A few weeks ago, P.G. Chambers School and the community celebrated our 11th Annual Golf Classic. It was a truly beautiful day at Roxiticus Golf Club in Mendham, New Jersey. Fun was had by all. As the sun set and dinner was served, guests were treated to the story of the Farfield family, told by the father, Russell. His son, Spencer, was enrolled in P.G. Chambers School Kids Count Childcare program for the past few years. As you will read, Russell said that enrolling his son in Kids Count, “…changed things dramatically, and changed [my family’s] life forever.”
Please read the entire text below. We would like to take this opportunity to thank Russell for his words that night. They serve as a dynamic way to demonstrate the impact that P.G. Chambers School and Kids Count has on our students, as well as children in the community. This kind of story, one of real change, is the type that makes us smile!
“My son was born 9 weeks premature and weighed a little over 3 pounds. He spent 5 weeks in the NICU fighting and growing strong enough to maintain his own body temperature and come home. By 6 months we noticed that our little smile machine wasn’t holding his head up well or rolling over. His grandfather said “boy he’s going to be a fighter – he always has his fists ready”! At 11 months we got an MRI that showed white matter, essentially scar tissue, where there should have been grey matter in his brain. This confirmed a diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy.
We had no idea of what this meant, but we were in for a thorough education. For the next 2 years we endured a seemingly unending barrage of medical experts who wanted to be sure we understood all the things that our beautiful, happy boy would never do: run, jump, walk, crawl, sit up on his own, hold a conversation without drooling (if he could speak at all), hold a pen, and on, and on. One thing he would certainly do – wear very thick glasses at least until he went blind in all likelihood.
Even after he started achieving some of these milestones – crawling, holding his head high, walking with a walker and speaking both English and French- we had educators tell us that since the law required it, they would make room for him in school. Then after a year, they very compassionately told us that because he could not draw a perfect stick figure with eyes, nose and mouth like a 3yr old should, he should certainly continue his education in a day hospital. Needless to say school was not a happy place for our son.
While you may find it hard to believe, I assure you that every one of these comments were made to our faces, and some of them multiple times. This paints a very dark picture. But things get better, and I only share this dismal place so that you can understand the contrast that follows. I’m happy to tell you that things changed dramatically and changed forever.
In 2013 we found the P.G. Chambers School, and enrolled our son in the Kids Count PreK program run by Carolyn Young and a fantastic team of remarkable ladies. When I tell you that it was like a curtain lifting and the clouds parting it is no exaggeration. For those of you who may not know, Kids Count is an inclusion program for infants through PreK. Inclusion means that children with disabilities or delays and typically developing children learn and laugh, and eat and play, and blossom- together – side by side.
Even beyond the wonderful, dedicated staff what sets Kids Count apart is that as part of P.G. Chambers School, the staff has access to all of the experts, resources, technology, equipment and creativity of the entire P.G. Chambers School community to pull in anytime it will benefit a child. And God bless them, they use it every chance they get. Those who need services, get them from some of the most dedicated therapists you could ever hope to imagine. But, because Kids Count is part of P.G. Chambers School, those therapies don’t end the minute the child is returned to class. They are not an add-on or an afterthought; they are integrated into every facet of every activity all day long.
Under the caring eyes of Carolyn, Christen, and team, my son ran full tilt into that environment and was met with open and loving arms and he never looked back. In an instant he went from being the handicapped kid in school, to Spencer, the boy who happened to use a walker.
This past August we said a very bitter-sweet farewell to the Kids Count team, as Spencer graduated on to the Kindergarten in our local school district. I drew the short straw and had the task of picking Spencer up on his last day. I had to send Carolyn an email beforehand to thank her and the team. Frankly I knew I was going to be a mess once I got there and I wanted to be sure I could express how much we appreciated not just what they do, but how they do it – day in and day out. Going to Kindergarten meant we were leaving P.G. Chambers School behind. But it meant that we were doing so with a child who looked forward to going to school, who was prepared to succeed in learning. We were doing so as parents who knew what our son was capable of, and had the evidence of what was possible. We had the physical proof and confirmation of what we always knew in our hearts! I feel sorry for the next person who tries to tell us what our son can’t do, they are likely to find walker tracks across their forehead!
This is what P.G. Chambers School has meant to us. Unless you have experienced this as a parent, I am not sure that I can explain to you how unique and comforting this is. It means respite, it means sanctuary. It is finally one place where you don’t have to fight, just to get what should be. It means there is not just someone, but an entire organization that believes in everything your child can achieve and aspire to. And will encourage them every step of the way.
When you support P.G. Chambers School, this is what you are supporting, and you should feel really good about it. THANK YOU! This is why my family and I continue to support their efforts. They make a difference, one amazing child at a time. If you doubt it, come watch Spencer run the Children’s Race at the next 5K!”