Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean.
Every day at the Achievement Centers for Children, we see our staff go above and beyond for the families we serve, taking a personal interest in their child’s progress and their family’s well-being. Through their expertise and caring, they provide services to help children reach their greatest potential. Sometimes, that “one drop,” or connection made with one family, has the potential to reach outside their home influencing many others and that small drop “becomes an ocean,” as we saw recently with one young mother, Shaneice Ball and her son Chase.
Shaneice enrolled with the Achievement Centers for Children’s Help Me Grow (HMG) program, funded by the Ohio Department of Health, and met our home visitor, Teresa, who provided education and support to Shaneice throughout her pregnancy and shared in her delight when her son Chase was born. Now, over a year later, Teresa continues to visit Shaneice offering additional education about Chase’s development and helping Shaneice access community resources. Last spring, Teresa suggested an infant massage class being offered by the Achievement Centers, and Shaneice eagerly signed up for the 5-class series led by Kristine Snell, Coordinator of our Early Childhood Mental Health (ECMH) program. She found the experience to be especially beneficial in enriching her bonding experience with her baby, and Chase continues to enjoy his massage time with his mother.
Teresa and Kristine could see that Shaneice was growing in her confidence as a parent to Chase, and had a special interest in helping other families as well. When an opportunity arose through the national Zero To Three organization for one of our parents to be a family advocate at an event in Washington, D.C., Theresa and Kristine encouraged Shaneice to apply. Families were chosen from applications to travel to Washington, D.C. as part of Zero To Three’s “Strolling Thunder” event bringing families from across the country to speak to legislators and advocate for education, healthcare, and quality, affordable child care for their babies and their families. Shaneice applied, and was awarded an all-expense paid trip for the event that took take place Tuesday, May 8th. For Shaneice, Chase and his grandmother, this was their first plane ride, followed by joining hundreds of other parents and babies with strollers at the Capital building.
As part of the event, Shaneice communicated to legislators that “We want the best for our children. It’s important for all children to have an education and safe access to parks and community activities.” She had successful meetings with representatives of both Senator Rob Portman and Senator Sherrod Brown. As they were leaving Sherrod Brown’s office, they saw the senator and talked with him directly. Their last meeting was with Congresswoman Marcia Fudge, U.S. Representative for Ohio’s 11th congressional district, who brought the message back to Shaneice’s community here in Cleveland.
After the event, Shaneice said she felt “blessed and thankful for the opportunity to meet with legislators and help advocate for all families.” She was surprised at how large the event was, and how many families were there to advocate with legislators. Networking with other parents and hearing their personal stories inspired Shaneice to become even more informed and involved. Currently a student at Tri-C, she said she “wants to know what’s going on and what we can do to help. It inspired me to be an advocate.” Shaneice, through her passion and desire to improve the lives of others, realized she could be a catalyst for change. From our staff reaching out to help Shaneice initially through the Help Me Grow program, to her meetings with our government leadership advocating for families, we see how changing one life can grow to positively affect change for so many.
"I feel blessed and thankful for the opportunity to meet with legislators and help advocate for all families."Shaneice Ball