Amway & Easter Seals - The Miracle in the Bronx

Special Needs Met by Special People
Jul 18, 2013 9:00 AM ET

Humbled in the Bronx

“Your child has special needs.”

It’s a diagnosis no parent wants to hear. Immediately, they begin to think about the implications of a life with great challenges. Simple milestones like walking, talking or picking up a toy will require therapy, practice and patience.

In The Bronx, New York, parents face even more obstacles, because they often cannot afford the custom services their child needs. Many do not speak English, which makes it difficult to advocate for their son or daughter.

That’s where Easter Seals steps in. Powered by caring workers, dedicated volunteers, and generous supporters, at the Easter Seals Child Development Center in the Bronx, miracles are taking place. Here, they serve more than 100 preschool-aged children, providing classroom experiences, physical, occupational and speech therapy, in a loving, creative environment.

We spoke to Patricia Cosom, who told us about her son Fantia, age 5. He was born with fluid in his ears that caused hearing loss and other development delays. In a few years at the Center, big changes have happened.

“When he first came here, he fell anywhere from 30 to 50 times a day,” Patricia says. “The falling is zero, no more falls. Before coming, he was totally non-verbal. I could not communicate with him in any kind of way. They’ve taught him sign language, how to communicate, how to meet his needs without having to throw a temper tantrum. I can actually understand what he’s saying, what he’s trying to say.”

Fantia greets all of the guests at the center, walking up and shaking their hands. You would never know that he had so much to overcome. You would never know he once had problems recognizing people and their names.

Another Mother, Natasha Miranda, talks about the milestones that her daughter Leslie, age 4, has reached. “She plays. She reads. She writes a lot. She talks. She interacts with the kids and the staff,” Natasha says. “Staff will literally call you and say your child is doing great. I love how she’s doing.”

On Friday, we visited the Center with Amway Independent Business Owners (IBOs) who are regular visitors, and regular supporters.

Amway IBOs have visited the Bronx Center many times, and use stories like Fontia’s as inspiration to give, volunteer, serve on local boards, and inspire others to get involved. The Easter Seals partnership with Amway spans more than 30 years, and has raised more than $32 million.

Many point to leaders like Bill and Peggy Britt, Amway IBO leaders and members of the Amway Founders Council, who have integrated giving and service into their lifestyle, and encouraged others to get involved.

How do they do it? Check back to learn more about Walk With Me.

Thanks to Patricia Cosom, Natasha Miranda, Angela Torres, Tom Renart, John McGrath and the entire Child Development Center staff for their hospitality and dedication to the children they serve. Click here for more photos.

Tags: Britt, Bronx, Easter Seals, Founders Council, New York, Special Needs
Category: United States

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