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Gavin Gonzalez, an afterschool participant at AbilityFirst’s Claremont Center, knows what to do with a challenge: Face it with humor. Emerging from shy beginnings when he was first interacting with staff and peers, he has since flourished into a young man who is comfortable in the company of others. In fact, he greeted the latest social distancing challenge by connecting with his friends staff virtually and he’s known to bring a hearty helping of laughter to the mix.

In late 2018 Gavin joined the afterschool program. He faced some significant hurdles as he entered his new social setting. He had a hard time voicing his needs. His ongoing experiences with seizures and a vomit disorder that interrupts enjoyment of his daily activities created additional difficulties.

When he started with AbilityFirst, he was encouraged to play with others and speak up when he wanted something. One discovery staff had with Gavin was that he loved being invited to help out whenever possible. Once they discovered this about Gavin, he began to blossom!

When engaging in the Claremont Center’s remote learning program, Gavin might even be called a star. He fills the Zoom sessions with spirited energy and has a knack for getting everyone laughing. He finds his online meetings so exciting that he has racked up a remarkable attendance record and can readily list which staff members and what activities are scheduled for the day.

With encouragement from staff and his new friends, Gavin has emerged as a bit of a leader and has learned to be quite vocal about his wants and needs. Despite working on overcoming his own obstacles, Gavin is also considerate about acknowledging the needs of others as he interacts with them.

For just a touch of his bubbly disposition, here’s a little something he’d like everyone to know about him:

“My favorite thing is karaoke because I love it! I like to sing the Aladdin song.”

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