Rising Star: Hannah D.

3 students smiling in a classrom

Hannah: "Mayor" of the Ashford Rise School of Dallas

Melissa Dvorocsik, President of the Rise Parent Organization, Runway committee member, and Rise mother, reflects on the impact of the Rise program on her daughter, family, and friends. The Ashford Rise School of Dallas provides high-quality early education services to children aged six months to six years with and without disabilities in an inclusive environment.

What does it mean to be a part of the Y?
Hannah loves being at the Y and seeing all her friends every day. We've had many family friends say, "Hey, I saw Hannah today; she gave me a high five." Being part of the Y gives her another place to meet more of her community, see them, and know that it's a safe space for her and a place she loves to be. Hannah is excited every morning to go to her classroom BUT heads to other classrooms before heading into her own. Miss "Mayor of Rise" loves swinging by anyone and everyone to guide and greet them. As a mom, there's nothing greater than knowing that your child loves to be where they are. My husband and I both work full-time, so we do utilize the after-school care at the Rise school as well, and quite honestly, I think Hannah is a little upset when I pick her up so early most days.

What does belonging mean to you?
Belonging is knowing that even if there are no familiar faces, there are friendly faces when you walk through the door. There is a space for both Hannah and ourselves that makes you feel comfortable and safe.

What does it mean to serve Rise and for kids to be a part of the Y?
I have been fortunate enough to work with parents and teachers to understand the more intimate needs of the school. This has motivated me to work even harder during some of these fundraising campaigns, knowing all of the school's needs, which ultimately are the needs of our children, and supporting them to reach their highest potential.

What challenges or barriers are you helping to break by supporting the Y?
The Rise School is promoting inclusion, and being a part of that has opened my eyes as a mother with special needs. It's a whole new world for me, just like it is for everyone else in the community when they haven't been exposed to someone with special needs. By having the Rise School at the Y and making these resources, these teachers are available to the community for those that need them.

Hannah could not walk for the first four years of her life and could have been teased for it in another setting. At Rise, she's not the only one that may be different - it's embraced. It's a great setting to learn inclusion earlier and notice children's differences.

Tell us an impactful story from your program or experience at the Y.

Without the Rise school, our daughter, who uses a speech device, sometimes finds it hard for fellow students to understand her. Having speech therapists and others with similar experiences with children has helped accommodate her needs in ways they did not know before. This has really helped her to communicate with peers and teachers and reach her best potential.

Hannah has attended Rise since infancy and will leave as she heads to kindergarten. She will be greatly missed! 

To learn more about the Rise school, visit https://ymcadallas.org/riseschool!

Authored by: Monique Gutierrez