School is one of the most universal experiences of childhood – where we make our first friends, learn to read and write, and, hopefully, learn to love learning itself.
But some children, such as 3-year-old Bradrick Corley, need a little bit of help in getting there. That’s where Akron Children’s School Health Services comes in.
Bradrick was born very premature at 26 weeks – sadly, his twin brother, Braxton, did not survive. The prematurity severely affected Bradrick’s lungs and prompted the need for a tracheostomy, a surgical procedure to create an opening through the neck into the trachea (windpipe).
In his short life, Bradrick has touched on many of Akron Children’s services. He spent his first year and a half in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and has been helped along by specialists in pediatric neurosurgery, neurology, ophthalmology, and physical, occupational and speech therapy.
In working with Akron Children’s Haslinger Family Pediatric Palliative Care Center, Bradrick’s parents, Bianca and Sheldon, expressed their desire for Bradrick to attend his neighborhood school despite challenges such as having a trach and a wheelchair. So a team from School Health team, led by Tracy Edwards, clinical coordinator of School Health Services, and school nurse Tracy Primus-Blackmon, began working with Akron Public Schools to make it happen.
All of their planning, training and work led to Sept. 24 when Bradrick got to ride a big yellow school bus to his first day of preschool at Crouse Community Learning Center in West Akron.
Primus-Blackmon, LPN, was with him every step of the way as he met his teacher Cheryl Regueiro and the 9 other children in his integrated preschool classroom, which has a mix of children who are typically developing and those who have special needs.
Primus-Blackmon will provide trach care and be able to respond in case of a medical emergency. She and others who may assist Bradrick train for such emergencies in Akron Children’s Austen Simulation Center for Safety and Reliability.
For Edwards, all the training and preparation for Bradrick’s first day, including meetings with his teacher and principal, is about giving him the childhood experience he deserves.
“Bradrick should be able to attend his home school with his peers if that is the choice of his parents,” said Edwards. “With our help, he is able to be at his neighborhood school – in his own community and with other children who live near him.”
As for Bradrick, the first-day-of-school smiles said it all. He smiled during his “Ferris Wheel” like lift up into the school bus, his first “high five” with Mrs. Regueiro, his first hallway line up with his classmates and first look inside his classroom, which is full of bright colors, books and fun things to explore.
“He had a very good day – all went well,” said mom, Bianca. “We are so excited for him.”