Meet Siblings Rachel and Bryson - Our Impact Special Kids Race Partners!
Rachel’s smile is contagious. You can’t help but be energized when you’re around her.
Rachel’s mom Nakesha shares, “Matthew 13:8 comes to mind when I think about Special Kids. When you sow seed on good ground you reap a good harvest…Special Kids is good ground.” Rachel first started at Special Kids when she was three years old. Now 11, she is thriving at Special Kids. “While Rachel started at Special Kids when she was three, when she was old enough to go into the public school system, we tried it but unfortunately it did not work out for Rachel to be there. The Lord put Special Kids back on my heart and I returned Rachel to Special Kids full-time when she was nine years old. Rachel was totally wheel-chair bound two years ago and I had to support her weight 100% when moving her. Now, I can hold Rachel under her arms and she can walk to the bathroom sink herself for example, she can go up and down stairs…it makes me heart leap for joy. Rachel can hold a spoon now as well. As a mom of a special needs child you struggle because you always want to know that your child is taken care of. I am thankful my family is a part of Special Kids. I thank God for the Christian foundation and the things the teachers teach.
“Special Kids is not just a safe place for kids but it’s a safe place for parents. There are times I’ve walked in and teachers will just pray for you. It’s not easy being the parent of a special needs child and a 3-year old as well and we can struggle…I can pour my heart out and they will pour into me and speak God’s word. There’s nowhere else like Special Kids. I am so grateful.”
Rachel’s future nursing goals include, “…for her to have functional communication (wants, needs, likes, dislikes) and to be as independent as possible. For example, propelling her wheelchair, crawling or walking in her walker to the places she wants to go, to feed herself, wash her hands, finding things she thinks are fun, etc.” shares Stephanie, Special Kids Director of Nursing.
In occupational therapy, “Rachel and I have been working in the last few months to help her be independent using a fork or spoon during mealtime. She is doing a great job and loves lunch time!” says her occupational therapist, Rachel. In the future, “Overall, I would love for Rachel to be independent with safely maneuvering her wheelchair through the busy hallways and around her house. I also want to help her be independent in donning her upper body clothing and feeding herself. Rachel is so fun, giggly, and energetic. She’s a ton of fun to work with.”
In speech therapy, her therapist Allison shares, “I really want Rachel to be able to accurately make choices between two objects via a ‘Big Mack’ button. This is a simple switch that I record my voice on and present to her. When she hits it, it plays what is recorded. She will hit the button, but I really want her to be able to match what the button says to the actual object (for example, she hits the button that says ball then reaches for a ball). I also want her to be able to participate in songs and play with her peers by providing parts of songs via the ‘Big Mack’. Rachel has made lots of progress tolerating therapy and engaging more appropriately with various toys.”
Bryson loves big and is a friend to everyone. Bryson is a peer-model in the Special Kids “EQUIP” program here at Special Kids. Equip peer-models are like any other child in a typical preschool program. “One thing that I love about Bryson and about what kids are able to develop as a part of the Equip program here is their love for their friends with disabilities,” shares lead recreational therapist, Tori.
“One word to describe Bryson is love. Bryson has the biggest heart I have ever seen in a three year old. Growing up in a home that loves Jesus and with his sister who has special needs has provided him the opportunity to love without prejudice or judgment. As adults, we tend to be scared of what we don’t know or understand and often pass on that fear to our kids. Bryson has the unique opportunity to be raised in a world where he has been exposed to children with all sorts of disabilities, needs, types of equipment, behaviors, ways of communicating, and so on. Bryson came to our peer-modeling program as a baby and has been growing and learning alongside children with medical fragilities that look “different” to the outside world. Bryson isn’t afraid of the “different”. He will walk right up to any kid and give them a huge grin and a hug. He knows how to make every child feel loved and included. He isn’t afraid when children in our nursing program have outbursts, but rather, he tries to calm them and tell them, “It’s okay”. Our prayer for Bryson is to continue to grow in this love even after he goes to school. Jesus was the perfect example of showing us how deeply God loves those who are “different” and who may be sick or in need. We pray Bryson, and every child enrolled as a peer-model in the Equip program, models this exact love Jesus had for others.”
Bryson’s mom Nakesha says, “I am thankful my family is a part of Special Kids. I thank God for the Christian foundation and the things the teachers teach. Bryson will sit on my bed and say, ‘let’s pray for my teacher’s mom!’ and he’ll name every single teacher and pray for them; I thank God for that.”
The Equip program at Special Kids seeks to equip children, regardless of disability, with the skills and confidence they need to become like Jesus and share His love with the world. The purpose of this program is to aid in the development and spiritual growth of medically fragile children in our nursing program. Nursing children, who are developmentally and cognitively appropriate for a typical classroom setting, are placed in an age appropriate classroom along with peer models. This model creates an inclusive environment that evokes service, kindness, independence, and encouragement as children are given the opportunity to learn how to love one another without prejudice or judgment. Peer models such as Bryson go through an application and screening process to determine if Equip is an appropriate program for the child. To learn more about Equip, visit http://www.specialkidstn.com/equip
Rachel and Bryson are this year’s impact Special Kids partners for the 7th annual Special Kids Race. Please consider running for Rachel and Bryson and join impact Special Kids! Click below for more information and to sign-up: http://specialkidsrace.org/fundraising/