Enthusiastic, creative, funny, loyal, playful and adventurous are just a few words to describe Miguel Acosta.

When we first met Miguel he was in his second year of Junior High School. Miguel had been categorized as a challenging individual who required a 1 on 1 at all times due to the various challenges he exhibited.

Miguel’s family, with the assistance from the East Los Angeles Regional Center requested support from Jay Nolan Community Services’ (Family Support) Community Facilitator Program in hopes of assisting and supporting Miguel at home and in the community. Miguel’s family wanted to expose him to new locations within his surroundings as well as possibly introducing him to people he might find a common interest or bond with.

According to Miguel’s family, due to his “behavior”, Miguel had not experienced much of what his community had to offer. Yes Miguel had visited the park, supermarkets and relative’s homes, but he had little opportunity to socialize with peers of his own age or build a healthy relationship with someone, other than a family member.

We introduced Miguel to a Community Facilitator, Edgar Sebastian who had been looking for some time to mentor someone and become a positive role model. At first Miguel like any child, tested his boundaries with Edgar; Miguel displayed all of what he was “known for”, tantrums, physical aggression, yelling etc. to name the least. Miguel created huge scenes at various shopping centers, restaurants and public libraries in hopes of attaining goods and/or attention. Miguel had always been labeled as “challenging” and he knew it, and in return that’s who he presented himself to be. Edgar said, “I like Miguel and I love a challenge”. Through positive reinforcement, patience, and encouragement we soon found out that Miguel had never really been given a chance to show his true potential of being the fun loving and playful young man he is today.

Throughout continued support we realized that Miguel had many fears; the dark, animals, trees, bushes, branches or anything that resembled a tree was frightening to him. Windy days were mostly difficult times for Miguel had little understanding of why plants moved and swayed the way they did, which created fear in Miguel. With meticulous thinking and encouragement Miguel was shown that there was nothing to be afraid of. After several months of prompting, encouragement and support Miguel had created within himself a desire to break off certain branches or leaves that caught his attention and his eye (the color, length, texture, smell and accessibility) those were the ones he would reach, break off and carry for the rest of the day.

Miguel, with the support of staff and parents began attending the local YMCA for a couple of years, where he had been introduced to new people, new activities and one of his favorite pass times, swimming. Miguel became a well respected participant and peer at the YMCA.

It has now been approximately 4 years since Miguel and Edgar first met, and now Miguel understands that Edgar is not only an authority figure but is a positive role model, friend and most importantly “part of the family”.

Miguel is currently attending his first year at Whittier High School, where he does not have a 1 on 1; Miguel is one of the best behaved students as well as a positive role model for others to follow.

Miguel presently attends the Boys and Girls Club of Whittier, Teen division where he enjoys playing air hockey and playing on the computer. Miguel looks forward to spending time with Edgar on a daily basis and often you hear Miguel call out for “E..dderr”.

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