As a winner, our story will be published in the July 19th “Phoenix Stories” special section of the Phoenix Business Journal. In addition, it was distributed today at the July 18th Non-Profit Business Summit.
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Ellie, who is nearly five years old, came to Upward’s inclusive child-care program a year and a half ago. She was quiet, reserved and unable to talk. Ellie has WieackerWolff Syndrome; as a result, she has little muscle control in her legs and is unable to crawl or walk. She is quite bright, but a number of developmental delays make it hard for her to speak, eat, and perform everyday activities like dressing herself.
At her previous child care center, Ellie’s fragile legs had been stepped on by another child. Her parents were anxious to find a place where Ellie could be safe and thrive. Upward specializes in providing care for children with and without disabilities in an integrated environment where all abilities are recognized and celebrated.
And today? Ellie has blossomed into Upward’s unofficial social butterfly - zipping around the campus in her child-size wheelchair, smiling brightly and high-fiving everyone she sees.
Ellie’s parents were so happy with her progress that they enrolled Ellie in Upward’s specialeducation preschool and our therapy program, where she participates in speech, feeding and occupational therapies.
Today, Ellie is learning to speak, eat more solid foods, and dress herself. She’s quite proficient on the iPad, which is one of the tools she uses for drawing, hand-eye coordination, and other learning activities. Ellie’s parents hope to get an augmentative communication device for Ellie so she can better communicate her needs while she learns to speak.
‘I’ve always wanted to find a place where Ellie could not only be cared for, but where she could really blossom and flourish - and that’s what we’ve found at Upward. I don’t have to worry about the things that come along with a child who has a disability. Here she doesn’t have a disability, she’s just Ellie.’ - Ellie’s father, Ryan Anderson.
Ellie’s 1-year-old brother has also joined Upward’s child care program. That’s more significant than it might sound. The siblings get to stay together - and it also helps relieve the stress and logistical issues families who have a child with a disability face when they are forced to use two different child care centers.
Ellie has truly benefited from Upward’s coordinated approach to care. Her child care teachers, special education preschool teachers, and therapists all work together to ensure Ellie has the support she needs to grow and thrive.