Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Stories of Giving from Michelle Garcia

We would like to tell you about Chantel Lopez and her non-profit organization Athletic Dreams. We believe that Mrs. Lopez’ selfless efforts to create and coach our daughters special needs cheer team makes her deserving of this recognition. Mrs. Lopez has continuously demonstrated her willingness to go above and beyond to benefit our children. Mrs. Lopez was driven by her passion for special needs children to create a competitive cheer team and organization that previously did not exist in our community. Mrs. Lopez has embraced what all children with disabilities deserve and has created this amazing cheer program for children with Autism. We are a small group of parents that just want to provide our children (who have many challenges) with the same opportunities that other children have. Mrs. Lopez has offered that to our girls. In addition to all the hours she puts in at the gym, Mrs. Lopez is the mother of four. Her three youngest children have challenges of their own. She has extended her personal experiences into the community to help others. By definition, autistic children experience a delay in social skills compared to their peers. Social skills are the foundation for a child to be able to function independently in school, work or maintain meaningful relationships with others. Social skills therapies for special needs children are not routinely provided by school or by health plans. For all of these reasons, as parents of special needs children, we recognize the importance of having our girls participate in numerous social skills groups and sport related activities. It is quite ingenious how Mrs. Lopez has combined her success in using applied behavioral analysis with her own children and her coaching abilities to provide this wonderful opportunity for our girls to experience being part of a team. She is patient, kind, caring and understanding to each of the girl’s needs and challenges and works with them accordingly. She has the ability to look beyond ones individual disability and identify the individuals’ strengths. She then collectively brings the strengths together creating a cohesive team environment. We admire Mrs. Lopez’ ability to see past the disabilities and challenges by having each team member do something we as parents would never have dreamed of them doing. She believes in them, treats them with respect. She gives of her own time every practice, regardless if there are one or five girls in attendance. Her time is spent making them achieve their goals. Her devotion to making our girls part of a “bigger picture” and “accepted by all” is seen each time we gather to practice. The world becomes a better place due to simple acts of compassion. Mrs. Lopez brings this to a whole other level. Her compassion directly impacts the special needs team. She teaches the typical cheerleaders tolerance for children with special needs. She has recruited these cheerleaders to volunteer their time to serve as role models and facilitate teaching our girls the cheer routines. Mrs. Lopez instills in them a sense of fulfillment by helping coach our girls to become part of their unique team. She’s utilizing the volunteer cheerleaders’ skills and talents to help others. While providing valuable opportunities to teach acceptance, compassion and build character for all who volunteer. Coach Chantel and these young women give from their hearts when working with our girls. The experience of participating in this program has given our daughters huge physical and personal growth. Each team member has gained confidence, friendships and the sense of “belonging”. These are all important areas that are often lacking for children with Autism and various other conditions. Mrs. Lopez has gone above and beyond to bring an inclusive competitive cheer program to our area that is making a difference in the lives of children with Autism and other special needs. She goes above and beyond by looking past individual limitations. Instead, she see’s their possibilities are limitless! There are no words for how much we appreciate what Mrs. Lopez has done to benefit our children who have so many challenges. Mrs. Lopez deserves recognition for her dedication and determination to make these children with disabilities gleam with pride at their own accomplishments. It is with enormous appreciation for her dedication to special needs children that we share Mrs. Lopez Story of Giving. Sincerely, Michelle Garcia, Nan Doyle, Sandra Zaragoza-Kaneki, Deanne Bialy, and Jodi Crutchfield Parents of the Shining Stars Team

No comments:

Post a Comment