Judy arrives at Vision Forward and lights up the room with her smile. She loves to say “hi” to greet her friends and teachers. “She’s just a happy little girl,” said Judy’s mom, Katie (pictured above).
Seeing Judy today, it can be hard to imagine where she and her family were five years ago. Judy and her twin were born prematurely with a birth weight of less than two pounds. Sadly, Judy’s sister Catherine did not survive.
Judy’s fight was not easy; she suffered breathing issues, seizures, visual impairment, and other health challenges. “When I found out she was blind, I was truly scared,” recalled Katie.
After nearly six months in the hospital, Judy was finally able to come home permanently with ongoing support. Soon, Katie discovered that Judy struggled with transitioning to eating pureed and solid foods and with developing her communication skills. When Judy was one year old, Katie turned to Vision Forward.
Vision Forward provides a continuum of services to children with visual impairments, helping them achieve developmental milestones. All programs and services are provided regardless of a family’s ability to pay. United Way funding supports these programs.
Vision Forward therapists worked in-home with Judy and Katie on key developmental skills, like practicing simple sounds, developing sign language, and learning to eat more solid foods.
“(The therapist) came to our home and answered all my questions,” said Katie. “At first I was so scared, but she explained everything she was doing and truly helped me understand my own daughter.”
“She reassured me that Judy will be able to live a good life,” said Katie. “All I want is for her to be happy.”
At three years old, Judy transitioned to Vision Forward’s preschool, where teachers and therapists continued to support her development. Katie received daily updates on Judy’s progress and support with navigating insurance and how to secure Judy a walker.
“Every time I walk through the doors at Vision Forward, they ask me how I’m doing,” said Katie. “They know it’s a lot as a parent and are so supportive and loving.”
Today, Judy is a happy and thriving kindergartener. “She just started calling me ‘mom’ instead of ‘mommy’ and loves getting into everything,” said Katie. “And, of course, she’s always smiling!”
Judy and Vision Forward remind us all that to live better, we must Live United.
Donations to United Way’s Community Fund support Vision Forward and other nonprofits in our community ensuring everyone has access to the resources they need to thrive. Consider supporting this important work with a donation to United Way’s Community Fund.