Twin brothers Sam and Zak Erickson have always had a great relationship and are getting closer with each passing year.
But that’s where the similarity ends for these 12-year-old boys, who are sixth-graders at the Atlantic Middle School in Quincy. Zak likes Harry Potter books, may become a Broadway star and thinks about going to Harvard one day.
Sam is more the construction-manager type. He’s a gigantic Red Sox fan, asks lots of questions and likes to tell everybody what to do. He can be charming and funny, but he also has a stubborn streak a mile wide.
Sam’s ability to ask questions and advocate for himself will be increasingly important to him in the coming years. That’s because unlike Zak, Sam has cerebral palsy, uses a wheelchair and has to work hard to make his speech understood.
Easter Seals Assistive Technology Specialist Kristi Voelkerding first met Sam and his educational team when he was in elementary school. With help from Kristi and his teachers, Sam has been working hard to succeed in the classroom and become more independent.
Patti Erickson, his mom, says Kristi and Sam are a great team. “They get along very well,” she said. “Kristi’s demeanor is kind of quiet, but then she can be very funny. That all rolls with Sam.”
She and her husband, Jon, also appreciate Kristi’s work with Sam’s teachers. “Kristi is very patient and knows how to politely suggest how things should be done.” Patti added. “They all appreciate her expertise. She helps them understand what Sam can do.”
Kristi also is helping Sam’s parents understand the possibilities that are open to him. “We have aspirations for Sam,” Patti said, “and with help from Kristi and the folks at Easter Seals, he’ll be able to get to where he can go.”
The services Sam is receiving were made possible by a partnership between Easter Seals and the Quincy Public Schools.