faced, and success that they’ve had over the course of the year. So my first thought right away was about Mason, who’s a little man in our purple classroom. He has health and developmental challenges that he is faced with. And over the course of the year, I’ve heard teachers talking about him at staffings and in conversations about the progress that he’s made.

Speaker 2:

When Mason first came into our classroom, it was chaotic. We had a lot of kids. He had come from a classroom of 8:00. So he wasn’t used to all the noise and the hectic and all the kids running around. And it was a lot scary for me because I had never had an autistic child like Mason.

Speaker 1:

So this is a letter that we received from Laura Hackle, and after receiving it, I sent it to Wendy and it was sent to many other people. I’d like to read it to you now. “I began working with Mason as his occupational therapist at Children First in North Port in early 2018, shortly after his third birthday. Mason has a rare genetic anomaly that has significantly affected his health and development from birth. Some of the issues affecting Mason’s ability to thrive in preschool included, severe difficulty with sensory modulation and emotional regulation, a very short attention span, low muscle tone, and severely limited social and communication skills.”

Speaker 2:

When Mason tries to transition in the beginning of the school year, it was a battle. He didn’t want to clean up, he didn’t want to come circle time, small group, anything like that. And he would literally throw himself on the floor. He would scream, he would cry. Not every day, but the majority of the time.

Speaker 3:

At this point in the year, I feel Mason has made a lot of progress. He comes sometimes to small group, which in the beginning he really didn’t join us at all. He comes to large group a lot. He loves to help, get ready for lunch and help clean. He loves to get the spray bottles and go clean stuff up. He cleans up his messes, a lot of times on his own and even more when you help him. So I think he’s made a lot of progress from the beginning of the year.

Speaker 2:

The way we got Mason to be able to handle the situation of the chaos of the classroom, the noise, the transition, is we gave him a lot of jobs. At lunchtime, he likes to put the milks out. He also enjoys to ring the bell, do the lights. So we try to get him more and more involved and give him jobs himself.

Speaker 3:

I am really excited for him to get a lot more of those life skills that he’ll be learning. They’ll be working with him and mom more, taking trips to the store and everything. So I think it’ll be really beneficial for Mason.

Speaker 1:

“I’m telling this story because I believe that Mason’s experience at Children First has dramatically improved the trajectory of his early development. Of course, it takes a village. Mason’s family and medical team have also worked diligently to give him the best possible opportunity to thrive. However, the changes I’ve seen from his early preschool experience to now are significant and the result of consistent dedication and hard work.

Mason still faces challenges that other children do not. He will need support as he enters VPK and may well have need of further support as he enters elementary school. Yet the skills he has gained in the past year, have enabled him to participate alongside typically developing peers in both learning activities and play. The ability to participate alongside his peers is one of the biggest predictors of success as Mason enters school. I cannot emphasize how much Mason’s team at Children First have contributed to the skills he is now developing, skills that he will carry through his lifetime.”

So thinking about Mason’s successes over the course of the year made me really reflect on the mission of Children First. Laura also mentioned the African proverb in her letter, it takes a village to raise a child, and for Mason, the village was Children First. Through his doctors, his parent, the teachers, special needs coordinators, therapists, we all work together to strengthen his life. And I think it’s really important that everyone reflect on why we’re here and what we do. And the mission statement, we are here to strengthen children and families through a comprehensive approach to development, education, health, and well-being.