At Easter Seals Hawaii (ESH), there is nothing more rewarding than seeing a participant transition into the next big stage of their lives. This milestone is called the Early Intervention Graduation Ceremony. While the Keiki may have had developmental delays, many of them are entering preschool with the skills and tools they need to succeed.
Amanda Buehrig and her husband Greg Kupsky celebrate their three-year-old son, Sam’s, graduation from the Easter Seals Hawaii Sultan Early Intervention Program.
For mother Amanda Buehrig, her three-year-old son, Sam, an ESH early intervention participant, has accomplished much more than she expected. “We came to Easter Seals Hawaii not knowing what to do,” she said. Buehrig explained that the staff at ESH Sultan Early Intervention Program supported her and her husband in helping Sam overcome many obstacles. “I didn’t know anybody when we moved to the island and Sam has really grown with the program.” Amanda and her husband Greg Kupsky were excited when they realized that Sam was ready for preschool, but the graduation, she said, is bittersweet. “It’s like saying goodbye to family. The ESH staff has made such a huge impact on my family.”
Sam’s mother, Amanda Buehrig, thanks all of ESH staff for their support throughout the years.
ESH Social Worker, Jenai Hermosura, was the one who supported Sam and his parents throughout the last two and a half years. She said, “Sam has been with us since he was six months old. He pretty much had all the services that we offer. And now, he is talking, progressing his motor skills and beyond. He is definitely on his way to bigger and better things. In the beginning, mom and dad were so cooperative and they took all of our suggestions and strategies, they really helped him through it all. I really commend them for all their hard work and you can see that in their son’s development. He’s such a sweet little boy. We’re gonna miss him.”
ESH graduating participant Devynn McAdams and her mom enjoy the ceremony and meeting other families.
Amanda, Greg and their son Sam were among 35 other families that celebrated their Keiki’s accomplishments. ESH Early Intervention Director Charlene Robles expressed such pride in her staff and said, “It’s like a reinforcement of what we do in addition to celebrating the children and their accomplishments. Parents come in not knowing what to do or expect. This graduation is a significant milestone for them and a reward for us.”
Jenai Hermosura expressed the same sense of reward, “This graduation was very touching. This is what I love doing and this is why I work here. Meeting the people and families like them, it makes our job easy but it also makes it fulfilling as well.”
Kaia Maloian walks up with her mother to receive her diploma and some materials she can use for school.
The graduation was a first for Care Coordinator Lahela Nishigaya-Rice, who has been working at ESH since October of 2012. She said, “A lot of the participants that I work with have graduated today. I actually took over from another Care Coordinator. It’s been really great building those bonds and working with them even if it was for a short time. It’s really rewarding to see them move on to preschool and the community.”
The Kawakani family celebrate their daughter Mia’s graduation.
ESH Board Chair, Dick Sears, also attended the graduation ceremony. He said, “It’s inspirational. Seeing the progress of these young men and women is inspirational. They are the strength of our country. Also, it’s always fun.”
The ESH Sultan Early Intervention Program staff is made up of therapists, educators, care coordinators, social workers and many more that dedicate their time to working with children with disabilities or developmental delays and their parents.
Easter Seals Hawaii provides state-wide Early Intervention services and programs. Starting in 1946, Hawaii offered the first Early Intervention program in the nation and has since served as a national model for Early Intervention. For more information about the ESH Early Intervention Programs, visit eastersealshawaii.org.