Community supports York Shining Stars Jackson and Parker
Jackson S. and his twin brother, Parker, have truly been Shining Stars for the entire Rainbow Junction family. From the time they first entered our program as three year olds, they have charmed their teachers and classmates with their playful personalities and their magnetic attraction to each other and both have thrived on the companionship of their peers. In interactions it has always been obvious to our staff that these lucky boys are blessed with a very loving family. Whether the exchange was with Mom, Dad, Grandma, or Grandpa, there was always news to share with the staff at drop-off or pick-up about something exciting that has happened during their time away from the center. It would seem the idyllic life for any child, and the expanding variety of materials and the consistently caring, knowledgeable, and experienced professionals that Keystone STARS participation provided it Rainbow Junction created a supportive setting for a year filled with transitions beyond that of home-to-school.
During that 2010 – 2011 school year, Jackson and Parker's beloved paternal grandfather was tragically killed in an industrial accident, a terrible loss for the family. As we shared their grief, our children learned about death, loss, and love. The boys exhibited resilience and forthrightness in sharing with their friends, and were supported by a caring staff.
The measure of that caring had yet to be realized, we learned in late July 2011, when, just returned from a family vacation and 5th birthday celebration, Jackson was stricken with a yet-undetermined illness and landed in the intensive care unit at Penn State Hershey's Children’s Hospital where he remained critically ill for many months. During that time, our staff monitored his progress via round-the-clock updates and the entire Rainbow Junction family prayed for his recovery. Our children learned about illness, the fragility of life, special needs, and patience with a totally new perspective. Center families offered an outpouring of concern and children learned compassion as parents donated toys to the hospital that was taking such good care of their friends, Jackson and Parker. The children inquired regularly about the boys while they were away from the center, made cards and remembrances for them and rejoiced in each bit of positive news would be we would receive.
When Jackson was finally discharged to home, the center excitedly welcome the family back, Parker as a student, and Jackson, because of the extensive brain injury he sustained, as an occasional visitor when he accompanies mom for his brothers pick up. Both boys have exemplified such tenacity over the past year that we would like to think that perhaps the learning and caring environment we provided contributed a modest amount towards their resilient spirits. The entire family has been an inspiration to all who know them. The transformation of their lives, and ours, because of their presents, epitomizes the potential of quality caring and the life of a child, the essence of the Keystone STARS program.
Nancy Hartman, teacher, York County