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Daniel's Journey: From Struggles to Smiles

Research has shown again and again that education is the clearest path for children to reach their full potential. Thanks to the generosity of our donors, we can help change the life trajectory for local kids through education and help create a stronger community – for all of us – in the future.

Ignite Academy is an out-of-school program that supports local kids from Grades 2 to 7 to help them succeed academically, while wrapping other important supports around the kids and their families. We’d like to introduce you to one of our Ignite Academy kids – Daniel.

Daniel and his family were referred to Ignite Academy at the start of the program’s pilot year. At the time, Daniel was in his last year at St. Louis school in Leamington and was experiencing some challenges academically and socially. Daniel is diagnosed with high functioning autism and struggled with social interactions with his peers. Over the course of the school year, Daniel worked closely with Ignite Academy staff and community partners to address both academic and social struggles. Daniel was a part of small groups throughout the year and worked on further developing his social and emotional regulation skills and techniques. Daniel was eventually able to vocalize his emotions and identify specific triggers. This allowed him to fully participate and enjoy his time during activities and assisted in interactions with his peers.

As a part of the systems navigation aspect of Ignite, Daniel’s family became reacquainted and further connected with autism resources within the community that had been lost to them during the lockdowns during the pandemic. Over the course of the year, Daniel helped to teach staff about his uniqueness and what it means to live and work with an autism diagnosis. Daniel’s smile, humor, and eagerness to succeed and participate helped to educate staff and shaped the future structure of how the Ignite program functions for students in need of specialized support. The Ignite team cannot wait to see what Daniel will achieve in the years to come.

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