Seventeen-year-old Aiden has big dreams for his future. While working in the Patchwork Café during the Festival of Quilts last month, he shared his job considerations with several campus visitors. His list ranged dramatically from astrophysicist to automotive mechanic to pastor to illusionist.
Through Cunningham's Vocational Options Program, Aiden worked in the Café using both the skills he has developed with the help of staff and learned through his part-time vocational placement as a bus boy. He easily struck up conversations with visitors and charmed them with a sleight of hand illusion where he made a quarter seemingly disappear before their eyes.
Due to extreme neglect in his infancy, a cycle of abuse through his early teens, and multiple learning disabilities, Aiden has struggled with social skills most of his life. He has worked hard to manage his impulse control, develop skills to interact with others, and control his anger and aggression.
Aiden's interactions in the Café are small but powerful examples of the success he is having through his work in Cunningham's programs.
As Aiden wraps up his junior year at Gerber School he is experiencing triumphs in his academic and personal life too. He has repeatedly surprised his teachers and staff by stepping into more challenging and independent opportunities. In school, he has successfully moved to a high school schedule which requires transitioning between classrooms, a struggle for many of our youth.
Thanks to support from donors like you, Aiden recently began participating in an independent special recreation opportunity with equine therapy. He speaks proudly of the new skills he is learning through horseback riding, like saddling and grooming the horses, and the calming impact the animals have on him.
Each of these victories are cause for celebration as Aiden continues his hard work focusing on his relationship building and appropriate interactions with others. Aiden continues to believe his future is full of possibility and we are inclined to agree!