Louis is a bright child with a verbal IQ in the superior range, a keen imagination and a thirst for learning. He is also a child with Asperger’s Syndrome. He has the fine motor skills of a much younger child, does not understand social situations, and is easily disturbed by certain sounds and sensations. Louis is lucky. His challenges have not held him back because he has had mentors to help with physically and socially demanding tasks and to provide him with breaks when the stimulation of enrichment environments gets to be too much. Most children with developmental disabilities in our community don’t get that kind of chance.
Mila is gifted in the visual arts, and is a hardworking child with an engaging manner. Mila is also a resettled child. She spent her early years in war zones and refugee camps. When she arrived she barely spoke English. Mila is lucky. She has had mentors to help provide structures, boundaries, and consistency. As she quickly learned the English language, there was someone available to help slow things down and break complicated ideas into simple phrases so that she could participate in art and science activities outside of school. Most resettled children in our community don’t get that kind of chance.
Mila and Louis (their names and other identifying information have been changed) are part of Project Access, a program of The Enrichment Alliance of Virginia that provides support in order to increase the access of enrichment programs for children with special needs. Our impact on our community is limited only by the number of mentors available to support children who need a special friend and just a little extra help. We know of many other Milas and Louises in Charlottesville and surrounding counties. You could make a huge difference to one of them.
Posted by guest blogger, Mary Anna Dunn, Program Director, The Enrichment Alliance of Virginia
This blog is part of a Blog Marathon aimed to bring awareness to our community of the current needs for mentors and tutors. Visit www.cvillevolunteer.org to learn about how YOU can make a difference in the life of a child.
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