In the days following her daughter Satchel’s birth, doctors told Jackie Heidelberg her child would never walk or talk. But Jackie knew in her heart that Satchel would defy the odds. She actively sought the best interventions for her daughter, which led them to The Day School at The Children’s Institute of Pittsburgh.
“The Day School is amazing,” says Jackie. “The team of educators and therapists worked with me to set goals for Satchel that were best for our family, and they worked with great compassion, wisdom, and creativity to help her meet those goals.”
Satchel, age 25, was a student in The Day School for her entire academic career. The school’s diverse team of experts includes many passionate professionals, including certified special education teachers, adapted physical education, art and music teachers, physical, occupational, and speech therapists.
At The Day School, Satchel first learned to walk and to communicate. As her skills and level of independence grew, she connected with the world around her in new ways, including volunteering at the local food bank through The Day School’s community-based instruction program.
“Our journey together has been both joy-filled and heart-breaking,” Jackie explains. “Satchel faces a lot of challenges, but she is always willing to work hard and try new things. It’s so special to see Satchel enjoying her life as a young adult.”
Today, Satchel loves to interact with others and is proud of the ways in which she can assert her independence. She earned 20 medals through Special Olympics. She spends a lot of time with her six siblings, has fun participating in social activities, and likes to order her own food at restaurants. She also helps out at her mother’s catering business, Jackie Kennedy Catering.
“We have a simple and fulfilling life,” describes Jackie. “Satchel has grown so much over the years - physically, intellectually, emotionally, and socially. She is a healthy and happy young woman, and because of what she learned at The Children’s Institute, her life is the best it can be.”