Stories: Alicia’s very premature birth meant she would face challenges, your support has helped her meet them

This story comes courtesy of Jo-Ann Hinkle, executive director, Madonna Learning Center. Names and images have been changed to protect privacy.

alicia's story

Alicia excels in her academics through the help of Madonna Learning Center, part of United Way's network of care

Alicia is a lovely young lady who just celebrated her “sweet 16th” birthday, a milestone her family could only imagine when she was born very premature, facing physical and mental development challenges she will carry throughout her life.

Alicia’s physical and cognitive challenges require her to receive the type of special care offered at the Madonna Learning Center, a nonprofit organization that is supported by your gifts to United Way of the Mid-South. Since the age of 5, Alicia has participated in activities at the center, making strong academic progress in the areas of reading, spelling and utilizing expressive language.

“These have always been Alicia’s strengths and she takes great pride in doing well in her class work,” one of her agency counselors reported.

As Alicia entered adolescence, counselors prepared her to effectively and positively handle the changing feelings and behavior that teenagers encounter. Working with Alicia’s parents, the center created a plan to protect and support Alicia, helping her understand the need to modify her behavior, be accountable for her own actions and accept consequences for inappropriate conduct.

The counselor said that Alicia can now better express her feelings, especially feelings of anger or dissatisfaction, more appropriately.

Your Support Impacts Lives“Alicia has learned to be more flexible when asked to engage in non-preferred activities,” the counselor said. “This change has given Alicia new feelings of success and confidence, with deeper and more affirming connections to her family and peers.”

Counselors at the learning center are proud of Alicia’s progress, and they have asked her to become an ambassador for the agency.

Thanks to your support of United Way, Alicia now speaks to community groups about her life and what she has learned at the center. Your support makes a difference!

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