Last week we welcomed two new students to UPMA. This is always exciting and sometimes a bit challenging as well. Sometimes the newness is just too much for a student with disabilities. It is easy for them to get overwhelmed and for them to want to retreat inward.
That is exactly what happened to Raymond. He came to class with his parents and was so overwhelmed, that he refused to even get on the mat. This is where the never give up attitude of the coaches at UPMA really makes a difference. Throughout the course of class both Coach Kristen and Coach Sam took turns spending one on one time with Raymond. It started with just getting him to move closer to the mat. Eventually we were able to get him to punch the focus mitts and block when a soft ball was tossed towards him. With each new task we could see his interest peaking. It took the entire hour, but by the end of class, Raymond had stepped on the mat. A small victory, but a victory none the less.
What a delight it was to see Raymond arrive in class this week. He came running down the walkway with a huge smile on his face. He took his shoes off, bowed, came on the mat and never looked back. Not only did he smile the WHOLE TIME, he listened to instruction and watched as his fellow classmates took their turns. What a blessing to be able to take a student that probably would have been turned away elsewhere and to give him the simple gift of recreation that most people take for granted. We look forward to seeing Raymond grow over the coming months.