Educator Perspective: Malachi’s Story

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]My name is Dee Lancaster and I am a Maestro Educator ending my 13th year of teaching Kindermusik in Cleveland, TN. I love my job and thank God every day for the beautiful families that have come into my life through Kindermusik.

One of the most rewarding things about my job is getting to know these families and hearing about the difference Kindermusik is making not only in their child’s development but also in their family interactions and relationships. I feel especially blessed to play a part in the lives of families with unique challenges and special needs. I wanted to share a letter with you from one of these families who also happens to be a current recipient of the Carol D. Penney scholarship. The letter is long but so worth the read. It is my great pleasure to introduce you to Malachi.

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Malachi-heartbeat[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]In February 2013 our lives were dramatically changed by the birth of our son Malachi. While most birth stories are riddled with joy, ours was overshadowed by fear and uncertainty. Our son Malachi was born at just 24 weeks gestation with a birth weight of only 1 pound 12 ounces. Malachi was born without a heartbeat, and after 15 long minutes of CPR he came to life. During that time his brain hemorrhaged internally causing major, irreversible damage. We were given the option to stop lifesaving care and we were told that Malachi would never walk, talk, or breathe on his own. We chose to allow him to fight as long as God saw fit, and I am pleased to tell you that today we have a joyful and happy almost three year old.

As a result of his traumatic birth, Malachi has several medical conditions. In addition to his cerebral palsy, Malachi is legally blind, suffers from severe epilepsy, and has a VP shunt to control his hydrocephalus. He also has multiple orthopedic issues and we are still told that he is not expected to walk, but we continue to hold out hope. To date, Malachi has had 11 surgeries on his eyes, brain, feet, stomach, and heart. These diagnoses require several specialist appointments every week resulting in lots of road trips and unpleasant medical testing.

When we first heard about Kindermusik I was immediately intrigued. Before Malachi’s birth, I always envisioned myself as the type of mother who would have her kids involved in as many activities as possible. I found myself not only mourning the loss of having a “typical” child, but also mourning the loss of being able to experience “typical motherhood”. Due to Malachi’s weakened immune system, he had not been able to be around any children and we were starting to feel very isolated. I decided to take Malachi to a trial Kindermusik class, and what I saw in my son amazed me.

Malachi immediately responded to the stimulus around him with such joy. I was afraid that the excitement would trigger his seizures, but those fears disappeared as I watched him anticipate what we would be doing next. He has always been motivated by music, but even more exciting was to see him react to hearing the other children in the room. The curiosity and excitement in his eyes reassured me that this was something we needed to pursue.

Malachi struggles to maintain an upright sitting position and control his head, but during Kindermusik class he is so excited that he engages those muscles with ease. He gets more of a workout at his weekly Kindermusik class than during his weekly physical therapy sessions! Aside from seeing many physical improvements during our sessions, cognitively Malachi is tracking conversations, learning how to follow directions, and responding when asked questions. It is so refreshing as his mother to find an activity that helps us get closer to so many of our goals for Malachi.

Kindermusik days are something that Malachi looks forward to, and responds with excitement when I tell him that we are going to music class. It is the one weekly appointment in our very busy week that he can’t wait to get to. And I am so thankful that I can brighten up his schedule with something that brings him so much joy. It has certainly been a blessing to our family. There is nothing more heart-warming than hearing your child giggle uncontrollably at the children around him.

We also have been able to incorporate our home materials into our every day. We sing the songs during therapy to keep him engaged and we play the CD in the car on our long car trips. He has the books memorized and smiles with anticipation when we come to his favorite part. Malachi takes a little longer to process things and repetitive things allow him time to catch up with the song. He will even attempt to sing along during many of the songs.

Thanks to Kindermusik and the Carol D. Penney scholarship, I no longer have to mourn over the loss of my “typical motherhood”. In fact, just a few weeks ago we saw one of our classmates out in public. The little boy said hi to Malachi and treated him like a friend. We didn’t have to answer questions about his leg braces, or explain why Malachi didn’t look at him and respond. Kindermusik has brought some much needed normalcy to our world.

Thank you for providing ways for families like mine to participate in your amazing program. There is a sweet little boy in Tennessee who appreciates you more than you know. If you would like to follow Malachi’s story you can find us on Facebook by searching “Malachi’s Miracles”.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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