Meet Ryan

The class had just finished snack and color time when 6-year-old Ryan stood up in his chair and began catapulting crayons at his friends. Just then, he turned to the girl next to him and burped loudly in her face. She wrinkled her nose and called him “rude.” He responded with a high-pitched squeal and a zestful karate chop.

It was from this point forward that Ryan affectionately became known as the “Kindergarten Karate Kid.”

“Too much to handle” and “out of control” were just a couple of labels placed on Ryan.

You can imagine then what it must have been like for Ryan, the kindergarten outcast, and his Mom. The daily struggle to fight labels and overcome objections had become…hopeless.

You see, Ryan’s father was not involved, but Mom learned to be resourceful as a single parent with multiple kids. Although she had limited financial resources, she was a regular at the neighborhood library. She borrowed educational resources and workbooks, which she had Ryan practice each night. She also read through every parenting/self-help book available, but nothing seemed to help.

The outbursts at school were only getting worse. Mom would tell us she was out of ideas and at the end of her rope. But, all thanks to friends like you, Mom had options–Thornwell’s Building Families program.

A Family Specialist began visiting Ryan’s home two to three afternoons each week. He learned basic skills like how to follow instructions, how to accept no for an answer, and how to express what he was feeling in a safe, appropriate way (which did not involve karate-chopping). Mom learned how to calm Ryan down when he was upset and how to honor his feelings and experiences, even when they seemed silly or aggravating. She also learned how to communicate her expectations and how to motivate Ryan on his level.

The hard work began to pay off.

The family entered Thornwell’s aftercare services at the end of the summer, and each month, the Family Specialist would reach out to Mom for an update. The sound of her voice began to change. A mom who was once frazzled and overworked had become confident and hopeful.

Ryan stopped going to the Principal’s office every day, and his teachers were consistently sending home positive behavior reports. Ryan’s behavior began to improve so much so that one day Ryan’s mom called the Family Specialist in tears. She received news that Ryan tested into the gifted and talented program! It turns out that with all those educational workbooks Mom brought home, Ryan learned to read, write, and perform math at a third-grade level! He really wasn’t such a big and bad “Karate Kid” after all; he was just bored!

It’s families like Ryan’s that compel us to continue this meaningful work. With your help, we address the child welfare crisis at the root level, the family level, to prevent instability or breakdown before it happens.

Friends like you give families like Ryan’s a chance. Thank you!

You can give a gift today to impact more children like Ryan. 

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