Anyone who has had the chance to visit United Cerebral Palsy’s Preschool would have a hard time missing Kayden King’s welcoming smile and cheerful personality.
Kayden, a member of UCP Preschool’s K4 class, is a joy to be around. “Kayden is a very fun, loving, dramatic and outgoing child. He’s also very affectionate and sometimes a little selfish, but all in all he’s one of the most mannerable kids you would want to meet. Family and friends are his everything,” says Tora, Kayden’s mother.
Kayden has been working with United Cerebral Palsy since the start, getting to know the organization through his time receiving therapy through UCP’s Early Intervention program. When it was time to choose where Kayden would attend school for the first time, Tora says, “I could not turn down the opportunity, it just felt right.” She was attracted by the fact that UCP’s Preschool has a blended classroom, meaning that children with disabilities share the classroom with typical peers. Allowing typical peers in the classroom offers a model for behaviors such as speech and play. “He’s getting the opportunity to interact with kids that are like him and others that are not, but still being treated normally,” says his mother.
There is no question that Kayden loves his friends and his teachers. “I love the fact that my child gets excited when it’s time for school. It lets me know that he is comfortable and being treated with love.” He is also a very vocal support for his classmates in their triumphs. Kayden himself has had many personal triumphs during his time with UCP Preschool. “Kayden’s first few years of schooling have been amazing. My son has learned things beyond my expectations. I’m impressed because on certain levels he knows more than some kids his age without a disability… Kayden is more a people person now, his vocabulary has grown and he is no longer afraid to explore and try different things that he would normally be afraid of. It makes me a proud parent,” says Tora.
In cooperation with the Mobile County Public School System, United Cerebral Palsy of Mobile offers preschool classes to approximately 25 children with disabilities and their typical peers each year. UCP’s preschool classes allow students to combine typical preschool activities such as story time and crafts with their individual regimen of speech, occupational and/or physical therapy.