When you surround a child with their peers, it becomes the perfect environment for learning and development. They sing together, play together and teach each other about diversity. At Kids Academy of Copley, you can see classrooms filled with boys and girls of every race and all abilities. Together, they thrive. “The kids teach each other so much more than I ever could,” shared Kids Academy teacher, Caitlin Zajac.
Recently, the academy added a new student to their roster—a little girl named Allie. Since day one, she soaked in her new-found environment. She socializes, shares and has even assigned herself a seat in the snack room. During snack time, some kids just like the fruit, others only the vegetables. Some just enjoy their juice. From time to time, Allie will eat using a feeding tube in her stomach. It’s not different; it’s just her way of snacking.
Over the past several weeks, the Kids Academy staff has received hands-on training from Allie’s father on how to feed Allie. “I was scared at first hooking everything up. But now it is no big deal at all,” commented teacher, Caitlin.
Allie and the Kids Academy staff have exceled in such a short time. It was only just a few months ago that Allie was part of a temporary Summit DD initiative called Paving the Way. Summit DD’s Community Partnership for Inclusion (CPI) department began the program to serve as a stepping stone for families. It was designed for children with special needs who, due to medical or behavioral challenges, may not be able to immediately receive inclusive child care in the community.
Summit DD CPI staff worked with Allie and her father to develop a successful transition plan into a community daycare, close to their home. “She reached her milestones quickly so we started the conversation with Dad about community child care, and we presented him a list of locations nearby,” recalled Summit DD Inclusion Specialist, Tiffany Myszka.
When Allie’s father selected Kids Academy of Copley, Summit DD CPI staff stepped in to help facilitate the tube feeding training. “Allie’s dad did such a great job showing them the process. And afterwards, the child care staff were able to video chat with nurses contracted with Summit DD, in case they had any questions,” Tiffany stated.
To continue fostering Allie’s new inclusive setting, she has been assigned an Inclusion Support Specialist through Summit DD’s CPI department. The specialist visits Kids Academy on a regular basis to collaborate with the staff, and engage with Allie and her classmates. She provides the tools and training for Allie to be successful in an inclusive environment.
“She’s just like all of the other kids. It’s great to see her thrive around her peers,” commented Lois Anders, the Inclusion Support Specialist for Allie.