Posted on March 9th, 2015 by Beth Finke
I am pleased to introduce Jasmine Musgrave as a guest blogger today. Jasmine served as Head Teacher at the Easter Seals Child Development Center in Washington, DC, and now brings her writing, design, communication and people skills to the Easter Seals regional offices in Silver Spring, Maryland. She’s writing for us today about the inclusive childcare model that she chose for her son.
Now Franklyn wants eyeglasses, too
by Jasmine Musgrave
My four-year-old son Franklyn introduced me to a very special person at his school one day. “Mom!” he shouted loudly and clearly for everyone to hear. “This is my new best friend!” Franklyn was standing proudly with his arm wrapped around the shoulders of his favorite classmate. His new best friend was shy as he could be, wearing a pair of brown, rubber glasses and smiling from ear to ear.
I eventually learned that Franklyn’s new best friend was not only blind in one eye, but had undergone several surgeries after being born prematurely. To Franklyn and the other typically developing children in the class, he was just part of the crew — no different than the rest.
Franklyn has been attending the Easter Seals DC | MD | VA Child Development Program for nearly four years. He began at the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Child Development Center in Washington, DC, at just 18-months-old, and transferred to the Safeway, Inc. Child Development Center in Silver Spring, Maryland, a few months later. He has been attending ever since, and is currently enrolled in the pre-kindergarten classroom at the Safeway Inc. Child Development Center.
The Easter Seals Child Development Program provides children and their families with an experience unlike any other: inclusion. From a very young age, Franklyn was taught that all children are special and loved, regardless of their abilities or disabilities. By attending the Easter Seals program, Franklyn has independently developed a sensitivity to children with all types of disabilities and continues to accept them just the same as the other typically developing children.
At age four, Franklyn is maturing and gaining more of an understanding of disabilities and the differences between himself and some of his classmates. Thanks to his experience at Easter Seals, he doesn’t base his acceptance of others on these factors. Franklyn has entirely accepted his new best friend in spite of his disability. The two of them are inseparable, and when Franklyn’s new best friend misses class to go to a routine medical appointment, he can always count on Franklyn to race to catch him up to speed when he returns to class – in fact, the very minute he walks in the door.
Being the parent of a child attending an inclusive child development center has been an interesting and beneficial experience for my husband and me, too. Our son Franklyn has reminded us of the true essence of friendship. He has taught me that no matter our differences, true friendship and acceptance comes from the heart. Our experience at the Safeway Inc. Child Development Center has been amazing, but it’s come with the challenge of over-sensitivity, too. Franklyn often expresses to my husband and me that he needs glasses like his new best friend.
Franklyn does not require glasses to see, so we have learned to thank him for his efforts to make his new best friend feel loved and accepted. We explain to him he does not have to rely on glasses to see. This has proven to be very difficult for such a young child to understand, but we know that understanding all these differences is a work in progress.
All in all, we are, collectively, extremely thankful to Easter Seals for such a great learning experience for Franklyn. We are hopeful that whatever the circumstances may be, because of his experience at the Safeway Inc. Child Development Center, Franklyn will always carry with him the principle that true friendship is not about how we appear on the outside, but does indeed come from the heart.
Find out how two families were saved by the Easter Seals childcare model, and the benefits of this inclusive child development model for all kids on easterseals.com.