Celebrating Each Student’s Gifts

July 21, 2016

If you’re travelling with Freddy, you never have to worry about getting lost. Gifted with an amazing memory, Freddy has memorized all of the road systems in Michigan, the colors of the bridges, and even the addresses to get there. He loves to draw detailed pictures of places he’s been and could easily serve as a living, walking GPS. He delights all those he meets with his charm, his intelligence, and his talents!
Freddy joined Elim’s family two years ago. Freddy arrived at Elim with a lot of fear and discouragement. His parents, Kenny and Danelle, were so hopeful that Elim could provide Freddy with acceptance and help him gain the skills he needs to grow in independence. They wanted to find a place where Freddy’s personality, gifts, and abilities would be understood.
In Sherry Riemersma-Luke’s classroom, Freddy not only found acceptance, but he is celebrated! “I love being Freddy’s teacher,” says Riemersma-Luke. “I enjoy him; I enjoy the uniqueness of him. He’s so curious, funny, and bright. He’s a wonderful child!”
While Freddy still struggles with sensory triggers and communication, Elim provides him with speech and occupational therapy to help him grow. He has gained life skills, and his newfound happiness is so evident to those around him. These changes spill over into his home life and have given his parents reasons to celebrate as well. “Elim’s staff is so patient with Freddy,” his mom, Danelle, recently shared. “He has so much support there. He’s able to communicate with those around him so much better. The other night he said, ‘Hi, Mom. Dinner was really good. How did you like it?’ He’s always been a charming and loving young boy, but now he is able to express himself and engage with others.”
Freddy’s parents attribute much of his recent success at school to the acceptance and love that greets their son at Elim each day. While all days can’t be good ones, they know that no matter what, their son is never looked upon as anything less than a gift from God. “At Elim, Freddy feels comfortable with who he is,” says Freddy’s dad, Kenny. “If he’s having a bad day, the staff members understand and know how to best help him. They accept him for who he is and are able to help him focus on acquiring new skills and moving forward. He feels enabled, encouraged, and happy.”
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UPDATE: We heard from Freddy’s great-grandma, after she read the article, and she had this to add:
We are so very grateful…He was doing ok with the classroom work through third grade, but now he is making great strides in all aspects of his life.  His personal interaction skills have really increased and his sensitivity to others is better.  It is true that he is a walking, breathing GPS to get to the places he has been before…Thank you for the awesome work you are doing for Freddy and for all of the students and clients of Elim!

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