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Labels to Leaps

by Rev. Elliot M. Smith, President

Have you ever had a label placed on you by others? As adults, we have the tools and emotional maturity to deal with such labels. But for children, labels can be hurtful, even cruel, with life-long consequences.

Perhaps you’ve had a family member so impacted by labels. You are not alone. This is a story we see repeated over and over again in our work with children and families, sometimes across multiple generations – all because of a label they received as a child.

You can imagine then what it must have been like for 12-year-old Tyler who arrived at Thornwell with dark, sad eyes, his head low against his wet collar – a nervous habit he picked up, chewing his collar. His entire life defined by cruel classmates and an infamous file. How would he overcome? How could he?

You can help change all that.

Tyler’s grandmother would tell us she’d been doing her best as his primary caregiver, but year after year he continued to fall behind in school – several grade levels behind in reading and math.

He had even been placed in a self-contained classroom, often reserved for children with significant behavioral issues or learning disabilities. Tyler, a hopeless sixth-grader… another label, or so it seemed. Thankfully, Tyler’s grandmother was referred to Thornwell by a pediatrician. Out of an act of love for her grandson in the face of a seemingly impossible situation, she took action.

You gave her that choice. It’s people like you who give kids like Tyler a chance to realize their God-given gifts, not be defined by some label.

It’s important you know that we assess each child when they arrive at Thornwell. You see, we want to understand each child – where they are and where they should be – developmentally, academically, emotionally, and spiritually. It’s our goal to meet each child where they are, with an individualized learning plan to fully address their needs.

We want to understand each child – where they are and where they should be – developmentally, academically, emotionally, and spiritually.

You may not be surprised to learn that the labels placed upon Tyler’s life were all without substance. His assessments revealed he did not have a learning disability. In fact, Tyler scored as a gifted and talented student! Can you believe it?

Thanks to friends like you, Tyler is thriving! He no longer chews on his collar and is engaged in school. He’s even been empowered to have a voice in how to meet his own learning goals – with excellence!

Your gift this back-to-school season will help make all the difference! With your heart to connect and gift of support, children of all abilities served by Thornwell can reach their full potential, not be defined by a life-limiting label.

Please send your gift of support today so that more kids like Tyler can go back to school this August with an entirely new future full of possibilities. Because you so deeply care and so generously give, we can change lives. Thank you!

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