Here are some of the stories we wanted to share.
Take some time to read the personal stories and share them with others.
Born on June 24, 1980, Beau’s first contact with The Arc Caddo-Bossier (C-BARC at the time) was through a Home Training group that met once a week with a home trainer or therapist. They showed us how to work with our babies to strengthen muscle tone and coordination. Then Beau began school at the age of two with Mid City Child Development School. This was a pilot program of The Arc where typically developing children and children with developmental disabilities attended classes together.
Beau entered public school at five years old and continued his education until 21 years of age. He made countless friends in all of the schools he attended and continue to this day to keep up with him. While he was in school he was active with the Special Olympics while attending Vivian Middle Magnet School. I believe that is when he really grew and became “Mr. Personality”.
One of my favorite stores of Beau happened when he attended Special Olympics in Hammond over a weekend. The bus picking him up was coming early so we had everything packed and ready to go the night before he was to leave. We were awakened by my older son about midnight saying that the police brought Beau to his home because he didn’t want me and his dad to find out he had snuck out of the house. He was so excited to be going on the trip, he couldn’t sleep, so he got his suitcase, pillow and his puppy and had walked to the highway to sit and wait for the bus. He was so afraid we would not get him up in time. As a parent, this scared me so much I was tempted to keep him home and not let him go on the trip, but after a lot of crying, praying and the pleading look in his eyes, we let him go. It was the first of many trips he would make. He was chosen by Special Olympics as Most Outstanding Male Athlete in the state of Louisiana.
As he matured, his goal was to move out of our home and into his own home where he could be with his peers. He also wanted to work. He got his wish and has never regretted his decision. Since December of 2002, Beau has lived in a home in the Community Home program of The Arc Caddo-Bossier, and he has worked for Wal-Mart for many years.
Beau’s dad and I have always loved each of our boys and their families, but Beau is our reward for all of the trials and hard work life has placed in our path. He has accomplished so much and worked doubly hard to meet each milestone and goal.
Frederick “Rick” Kester was born with Down syndrome in 1962. He was embraced by his family and friends. However, his doctors in Little Rock, Arkansas encouraged us not to take him home – to send him to the Children’s Colony for ‘care’ as he would never sit-up, walk, talk or understand anything prior to his expected death in a few years. His pediatrician said he would treat Rick by phone only – never to bring him to the office. Stunned by this attitude, we sought other medical care and soon relocated to Irving, Texas, where Rick obtained caring treatment and attended a developmental program. Then, in 1967, we moved to Shreveport, Louisiana and enrolled Rick in the David H. Goldman School.
From day one, we were significantly involved with The Arc’s activities. His father, Fred, served as President of the Board of Directors in 1970 and 1971. His mother, Becky, launched the David H. Goldman Parent-Teacher Group in 1967. She served as president for several years while obtaining motivational speakers for each month’s meeting; as well as editing ‘The Link,’ a monthly newsletter mailed to the general membership. Becky also coordinated meetings with the Frost Parent Group to help serve the Board and general membership and join their efforts for fundraising. The Frost Parents became ‘pros’ at fundraising. Rick’s sister, Laura, volunteered on Saturdays with The Arc’s Glory Youth Group to take the children and adults on local outings. His sister, Edie, served as a summer volunteer in the children’s classrooms. We all ‘pitched-in’ for every event.
The doctors’ initial predictions for Rick’s development became false, and we have experienced thousands of beautiful memories with Rick that we will savor and be blessed by – especially his success at school, holidays, vacations, and the memories of Rick’s Special Olympics events. He loved the competition, and he always earned gold in the swimming categories, but basketball was his favorite.
Our family also enjoyed taking Rick shopping for his first apartment in the Community Living program of The Arc Caddo-Bossier. We helped him prepare his choice of furnishings which was joy beyond measure. In so many instances he was ‘Our Hero.’
From the beginning, The Arc’s teachers, support staff, and active parents and community volunteers united to provide an outstanding educational and social foundation for achievement that children were able to build on for their future success as adults. This dedication continues to magnify and be a constant source of energy to provide a superior education for children.
On August 26, 1993 at 3:03 am, our little bundle of joy, Wynnifred LaShawn, decided to see the world three months before her scheduled due date. Her unexpected birth brought many joys – and unimagined challenges. “Winnie,” as she is affectionately called, is one of our greatest blessings.
During her lengthy hospitalization, her team of specialist – pediatricians, neurologists, cardiologists, and therapists – explained to us what we should expect from a pre-term delivery. Overwhelmed, confused, scared, and even angry, our family resolved that day that we would do everything humanly possible to help Winnie reach her full potential.
By the age of 5 months, we observed that Winnie was physically developing slower than other kids -- she would use her upper body strength to pull herself around rather than use her legs. We accepted the fact that since God had entrusted her to us, that He would give us what we needed to help her. HE answered our prayers when we were introduced to Goldman School and its staff. At first, I was reluctant to send Winnie to C-BARC (Caddo-Bossier Association for Retarded Citizens) because its name at the time implied something about my child that wasn’t true. But after witnessing how kind and loving the staff was to both children with special needs as well as children with special abilities, like Winnie, I quickly had a change of heart. Members of the staff like, Debbie Banks, Cindy Murray, Alma Brown, and others (too many to count) embraced my family with open arms and loving hearts.
Over the next 5 years, Winnie progressed from using a stationary walker to mobile walker to canes and then walking independently. She entered into the public school system at grade level armed with the tools needed for success! Goldman School educators not only taught the kids life skills and basic education fundamentals, they taught the parents how to be the best advocates for their children. We learned the meanings of popular acronyms like: IEP (Individualized Educational Plan), PT (Physical Therapy), OT (Occupational Therapy), APE (Adaptive Physical Education), and they taught us differences between the different services offered. These were some of the terms parents needed to know if they were going to be successful when navigating through the system. And for this we are eternally grateful!
Today, 17 years later, Winnie is thriving beautifully at Louisiana Tech University in Ruston. She has held various Student Government Association leadership positions, including chairing The BIG EVENT, Tech’s largest community service project in Lincoln Parish and serving on Tech’s Leadership Council. She was recently named 2014-2015 Tech Talk Multimedia Editor. Scheduled to graduate May 2015, Winnie plans to attend Southern Law School in Baton Rouge in the fall.
We still marvel at what Winnie has become, and look forward to seeing what’s ahead in her future. Look out world! She’s not aware of how much she has inspired, enriched, and motivated us to become better parents, and ultimately, better people. This wonderful journey has taught us to “Raise the child you have, and not the one you thought you’d have.” Winnie is perfectly made!
Nicholas was born on July 16, 1990 with a severe kidney problem and Down syndrome. The first few months of his life were very scary. There were times we were not sure he would survive, but in no small part due to an extremely stubborn streak instilled into his being, he did. As a speech-language pathologist, I knew that early intervention for children with disabilities was crucial. And I knew just where to go. Part of my training to become a speech pathologist had taken place at Goldman School and Child Development Center, and I knew that I could receive support there. At first Nick received home-based services, but when I saw the wonderful things that happened in the classes, I knew that he would truly benefit from the teaching, the stimulation, and the love that was provided at Goldman School.
For approximately two years Nick attended Goldman School, and the wonderful ladies who worked there helped him learn to walk, to talk, and to feed himself. He was loved despite the wet diapers, the runny noses, and the sticky fingers. He was loved despite his tendency to say “NO” accompanied by attempts to do things his way. Once he started at Goldman School, I was fortunate enough to be hired as a part-time speech therapist at the facility. It was a wonderful work situation. I got to bring my youngest child to work with me, and best of all, I got to be an early interventionist for dozens of wonderful boys and girls with special needs.
I currently work as a speech-language pathologist in the public schools, and Nicholas went on to attend Riverside Elementary, Youree Drive Middle School and Captain Shreve High School. My son has been fortunate to have had, through the years, many kind and caring people to help him learn and grow. But his first teachers, the teachers of Goldman School, will always have a special place in my heart.
Megan & Abby Sterling
We have two daughters; Megan is now 11 and is a 6th grader at CMM, and Abby is 9, attends Shreve Island Elementary, 3rd grade.
After our private sitter decided to retire, I had difficulty selecting a daycare provider for my baby. Many of the places I visited simply didn’t meet my standards or give me a “warm, fuzzy” feeling. Debbie Banks (board member of The Arc Caddo-Bossier) suggested that I visit Goldman School. She highly recommended the program, and I discovered that her accolades were spot on. Megan’s first caregiver at Goldman, Angie, was devoted to her charges. Megan was particularly colicky in those first months, and Angie’s gentle touch and reassuring voice calmed her. Angie cared for these little ones as if they were her own, a trait we would see with all the Goldman staff in the coming years.
As Megan and Abby progressed through the different classroom groups, the Goldman teachers taught them empathy and compassion for children who have difficulties. One therapist even brought Abby along during another child’s treatment session (which we welcomed) to help her open up and make the treatment seem like play. Yes, it helped the child progress in therapy, but it also taught Abby to lead and recognize when she can help others, a character trait that continues to this day. We are so thankful that our children attended Goldman School.
My son, Grayson Stockton, is the surviving twin of a multiple pregnancy. He was born extremely premature, just one day shy of 27 weeks gestation. Grayson spent 74 days in the NICU with seemingly no apparent complications. When Grayson was released we brought him home under the false assumption that he would he would have minimal affects from his premature birth.
It soon became apparent that Grayson was delayed in development even for his adjusted age. We were attending physical, speech, and occupational therapy when we were given the breathtaking news that our son showed signs of cerebral palsy. After numerous visits with both a Neurologist and Pediatric Orthopedist, Grayson was diagnosed with Spastic Diplegia Cerebral Palsy.
My husband and I were at a loss, we really didn’t understand the diagnosis and what it actually meant. Grayson was in the care of a wonderful sitter, however she could not provide him the level of care a child with special needs requires. We were so blessed to hear about Goldman School from our physical therapist. Words can’t describe my overwhelming gratitude for what Goldman School provides. Grayson wasn’t walking or talking when we enrolled him at Goldman in August of 2010. As a child with special needs, Grayson did not like change and had difficulties adjusting to a new environment. Each worker and teacher at Goldman embraced him with open arms. As a Mom you can’t imagine the comfort that provides knowing that each worker and teacher there knew him by name. Within a few months of attending Goldman it was as if a switch was turned on inside of Grayson. He began speaking words, then full sentences and walking the halls in his K-Walker.
Goldman provides the day to day encouragement and instruction a child with disabilities requires. Each morning he walked in and felt right at home as his friends welcomed him with cheerful shouts. Grayson transitioned into the Bossier Parish School system in 2013, and he has excelled in their program. We believe the time he spent at Goldman prepared him for the next stage in his life. What Goldman provides for these children is invaluable. I love that Goldman integrates children with disabilities with typical developing children. This teaches children that even though we have differences we can learn and play together. Goldman is truly a treasure in the Shreveport-Bossier Community.
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