Hearts of Gold Walk at University Park Mall this weekend

There are many kids born with disabilities that will last a lifetime. Others are faced with life threatening diseases like cancer.

In Michiana, Memorial Children's Hospital works with these kids each day to give them the best tools possible to live their lives like other children.

This weekend, the Hearts of Gold Walk at University Park Mall will have teams of families and friends out walking to raise money for these special children.

Among them will be Team Jackson.

Jackson Schalliol of Granger is like most 7-year-old boys. He is full of boundless energy and loves to keep moving. However, until two months ago no one was really sure how he felt or what he wanted.

Jackson has autism and is nonverbal, but he comes once a week to Memorial Children’s Therapy Center and it is making a huge difference.

His mom, Mary, says they tried various forms of communication from sign language to PECS’s cards but she says the breakthrough he has made here is amazing.

An app is giving him a voice he did not have before.

Jammie Herendeen, Jackson’s occupational therapist, works in tandem with his speech therapist, Elizabeth Learnard.

Until two months ago, Jackson could not verbalize what he wanted to do but Jammie explains that has all changed.

Jammie says, “We let us lead his activities by telling us with this communications board. He just took off and flew with it.”

Elizabeth explains how it works, “This app on here is called words for life. It's put out by the Prentke Romich Company and it's based on the idea of core language. All of us use about 350 words to communicate. Those are the most common words we use every day and those are the words that are located on the homepage right here. We've seen a lot more verbal speech come out. The device will talk and then he'll talk after it.”

Mary says it has made a big difference at both home and school.

She says, “I knew after the first therapy session with Elizabeth and Jammie that this was really going to change his life. The device that they had here was really going to open up a lot of doors for him. He can communicate with us; tell us his wants and needs. It's a learning process but it's been a huge change in our life at home.”

This gives Jackson the freedom to tell Jammie and Elizabeth how he wants his therapy sessions to go.
Once they are set, Jackson and Jammie start his swing therapy which was started to motivate him and is now just fun.

After spending much of his early life down at Riley Children's Hospital, the Schalliol's are thankful Jackson can have therapy right here in South Bend.

Mary says, “You see everyone walking around carrying an iPad, so for him to have this, it's a way for him to have a voice and whether he speaks or not, he can talk through this.”

He can get occupational therapy at the same time.

The Hearts of Gold Mall Walk is this Saturday morning, February 1 at University Park Mall.

You can put a team together and come out for lots of family fun.

Dr. Robert Sweeney and Maureen McFadden are acting as the master and mistress of ceremonies. Come on out and join the fun.

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