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When Alec Hamilton’s family moved from Florida to California, they had no connections in the area. Two years later, they’ve found an extended family in the AbilityFirst Lawrence L. Frank Center after-school program. Alec has found a place where he truly feels like he belongs.

Alec is everyone’s cheerleader: he motivates his peers, makes sure everyone’s included in activities, and has energy that lasts all day. But he wasn’t always a social butterfly:when he first came to AbilityFirst, he struggled to express himself without becoming frustrated, and he often didn’t feel confident when he tried to socialize with his peers.

The staff at AbilityFirst helps Alec to recognize when he needs to take a break and use his breathing skills to stay calm. Today, Alec he rarely becomes frustrated. His improved coping skills and positive interactions with others have improved his school life as well. Alec’s mom notes, “Alec has gained greater independence and we are working on phasing out his one-on-one aide, as he heads into middle school this fall.”
“When Alec arrives at the after-school program, he has a big smile on his face – he’s like a little Activity Leader in training!” says Program Supervisor Lisa Duenas. “He loves anything that involves sports, video games, music and dancing – he LOVES to dance.”

Recently, Alec performed in the AbilityFirst Abilities Pageant, and showcased his talents with music and dance. During the show, his mom and dad teared up as they watched Alec perform with his friends. For Alec’s mom, there is “no greater pride than watching Alec continue to improve and thrive.” Thanks to AbilityFirst, he has a place to do just that.

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