Addie's story: A good friend goes a long way

Addie has physical challenges with speech and walking due to Cerebral Palsy. Towards the end of Addie's time in elementary school, her mother began to worry that - just like in elementary school - Addie wouldn't be able to connect with her teachers or support staff in middle school.

Addie feared change, and her mother didn't want her academics to suffer as she transitioned to a new school.

Addie's mother contacted Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Laurel Region (BBBSLR), a United Way partner in Westmoreland County, in hopes that a Big Sister could relate to Addie. Emilia, a volunteer Big Sister at BBBSLR, grew up in a household with her Aunt who has special needs, so Emilia knew she could mentor and support Addie through her upcoming transitions.

Emilia understood Addie’s struggle with changes, and she committed to weekly visits with Addie at her school. They formed a quick bond, and over lunch each week, the two of them would talk about all of the things that scared Addie, and all of the things she had already accomplished. Emilia taught Addie that it is okay to make mistakes, but it is important to continue living and growing without giving up.

Addie’s self-esteem slowly increased, and she began speaking in class and making friends. When Addie entered middle school, she and Emilia agreed to focus more on academics, because it was a dream of Addie’s to make the honor roll. At the end of sixth grade. Addie told BBBSLR staff that she felt like she did really well in school and now has many friends, some that she spends time with outside of school, which never happened before.

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