Meet Madison Archambault an 11-year-old with Cerebral Palsy and a severe developmental delay. She attends ACCEL, a school serving special needs students in the Phoenix area. The Arizona Leadership Foundation has worked with ACCEL for a number of years and we recently were on-site to be a part of the dedication of the re-opening of their accessible pool. The school provided us with this wonderful spotlight of one of its students for us to share with our community about the impact of scholarships on their students.
From ACCEL’s Development Officer, Gunnar Griffin:
It is not hard to find Madison at ACCEL as she is known to have the biggest smile on campus. Of course, being nonverbal has its challenges, but that has never stopped Madison from blowing kisses, giving hugs, and caring for everyone around her. If you ask her physical therapist, Alex Kellet, she would describe Madison as a “strong, independent young lady with a wonderful, feisty personality who loves to challenge herself every day.” Her mom, Ilene, loves Madison’s inherent caring nature, “Her favorite thing to do while at home is care for her baby dolls. You can see her acting like a doctor and truly nurturing them.”
Although Madison’s 6 years at ACCEL have been a “blessing,” as Ilene sees it, it still has been quite the journey to get here. When Madison was 3 months old, the doctors at Phoenix Children’s Hospital knew that her journey would be difficult. There were a lot of unknowns about her future, but that never changed the fact that Madison was always going to be Madison. Finding ACCEL was a “small world” experience for Ilene. She decided to take Madison to the park one day and needed assistance getting Madison into the accessible swing. There came Alex, a full-time physical therapist at ACCEL. Alex called it “a blessing in disguise” because she was just there for a fun day at the park with her son, she did not expect that that day would change the life of another family. A couple of weeks later Madison was attending her first day of school at ACCEL.
ACCEL provides up to 120 hours of physical therapy per month for each student. One of Alex’s goals for Madison is for her to be able to walk around with bilateral crutches and have no assistance elsewhere. Her exercises include lower strength mobilities, half kneeling exercises, and hip strengthening movements. ACCEL’s fully accessible playground allows Madison to be able to take steps on her own from one slide to another, something that she has not been able to do in the past. She not only can walk from slide to slide with assistance but also can walk for short periods of time in and throughout the classroom. Madison’s accomplishments are a great example of the persistence, hard work, and confidence that ACCEL students like her exude. Her growth through the services she receives at ACCEL has propelled her to a place that was unimaginable for her and her family. Ilene says “We as a family are so grateful for ACCEL. To see her grow every day and become more confident in who she is, it puts a smile on all of our faces. Without the Arizona Leadership Foundation scholarship, we would not be able to send our daughter to ACCEL where she belongs.” Madison has overcome many obstacles in her life, and she has no plan to stop anytime soon.
To serve people who have special needs in Arizona through exceptional programs in education, a wide range of therapy, behavioral development, and vocational training. We turn challenges into possibilities by making the greatest possible impact on the lives of our students, clients and members. ACCEL’s mission is to provide exceptional educational, behavioral, therapeutic, and vocational programs to individuals with special needs and developmental disabilities, to give them the necessary skills to learn, to work, and to live successfully with dignity and independence. Visit accel.org for more details.