Danielle Has a Song in her Heart

Enthusiastic students are returning to Wayfinder’s Special Education School! Among the happy students is Danielle, age 13, who is excited to return for her second year. Danielle is blind and has developmental delays. Her mother, Corinna, transferred Danielle to Wayfinder’s school because she needs more specialized services for visual impairment than she was receiving in her public school. Last year, on her first day of school, the staff knew it was Danielle’s birthday, so the students and teachers greeted her with treats. The warm welcome made Danielle feel like she fit right into her new school environment.

Corinna chose Wayfinder’s school so that Danielle could improve her mobility. Also, Corinna wants Danielle to learn to write independently using her braille machine and to decipher braille so she can read. Additional goals for Danielle are to build her conversation skills and to learn to use her hands more effectively, which will help with braille.

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One of Danielle’s great joys is singing. “She sings beautifully. She will sing whatever she hears,” says Nancy Berger, school principal. “She sang happy birthday, and we recorded it for a friend of Wayfinder who is a musician. During the holidays, we gathered in the hallway so she could sing Christmas carols to us.”

Danielle’s mobility is already improving thanks to training from the school’s orientation and mobility specialist. Danielle uses her white cane so well that she is nearly ready to try walking in the community with assistance from an aide.

Danielle is building her conversation skills, too. To practice, her teacher sets up a structured conversation period with someone Danielle wants to talk to. The teacher guides Danielle through the back-and-forth conversation. According to Corinna, “Danielle communicates vocally a lot more.”

To improve her fine motor skills, Danielle takes objects apart, unscrews the cap from a water bottle, and assembles items from pieces. “Danielle is using her fingers and hands more,” says Corinna. “She likes to peck on her braille machine, and she is learning to write letters.”

Beyond all the tremendous progress that Danielle is making, she is a bright ray of sunshine everywhere she goes. Corinna describes her daughter as “beautiful, intelligent and loving.” Nancy agrees, “Everybody loves her. She is sweet and engaging. She has so much potential for a wonderful, happy life.”

Do you want to hear Danielle’s beautiful voice? Visit wayfinderfamily.org/Danielle.




Families in Wayfinder programs were some of the hardest hit by the pandemic.

Nearly all our clients are in highrisk groups for health, economic and educational hardship. The pandemic worsened these disparities for Wayfinder children and families. Wayfinder is committed to standing beside them as our clients work hard to regain what they lost in the pandemic. Make a donation now!

September 30, 2022