Thursday, August 13, 2009

A Special Flying Colors Story

Once upon a time there was a little Ray of Hope camper named Justin. Justin started coming to camp 2 summers ago when he was 7. He and his 3 siblings had recently been removed from an abusive home and moved in with their aunt.

Justin also participates in Flying Colors (which is the program that I help run) which is held after camp is over every day from 3 - 5:30. When his aunt enrolled the kids in the program a few years ago, she pulled me aside and explained to me about Justin's extreme academic and school anxiety. He had some undiagnosed learning challenges that have kept him behind in school and he had developed a pervasive fear of failure.

The first year we had him in Flying Colors, he refused to even enter the "classroom" area because it reminded him of school. He would get sweaty and jittery. We worked with him and he was able to complete some assignments sitting in the hallway, but never really joined the class.

This year, Justin was doing better emotionally and so he progressed to being able to at least sit in with the class. He was very anxious about doing any school work but we paired him with a volunteer to help him one-on-one and that seemed to help.

Each kid had to set a goal for their multiplication "timings" (where they get 5 minutes to complete a page of 100 multiplication problems). Unfortunately, even though Justin is entering the 4th grade in the fall, he didn't know any of his multiplication tables. His volunteer partner and his teacher and him all worked together to decide that his goal would be to learn his 2's.

At the beginning of the summer, Justin couldn't even complete 1/2 of the worksheet with 50% accuracy. Daily he would get discouraged, and daily we would point out where he had improved, how he was working so hard and that we were proud of him. Slowly, he began to improve.

On Monday, Justin anxiously came up to his teacher and said, "I'll never finish the whole page. There's too many." She told him, "I bet you'll do better than you think you will. Just go a tiny bit faster than you did yesterday, and see what happens."

Justin's volunteer partner sat across from him and gave him a last minute encouragement before the timer began.

At 4 minutes, 38 seconds, Justin's hand shot in the air because he had finished his entire page. His volunteer buddy and him pumped their fists in the air and celebrated. When the timer went off, Justin ran to his sister and said, "I did it! I finished the page! And it was 2's!" They hugged and I rushed and got my camera and took his picture with his completed worksheet.

I've never seen a child so proud of himself. The whole class celebrated with him.

When Miss Alyssa corrected his work, she verified that he had completed the page with 100% accuracy. He was the first kid at Flying Colors to reach his goal this year.

"I'm not held back by what I can't do. I'm held back by what I think I can't do." - Jim Fay


Ashley said...

Best ROH story ever!!!

Next to the kid who ate his anger management contract, of course.

Anonymous said...

Great success story!


Anonymous said...

Such a fantastic story. Who knows what greatness this young man will go on to achieve with this experience of accomplishment. Congrats to all of you for making a difference in his life.