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Fifteen years ago Jeremy received a scholarship from Kicklighter Academy that was made possible by the funds provided by United Way of the Coastal Empire. A scholarship that would have a lifelong impact.

From a young age, Jeremy showed obvious signs of autism – a developmental disability significantly affecting verbal and non-verbal communication and social interaction.

“He wouldn’t talk, he wouldn’t look me in the eye. It was like he was in his own little world, and I couldn’t figure out how to reach him,” Genevieve, Jeremy’s mother, said.

Kicklighter Academy provides education to children with and without autism and other developmental and physical disabilities by using the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and Verbal Behavior (VB).

“When Jeremy first went to Kicklighter, I kept a list of words he knew on a document; the list started to grow so quickly, I couldn’t keep up anymore,” Genevieve said. “He came out of his shell, and I finally could talk to my son.”

With the tools and education Kicklighter provided Jeremy, he was able to be enrolled in a mainstream school and learn alongside ‘regular’ kids.

“My favorite class is my history class and learning new things in my Spanish class,” Jeremy said.

Jeremy is just like every other 17-year-old boy and enjoys playing video games, going to the movies, and hanging out with his friends.

“Every parents fear is what is going to happen to my kid when I’m gone, but now I know he will be okay on his own,” said Genevieve.

By using the method of integrating special needs with regular developing children in a classroom setting it is proven to have a lifelong impact and increase the chance of an independent life for a person with autism, according to Kicklighter Academy.

“After school I plan to go to college and get a good job.” Jeremy said. “I’d really like to travel more and learn about other countries too.”

Jeremy’s story is one of many that displays that when you give to United Way of the Coastal Empire your donation is more than just a one-time gift, but a gift that last a lifetime. Funding provided to Kicklighter by United Way made the scholarship Jeremy received possible.

Give to United Way today and make an impact on someone’s life.

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