“I think the most special part of Justin being at JPII is that he has friends.”
– Tisa U.
Friendships and meaningful social interactions are essential for children to be successful and happy. For those with disabilities, building friendships and interacting appropriately can be difficult, but with the proper support and guidance, it isn’t impossible.
“Before coming to JPII, Justin would cry for hours asking why he didn’t have any friends. He couldn’t understand why he wasn’t fitting in,” says his mother, Tisa. “When his friends all showed up to his Sweet 16 birthday, and we heard them laughing and watched them playing games, well, that moment meant everything.”
Equipped with more confidence and better social skills, today, Justin shares his skills with younger students.
“Last year, I paired Justin with a new student in the kitchen. Justin was patient and explained ‘why’ we do certain procedures. He showed a level of leadership and true mentoring that he didn’t possess before coming to JPII,” shares Rene’ Berkhammer, the secondary teacher/transition coordinator.
“We enjoy being a family again.”
Tisa, Justin’s mother, shares that the skills he learns while at JPII extend beyond the classroom.
“My favorite thing about Justin being at JPII is that he has learned to be more independent and has learned self-control.
He got a job this summer and was able to get up on his own, get ready for work and walk there himself. One day his brother showed up to pick him up after work, and Justin became upset and told his brother that he could walk home himself because he was trained on how to do so at school.
Justin’s attending JPII has helped the whole family. We no longer walk on eggshells, worried that we will upset him and cause him to melt down. The meltdowns are almost gone, so we enjoy being a family again.”
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