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Tom and Tammy Kenkel found out while pregnant that their daughter Emily was prenatally diagnosed with Down syndrome. While most people would find their worlds turned upside down, instead, they immediately reacted from the news by trying to establish their support network they would need to surpass the challenges they might face as a family. That support network was based in finding the United Way funded agency, Kicklighter Resource Center.

The Kicklighter Academy provides an inclusive learning environment at the Resource Center for children with and without disabilities. Ninety-three percent of pre-school age children with special needs in United Way funded programs progressed in developmental areas to help them succeed academically, just like Emily.

Tom, Tammy, and Emily have reached developmental milestones ahead of time thanks to Kicklighter Academy and United Way. Emily Kenkel started attending the Kicklighter Academy at only 10 weeks old. They sent the videos of Emily’s first steps to Tom and Tammy while they were at work so they can all share in the special moments together. And there, Emily can grow up having expectations of how people are supposed to be treated because of the inclusive environment.

The Kenkel Family is thankful for United Way and Kicklighter Academy for playing the important role in the community so that their family can thrive.

You can help support more families like the Kenkels by giving to United Way .

*NDSSS Language Guide for children with Down syndrome

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