Leading the way
One word to describe him: Awesome
Bryce was the first child through the Autism Spectrum Disorder Clinic at Easterseals in January of 2003. He loves to keep busy through helping around the house and in the community, and to be creative through art projects, singing, dancing, and acting in the Penguin Project, which produces musicals every year starring individuals with disabilities and their peer mentors. He is currently working on his 7th production and has had speaking roles in 4 of the productions. Bryce also loves planning and going on vacations.
Bryce’s parents want him to always have a purpose driven life, in a place where he is happy and celebrated — not just tolerated. To their family, inclusion is a feeling of acceptance not a place. The barriers to achieve inclusion need to be removed for individuals to achieve their greatest potential. His mom shares that “it has always been important for us to work hard so that Bryce is a member of his community. That includes being in classes with his Gen Ed peers as a part of his school community, going to restaurants and stores in our local community, and travelling the world as a part of his global community. Bryce loves to fly on airplanes, ride on subways, trains, and buses. He has explored much of the US, Canada, Mexico and Europe. He loves hiking and driving through mountains and National Parks. He has explored Denali in Alaska, the French Alps, the Smokey Mountains, and the Rocky Mountains from New Mexico to the Canadian Rockies. Inclusion means that Bryce is accepted wherever he is in the world.”
For their family, being empowered means having the knowledge to confidently advocate for Bryce and other families with special needs children. Together with friends and partners, they have hosted an annual gathering of nearly 100 organizations from around Central Illinois for the past 13 years to showcase their services across the special needs community. They have also worked with their school district to adopt programs to foster empowerment and inclusion.
His mom shares that “Bryce has grown tremendously from our early days with Easterseals, and we continue to observe and celebrate that growth daily. Some memorable highlights include riding his bicycle without training wheels, using his language to convince us to get a puppy, graduating with his high school class, and planning vacations. Through the Penguin Project he has demonstrated growth in his acting ability, delivering multiple lines in speaking roles on stage in front of more than 1000 people.”