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The joy of helping others

Eli Harrell close-up smiling

All young children experience behavior issues sometimes. For most kids, it’s a normal part of learning to handle their emotions. It was different for Eli. Even as a very young child, frustrations and disappointments completely overwhelmed him. Eli’s uncontrollable and even dangerous reactions weren’t “just” tantrums; he was diagnosed with impulsivity disorder and extreme anxiety.

Eli’s at-home day care tried to deal with his challenges, but it was such a struggle that his parents feared they would be asked to remove him. Fortunately they found the Easterseals Early Learning Center when Eli was 2 years old. Enrolling him in the Center’s inclusive LEAD Academy began a long-term team effort to help Eli, involving his family, therapists, Easterseals staff, and friends like YOU who make the program possible.

There were no quick fixes. There were challenging times when Eli’s parents feared he would be asked to leave Easterseals. But the Early Learning Center staff assured them they would not give up on Eli. They discovered a big key to Eli’s success when they realized how much he loves art. He was rewarded for his progress with visits to the Early Learning Center’s “Golf Gives Back” Art Enrichment Studio to explore his creativity.

Eli’s progress skyrocketed when the staff offered him opportunities to help other kids at the Early Learning Center. Eli thrived as a peer helper, especially when assisting children with disabilities. Eli worked hard to manage his behavior, earning the chance to be a leader in the art studio and other activities.

Now Eli finds true joy in helping others, and his new sense of responsibility and confidence has directly impacted his success. Now, when Eli feels overwhelmed, he recognizes it’s time for him to take a break, and he uses the skills he has learned to get through those rough periods.

At age 5, Eli achieved a milestone that once seemed out of reach. He graduated from LEAD Academy at the Easterseals Early Learning Center and was ready for public school kindergarten!

Because of caring people like YOU, children of all abilities thrive in the Easterseals Rehabilitation Center’s many programs. THANK YOU for helping all kids reach their greatest potential!

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