It’s another reason to smile, as Maryn’s mom, Jolie explained the daily challenges their family faces, and the ways that Variety helped to make life better.
“People don’t see the struggles we go through on a daily basis to normalize life for our kids and get them out into the community… It is overwhelming and difficult.
For example, breaking down a large wheelchair is really tough. If you don’t have family around to help, it is even more difficult. And, no one understands.
Variety is a blessing and Maryn’s adaptive stroller makes such a difference!
Maryn also received a communication device, and now she has a voice!
Just now, she let us know with her device that she wanted something to drink, so we were able to get her a drink.
You can see the frustration and the meltdowns when Maryn can’t communicate, but this device truly gives her a voice.
The device helps us understand all these things that make her world go round. It takes so much stress off of not just Maryn, but the family as a whole.
Maryn has a twin sister, Amae, who also received an adaptive bike from Variety… your organization has been such a blessing for our family.”
A few months ago, we officially surpassed 6,000 pieces of life-changing equipment presented to kids with disabilities – something we all can celebrate, together!
#6,000 was a communication device for 4-year-old, Noah, who is using it above to request chips!
His mom, Lucrecia explained why her son needs his own communication device and the difference it will make on a daily basis, by saying,
“I am writing to you as the mother of a toddler, who has been diagnosed with Autism.
As you can imagine, when we received this news it was very hard to take in, but as a family, we are trying to make the best of a challenging situation.
A mother’s love for her child is unparalleled.
I have so much love and compassion for my son, Noah, and on his behalf, I want to advocate for him to have all the opportunities that I can offer him, especially as he starts his journey of learning and living in this world.
I enrolled him in a Program that has assisted him in his development, and he recently had a breakthrough success. He was completely non-speaking when he started the Program, and then the other day, he verbally said two words, ‘Go’ and ‘Yea.’
I broke down in tears of joy by this tremendous moment!
Having his own communication device to utilize 24/7 will make all the difference in the world, especially with Noah’s learning and development.
This communication device will also have a huge impact on us, his parents, as well as Noah’s brother and sister because he will be able to communicate with everyone around him.”
After receiving his new communication device from Variety, Lucrecia told us, “Thank you again so much to everyone that has Helped myself and my Babyboy. I want to thank Them a million times!!”
Last Tuesday, we had a conversation with Wren, mother of 5-year-old Bjorn (pictured below), who received his own communication device from Variety in February… and we simply can’t stop talking about it!
Wren explained all the ways that having a communication device has truly changed her son’s life, and her own, by saying,
“Since receiving the communication device, Bjorn has gone from being a completely non-speaking child, to using his device to communicate with everyone, and it has been the most beautiful transformation to watch!!
Now, Bjorn is SO HAPPY because the device is easy for him to use and he gets his points across… he requests things, identifies things, picks his clothes out every morning, and even says what he wants to do next…
He’ll use his device to say, ‘Going to grammy’s house!’ with a smile.
Bjorn put his own picture in there and loves introducing himself to others – the device has been like a miracle.
I can’t wait to see where the device takes him because now, he has no more limitations.
Bjorn talks to me in the car with his device, and since receiving it, our relationship is so much closer now that we can communicate and that just makes my heart leap.
He’s in preschool and starting Kindergarten next fall, and through his device, he shows us that he knows so much! He knows his shapes, numbers, and places, and he loves that it’s speaking the words for him.
Bjorn takes ownership of the device, and he takes it everywhere he goes. His confidence is truly soaring because of the communication device.”
We simply wanted to share some QUICK good news to brighten your day.
Now that Grace has her own communication device, she is simply “going to soar” in life, as her Speech Language Pathologist, Alix shared,
“Grace was presented her device today with her mom and class!
We are so thrilled and excited, and her er reaction to it was priceless!
The first thing she did was request her favorite snack, goldfish, and say ‘HI’ to her favorite peer in her classroom.
We are all so thankful for this opportunity and equipment for Grace.
You at Variety were our light at the end of the tunnel, and we can’t wait to watch Grace soar because of you!
I hope you’ll share these with families, peers, and others in your network/community that may benefit from our mobility and communication programs (or know someone else that can).
Our programs are truly impacting kids, like Zeke and Joanna, who are all smiles below on their new adaptive bikes!
Zeke is ready to ride on his new adaptive bike (above), and prior to receiving it, his mom, Katherine told us,
“Zeke would love to have more ways to play with other kids and do more ‘regular stuff’ (as he says). He often chooses to sit out because he feels he won’t keep up. Being able to join in with bikes in the alley in a way he can do would be amazing.
His balance, endurance, strength, and coordination would make a standard bike extremely challenging, but an adaptive bike would be a great option for him. Zeke’s adaptive stroller has let us do SO much more in the community and has really eased medical appointments – we’re excited to see how he will grow from having a bike!”
Smile along with Joanna and her family (below)!
Before receiving her new set-of-wheels, Joanna’s parents, Julia and Jason shared how much this new bike means, by saying,
“Joanna has an older brother and two younger sisters. Her sisters are learning how to ride independently, and she wants to be able to ride with them. We’ve tried several different tricycles, but haven’t found one that works efficiently for her. An adaptive bike that is fitted just for her will not only help her continue to gain strength but also confidence and independence, while joining her siblings in an activity that they love.”
Both bikes for Zeke and Joanna were generously sponsored via funds raised by Al’s Bike Drive, which sponsored 10 bikes altogether!!
We have a unique chance to help kids gain their own communication devices on a much larger scale, as we strive to reach every eligible child that can benefit from our My Voice Program.
Thanks to input from Speech Language Pathologists, we’re also now reaching an incredible number of younger kids (ages 3-5), and we are hearing incredible success stories at an early age.
More than ever before, we have an exciting opportunity with My Voice, and our work is to help kids live life to the fullest – like Lyla.
Last Thursday, Lyla celebrated her 3rd birthday, and the next day, she received her new communication device! Lyla’s mom, Rebecca explained to us,
“Lyla is 3 and she’s unable to use words or enough signs to communicate her wants, needs or feelings.
This communication device will allow her to tell us what she needs on a daily basis, or how she’s currently feeling – like when she is happy or sad.
With this device, she can share in family activities more and build skills needed to thrive in the home as well as to prepare her for starting pre-school soon.
She has been trialing different communication apps with her speech therapists, and it’s like a whole new world opened up for Lyla. For instance, she could never tell us if she wanted to play – like with cars or a ball, but with the device, she can.
We have already learned so much more about her that we didn’t know and we’re eager to learn more.
Last September, we finalized Lyla’s adoption, and as a family, we want to provide everything we can to help her continue to make progress.
We have had her for a year, but now we see a new spark in her eyes because she is able to communicate more with us. The device will help us build stronger bonds with Lyla because we will be able to meet her specific needs.
Through the device, we also now know she is learning and picking up on skills that we had no idea she even knew.
As her parents, we simply hope to continue to help her be successful throughout her whole life — to let Lyla be the best Lyla that she can be and this device will help make that possible.”
With a device, Lyla can now communicate with her parents, her sister, and three brothers at home 24/7, as well as anywhere life takes her.
Can you imagine the difference a communication device will make for Lyla and her newly adopted family over the years to come?…
As always, thank you all so much for being a part of the Variety community, where it’s truly ALL ABOUT THE KIDS!
Take good care,
P.S. Variety accepts applications all-year-long for adaptive bikes, adaptive strollers, and communication devices, so please help us share the word to your networks (www.varietypittsburgh.org/applynow/).
A few months ago, 4-year-old Noah received his new adaptive bike AND adaptive stroller, and a year ago, he received a communication device – gaining all three pieces of equipment!
Noah’s smile above really says it all, but his mom, Roxanne shared the transformative difference the bike will make, by saying,
“My son is unable to even sit on a regular tricycle, let alone ride it. He is also unable to steer and petal by himself. We want him to get the idea of how to ride a bike, since he is already four years old and has never been able to properly ride one.
An adaptive bike will mean so much to our family because Noah can finally ride a bike this summer alongside his big sister, and we wouldn’t have to worry about him getting injured.”
Don’t miss Noah’s even bigger smile, as he tested out his new stroller below!
The stroller may not be as flashy as the bike, but it certainly has an immediate and incredible impact, like Roxanne helped us understand,
“Noah has always had low tone, a small limp when he walks (which is part of why he has leg braces), and he gets winded quicker than other children his age. As a family, we love going to places such as our local zoo, walks around the peninsula, and to our local amusement park. Noah absolutely loves going to these places, too, but it definitely presents a challenge for him and his legs when we are there for extended periods of time.
The adaptive stroller will help our family continue to do the things we love, especially during the warmer months in PA, and still allow for Noah to take breaks when needed. Not to mention, the stroller will lighten the burden on him and on myself and my husband from carrying Noah (especially since he has gotten very heavy as a four year old!).”
I am thrilled for Noah because families are regularly telling us, “the earlier their child can receive this life-changing equipment, the greater possibilities for their future.”
Mia’s mom, Anita recently shared at our Gala that her daughter is “a poster child for the importance and impact of early childhood intervention,” because at nearly 4 years old, Mia received a communication device and was completely nonverbal at that time.
Now at the age 7, Mia speaks completely with her own voice – can you even imagine the possibilities for her life now?!
We reached another milestone last week with a CBS National News story that shined a spotlight on Variety’s My Voice® Program!
Please watch, share, and be inspired by this story broken into three parts:
- Part 1 – The Journey to My Voice Featuring Tyler: https://www.cbsnews.com/live/video/20220804184922-charity-gives-kids-a-voice-through-technology/#x
- Part 2 – My Voice Interview with KDKA’s Kristine Sorensen: https://www.cbsnews.com/live/video/20220804185255-expanding-the-my-voice-program-across-u-s/
- Part 3 – Interview with Sue, whose son, JJ received two communication devices through My Voice and myself: https://www.cbsnews.com/live/video/20220804174538-my-voice-program-trying-to-help-kids-in-need/#x
We are hopeful that this story will enable us to help even more kids in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, as well as highlight that we’ve truly created a model that can be replicated throughout the nation (and even world).
A tremendous thanks to KDKA’s Kristine Sorensen, who not only made this extraordinary opportunity possible, but she also became a voice for the kids that still need a communication device.
My Voice is creating a life-changing impact for kids that are nonverbal (or have a communication disorder), and we’re so grateful for your support to make it happen!
While our Spring Tour continues to bring miles of smiles, our My Voice® Program has provided more than 300 communication devices in the last 7-months!
Last Thursday, WTAJ (based in Altoona) aired an incredible news story that gave an in depth look into 7-year-old Mia’s communication journey – going from no words, to a communication device, to speaking with her own voice!
Please take a moment to enjoy and share with others: www.wearecentralpa.com/news/local-news/communication-device-gives-huntingdon-county-girl-a-voice
We constantly hear from parents that My Voice is making a life-changing difference for kids and their families, and here are a few more reasons to smile.
8-year-old Jaxson recently received his new communication device (above), and his mom, Elizabeth described their hope, by saying,
“I believe this device will open up a whole new world of communication and socialization. It will help him grow his independence (which he will need someday), confidence, and happiness.
He has so much to say and I watch him struggle to tell someone what he wants or is thinking. Being able to join a conversation and responding is a dream – mine and his.”
Wilson’s excitement for his new communication device is out of this world (pictured above), and his mom, Kristine shared what it will mean, by saying,
“Wilson really only speaks in approximations. He does not say many words that are understandable to his teachers or family members who are not with him every day.
However, I know that Wilson knows a lot but has a hard time demonstrating his knowledge. A communication device will help him demonstrate to his teachers what he has learned and to indicate his needs to his family members.”
Please don’t miss these two stories from KDKA’s Kristine Sorensen, who shares powerful updates on Tyler and Mia, and their communication journey.
- Watch Tyler’s Story: https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2022/04/04/kidsburgh-variety-communication-devices
- Watch Mia’s Story: https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2022/04/04/kidsburgh-variety-the-childrens-charity
What’s most extraordinary is that Mia AND Tyler have gone from no voice of their own, to speaking through a communication device, to now speaking with their OWN voices.
Unfortunately, this won’t be the case for every child that receives their own device, but by equipping them with a communication device to have 24/7, My Voice® is giving kids a chance at discovering their own possibilities.
The hard truth is that kids and youth are living without a voice all around us, and it’s a hidden problem to most of society. Imagine for a moment if your child or grandchild was unable to communicate their feelings, wants, or needs at home…
I am so grateful Kristine, who is not only a terrific news reporter, but she brings her own authenticity as a parent to create awareness for this critical issue.
Last month, we got another update from Owen’s mom, Larissa, who shared, “Owen is doing so well that he doesn’t need the device anymore! Right after we got it, we were able to integrate his communication device into our dinner conversation, but then his speech took off so fast and all in one leap, and we can now (finally) understand Owen without the aid of his communication device!”
We simply don’t know what these kids are capable of accomplishing until we give them the chance or the right equipment.
Take good care,
P.S. I hope you’ll share this news piece with your network of family, friends, and peers to bring even greater awareness to the communication needs of children and youth.
Charles P. LaVallee
Chief Executive Officer
Variety – the Children’s Charity