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I am in awe of the strength of character and determination of my now 21 year old niece, Alexis Armstrong. Born with cerebral palsy, she has overcome many challenges and has had the courage to try tasks that seem beyond her abilities. In 2010, being a huge fan and supporter of team sports, Alexis told her parents that she wanted to try out for cheerleader at her high school. They advised her that because of her disabilities, she might not make the squad. She told them that she wanted to do the training and try out any way. An amazing cheer coach gave her the chance. Her participation on the cheer squad was a life changing experience for her and her parents. In 2010, being a huge fan and supporter of team sports, Alexis told her parents that she wanted to try out for cheerleader at her high school. They advised her that because of her disabilities, she might not make the squad. She told them that she wanted to do the training and try out any way. An amazing cheer coach gave her the chance. Her participation on the cheer squad was a life changing experience for her and her parents. She went on to be Prom Queen and was voted MVP by the athletic teams. The family has recently returned to Wichita and Alexis is looking forward to new challenges.
At age 16 Daxton Miller was a Junior at Wichita East High School. His parents
Harold and Donna told Arc staff that at a IEP meeting Daxton told them and the
school officials that he hated school and hated being in special education.
“Everyone at East High knows I’m retarded so they pick on me all the time.
I have no friends at school.” His first 3 years of High School Daxton was suspended 3 times for fighting and was in detention at least twice a week.
His senior year, through an Arc tennis program Daxton gained the skills and confidence to try out and make his tennis team at East High School. Through tennis at East he developed a group of friends who he practiced with, traveled to tournaments with and had lunch with. His senior year at East he had no problem with getting into fights and did not have a detention all year. At his graduation in front of 450 of his peers he was asked to lead his class in the pledge of allegiance. Everyone needs a Circle of Friends.
The circle of friends program benefits all students in many ways. Many of our general education students who participate are also proctors in our categorical classes. This shows my students that there are people other than staff who care about helping them learn skills needed to get them to their goal of independence. My students also show the general education students that they can learn some of the same content as out in the regular education world, they just need modifications and a little more patience.
The “Circle of Friends” mentoring program that is coordinated by “The Arc of Sedgwick County” has had an incredible positive influence on the students at Greiffenstein Alternative Elementary School of USD 259. Greiffenstein Alternative is a school in which most of the students attending have few positive teen role models in their life. C of F coordinated monthly visits of middle school students from St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic School. Once a month a different group of middle school students from this school would arrive at 8:30 am to mentor students in our classrooms through tutoring and social skill building. The St. Elizabeth students would remain with our students until 10:30 am.
The response from the classroom teachers and students has been so positive I have been asked if there is the possibility that other middle and/or high school students can also participate.
The “Arc of Sedgwick County” has made a significant positive influence on the children of our school through the creation of the program.
Janice Tucker is the type of volunteer every organization would like to have. She brings her passion, wisdom and heart each and every day and gives of her time selflessly. She is more than a volunteer assisting those in the programs. She is a true friend who cares about the lives of those she comes in contact with. The Tucker family was part of the founding families who began The Arc of Sedgwick County 60 years ago with a vision of changing the world for those living with developmental disabilities. Janice carries on that vision by giving all those she encounters respect, a caring smile and reminds them of the value they bring to our world. She challenges many to try new things and to become more active, increasing their level of independence.
This is not a hobby for Janice, it is her way of life. She has volunteered countless hours every year since she was a teenager and in nearly every program The Arc has provided touching thousands of lives.
The Arc of Sedgwick County
2919 W Second
Wichita KS 67203
Outreach and Development Coordinator