Hello, Bright Start Families!
I hope everyone is doing well and enjoying fall. I have the great pleasure of introducing one of your fellow Bright Start families today. The Calderons are Natalia, Oscar, and their little Ariana. A few years ago, Bright Start EIs had the honor of having Natalia speak at one of our monthly staff meetings. I was instantly inspired by her strength and positive attitude. She truly made me, and probably many others in that room that day, realize that I am in the right job. When I had the idea to periodically “spotlight” different families for this blog, theirs was among the first that came to mind. I told Natalia that I feel like you all would love to hear her story and she was more than willing to share. Here are the Calderons:
Natalia and Oscar have been married for over 10 years. Natalia said, “For a very long time, we did like many other couples—we prayed for a sweet baby. It took a little help, but we were finally blessed with our Ariana. She is the light of our life and has opened our hearts to endless possibilities. She has helped us grow and learn about acceptance”. Meet Ariana:
The Calderons have been a Bright Start Family since 2013. Ariana was born that May and had to stay in the hospital for three months. Of Bright Start services, Natalia said, “We are blessed to have had Bright Start from the beginning.” After finally being able to bring sweet Ariana from the hospital, “we had Tanvi knocking at our front door within a month’s time”. Tanvi Solanki was their EI until she moved out of town. Now, our Kathy Sykes gets the privilege of serving this awesome family. “There is no way possible to share all that Bright Start (Tanvi & Kathy) has done for us. All I can say is that we would not be where we are without them and we feel in our hearts that this has become a lifelong relationship.”
I asked Natalia what she would like to say to other parents of babies with Down Syndrome. She said, “It’s hard. It’s scary. The diagnosis, the doctors telling you how much your life is going to change… “. She now tells families that the doctors were right! “It IS hard and it IS scary…just like it is when any family brings home a new baby”. Bringing home your baby with Down Syndrome just takes you along “a different path”. She describes the pace of this path as a bit slower in many cases, “but it’s a good slower pace. By no means is it easy, but with the right tools and people surrounding your family, it will be a grand, if not your best, journey in life!”.
I asked her about how Ariana is doing now that she is three years old. “Ariana is doing amazing! We have such an amazing team. She receives weekly therapies. And Mommy is getting great instructions and ideas to help Ariana meet her developmental goals.” She shared that Ariana “loves to play with her dollhouse and Barbies” and that “she does great with her homework and loves music and dancing”.
I then sat down with Kathy, the Calderon’s EI. I knew that this was a special family, but listening to Kathy talk about them, I realized that they are exceptional! Here’s some of what Kathy had to say, “Ariana’s success is proof of what a child can achieve when their parents set high expectations. Ariana’s mother has an attitude that Ariana can & will achieve everything her typically developing peers are achieving. Natalia has an unrelenting commitment to enriching Ariana’s development by making their home a learning environment. On any given day you can find the family engaged in art, crafts, pretend play or structured learning activities. You can also find Oscar singing Disney princess songs with his little girl, which is a labor of love and really fun to watch! They have cultivated this love of learning in Ariana from the beginning, which is why she is a thriving three-year-old bundle of joy & energy.”
Thank you, Natalia and Oscar, for choosing Bright Start! You may think that you are just learning from us, but what we are learning from you is invaluable. We are honored to have you in our Bright Start Family and we know that Ariana is going to do great things!