Meet Cody, a very active young boy who relishes in playtime and can often be found in St. Francis Children’s Center’s Family Activity Center each week playing with toys or sliding down our slide.

A few days after his birth, Cody was diagnosed with Down syndrome, catching his family by surprise. “We weren’t given a lot of support or information, so we turned to the Internet. It was a scary place,” his mother Tami explained.

Overwhelmed by his diagnosis and the unknown, Cody’s family decided to take it day by day.

Cody soon started receiving Early Intervention/Birth to Three services at St. Francis Children’s Center first at home and then at the Center in one of our inclusive Early Childhood Education classrooms. Cody would come in twice a week to participate in all the fun classroom activities while also working on specific goals with his therapists. He graduated from the program when he turned three in 2016. Throughout his time in the program, he progressed and grew tremendously, especially in the areas of socialization and citizenship.

Tami explained, “I really think all his progress is in large part due to St. Francis Children’s Center’s inclusive environment. His therapy team really worked together for his best interests.”

Cody’s family takes advantage of all Cody has learned during his time at St. Francis by applying techniques at home. They also started coming to the Family Activity Center (FAC) as soon as it opened in order to take advantage of the many resources it has to offer such as therapeutic toys and games. Tami encourages new families to participate in FAC events and activities and even volunteered her talents to lead an art adventure class over the summer.

“It is inspiring to work with children of all abilities, and I am grateful to have this opportunity to encourage and give them a hands on opportunity to create art!” said Tami.

Today Cody is close to turning four and attends school in Milwaukee with typically developing peers with additional support where he needs it. His family encourages his learning and development by taking him to special events held at the FAC and enrolling him in things like a therapeutic horseback riding class, something he really loves.

“I just want him to be happy and for him to know that he can achieve all he wants. I don’t want him to shoot for low goals just because he has a disability.” Tami said. “My son is capable of great things!”

By Melanie Reach and Kara Petersen