Many stories are told artfully by words alone; requiring only a writer’s skill to conjure an accurate illustration of a subject. But for some, words simply fail to communicate the real heroism, raw emotion, or heartbreaking experiences of those who were there.
This is one such story. Anna was a happy and engaged Kindergarten student at Para Los Niños’ Charter Elementary School until her behavior changed suddenly and dramatically, becoming increasingly more erratic and unpredictable. Formally bright and happy, she became inexplicably fearful, often hiding under tables refusing to emerge. She was aggressive and enraged; storming out of classrooms, screaming and hitting, even throwing objects. Eventually, Anna became inconsolably sad; her little body tense with
sobbing that could last an hour or more, requiring an entire team of teachers, administrators, and staff to comfort her. At an age when other children are care-free, Anna’s teachers worried about her well-being.
Although her elementary school team tried to empower Anna by reminding her of her talents and gifts, Anna’s needs were too great and required specialized help. Because Para Los Niños provides education, mental health and social services, Anna’s teachers were able to work hand-in-hand with professionals who could identify and begin to treat the source of her emotional distress. Therapy sessions were scheduled to accommodate the work hours of her mother, a seamstress in LA’s Garment District, who is struggling alone to support three children and a grandchild.
In time, Anna began to heal and is considered a child with tremendous social and educational potential. She has been in a bilingual program, yet scored proficient in both English Language Arts and Mathematics on the California Standards Test for the second grade. As a result, Anna was placed in a third/fourth grade combination class, where her teachers describe her as a formidable competitor to her fourth grade colleagues in all subjects. She has a respectful, tenacious spirit, is recognized as a leader amongst her peers, and is admired by adults for the strength, resilience, and grace she possesses.
Although she has overcome many more obstacles in her short life than most adults have in a lifetime, more lie ahead. Anna continues therapy and is successfully learning how to manage her emotions and the challenges of her past. She aspires to be a doctor and possesses both the determination and intellect to become one, but her family’s economic future is uncertain.
Anna has the potential to achieve all that she dreams of and more; her aspirations are limited only by the circumstances in which she lives. Anna deserves a chance. Please help us give her one.