Meeting Challenges and Beating the Odds


“He’s writing his name,” said Miss Jackie proudly as she pointed out Kirby’s latest achievement posted in the classroom. We were talking about the progress that Kirby has made during his time at SouthSide and his upcoming transition to kindergarten.

Just a year ago, Kirby viewed a pencil as an object perfectly suited to poke someone with, or easily broken with a simple ‘snap.’ Today, he uses a pencil to write his name in clear block print. His teachers are most excited about Kirby’s attitude toward learning. Over the past year he has become more and more curious about the material that is presented during the two-week long classroom studies. “He asks a lot of questions now,” said Miss Jackie. “He really wants to know more about the things we are learning – he just wasn’t doing that at the beginning of the year.”

Kirby’s desire to understand will serve him well as he makes the transition to kindergarten this summer. We at SouthSide strive to develop that curiosity in each child, along with the “basics” of kindergarten readiness such as letter and number recognition, fine and gross motor skills and most importantly, social skills and resilience.

Kirby’s life is full of challenges: he has developmental delays and will continue to receive services in elementary school. His home life has been chaotic over the past year, and his family has counted on SouthSide for support and referrals to a variety of services in the community. SouthSide’s consistent, full-day routine of care, love and support has helped maintain a steady course toward a successful future.

Kirby, like one-third of children enrolled at SouthSide, needs extra attention to address learning and developmental delays. In his pre-kindergarten year, Kirby received 75 hours of speech and language therapy from developmental specialists, such as our partners from the Belle Center; 26 hours of small group time in 105 sessions throughout the year with a teacher and one or two other children focusing on math and literacy; two parent-teacher conferences and two home visits. His parents connected with our family services and mental health staff dozens of times for assistance with housing, medical, legal and employment assistance. Thanks to generous donations from foundations, corporations, individuals and the United Way, these services are provided free of charge and on-site at SouthSide.

Kirby’s road forward won’t be an easy one – he will continue to need support from his new school, and we plan to stay connected with his family, find out how he is doing and provide encouragement and assistance in any way we can. Kirby, like all of our alumni, will always be a member of the SouthSide family.