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Here's one of many inspiring stories from the Claremont Center:
In my 30-plus years at AbilityFirst I’ve seen how our programs empower literally hundreds of children and teens to become active, engaged members of their families, schools, and communities. I’ve also watched how their parents react as their children become more self-directed, independent, and able to communicate what they want and need. At AbilityFirst, individuals who have disabilities do so much more than image the possibilities for themselves – they are exploring and creating new realities and new futures for themselves.
A recent interaction with Molly and her mom is just one example of this transformation we see every day: I was working at my desk when Molly’s mom entered with tears in her eyes and a smile on her face. I looked up at her, puzzled. She pointed out the window of my office to a group of children standing around the patio table. A staff member was helping them plant flowers in a large planter in the center of the table. “Look at her,” she said, indicting 12-year-old Molly. This, she said, is why she enrolled Molly in our program just over 1-½ years ago. According to her, Molly has made more progress since she came to AbilityFirst than she the entire time she has been in school – and even people at school have acknowledged Molly has made amazing progress with her social skills.
When she started attending our program, Molly, who has cerebral palsy and challenges with balance, spent much of her time walking on her knees and isolating herself from others, watching the activities instead of participating in them. She wore a handkerchief around her neck to wipe her chin, because she often used spitting as a way to communicate. At AbilityFirst, Molly has learned alternative communication tools (like waving). With some encouragement, she now stands up and walks. She no longer wears a handkerchief when she is here and readily joins group activities, participating to the best of her abilities. In fact, one of her favorite activities is dancing.
That’s part of what AbilityFirst means to me – seeing the talents and possibilities in every individual and helping them to achieve their goals! I’m proud to be a small part of Molly’s success -- and that of hundreds of other children who come to AbilityFirst every year.