Our attitude is the one thing in life we can always control, but it’s easier said than done. Despite being young and living through some tough situations, 19-year-old Aim has already mastered the skill of facing life with a smile.
Aim moved to Des Moines with his sister Ann several years ago after living in a refugee camp in Thailand. The camp’s tight living quarters and limited food supply were not a healthy place for anyone, much less for Aim, who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair. Though he didn’t speak any English at the time, Aim came to Iowa to work toward a better future.
After regaining weight and flexibility through intensive rehabilitation at ChildServe’s pediatric rehabilitation unit, Aim was ready to focus on building his independence and communication skills. He moved into a ChildServe group home as a 17-year-old.
Stephanie Shimp, the House Supervisor, watched the progress he’s made since he moved in two years ago.
“Aim has an amazing personality. We knew he would be a great fit with the other teenage boys in the house. Our biggest challenge in the beginning was communication. It was hard to understand exactly what he needed, since English isn’t his first language.”
English wasn’t even Aim’s second or third language – it was his fifth. Learning yet another language was made possible through support programs at ChildServe and school.
“Aim’s English has exploded thanks to receiving Speech Therapy through ChildServe, and support for ESL (English Second Language) at school,” said Stephanie. “In the past two years he has developed so much – we have no trouble communicating with each other now.”
Today, Aim can often be found flashing a smile at everyone who comes into the home. He enjoys talking about the day over supper with his five housemates before doing chores like clearing the table and cleaning his room. He then likes to watch movies, or visit with family members.
“My favorite things to do at school are read, use the computer, and talk with my friends,” said Aim. “After school I like to relax and play games on my ipad.”
Even though his life has changed drastically due to his improvements in health, communication, and independence, part of Aim will always remember a time when life was hard, food was scarce, and he wasn’t able to live up to his potential.
When asked about the differences between life in Thailand and his life in Iowa, Aim smiles and says simply, “It’s good here.”
ChildServe improves the health and well-being of more than 4,500 children each year through specialized clinical, home, and community-based programs and services. We serve children with developmental delays, disabilities, acquired injuries, and other special healthcare needs.