Reblog from Using Our Words

Reader Feature: How Two Kids Are Spreading Joy with KidScholly

Reader Feature: How Two Kids Are Spreading Joy with KidScholly

The last time I saw Devlin and Darius, they were two of the many kids running carefree through the streets of our neighborhood. Now, a few years later (and a few hundred miles south of our neighborhood), they’re working hard — and smart — to help kids in their new community feel that same childhood joy. What an inspiring duo (who happen to have a pretty special, dedicated mom too)!

Introduce yourselves…
We are Devlin and Darius Turner. Devlin is 11 and in the 6th grade, and Darius is 8 and in the 3rd grade.

Devlin: I am in my first year of the Pom Squad at school. I am also involved in Girl Scouts and love arts and crafts of any kind. I have struggled with dyslexia and have mostly overcome it, and I am doing really well in mainstream school now.

Darius: I keep busy mostly with team sports. This season I am on a little league baseball team and a flag football league. I also play on a basketball team and sometimes am the ball boy for a college baseball team. In my free time, I love Minecraft, Pokemon, and Chess.

How did KidScholly get started?
KidScholly started as a challenge our parents gave us on the day we were baptized. They gave us each $150 and told us to find a way to make it grow and to do something for someone less fortunate. We talked about it for a few days and decided that a lemonade stand or bake sale wouldn’t go very far, so we came up with the idea of giving scholarships to kids so they can do extracurricular activities that they can’t afford without help.

We also decided it would help more people if the applicants earned their scholarships by doing volunteer work. For every 1 hour of volunteer work they do, they can earn $25 of scholarship money. The volunteer work can be anything that is meant to help someone else like cleaning up a park, doing extra chores, pulling weeds, and doing jobs for teachers or churches.

Our parents have been really supportive and liked our idea so much that they decided to help us make it happen. Our mom is the Chief Opportunity Giver now and she is pretty much working full time on it and taking time away from medicine to get KidScholly going, and we are both scholarship directors so we help with meetings and a lot of the decisions that are being made.

Can you share a story of a child who was granted one of your scholarships? What community service did they perform and what activity are they now able to participate in thanks to KidScholly?
All of the stories so far are great, but we really like to talk about a twin 9th grade brother and sister who were two of our first scholarship kids. The sister wanted art lessons and the brother wanted to be part of a basketball league and to get new basketball shoes. To earn their scholarships they each needed to do 25 hours of volunteer work, but when they turned in their forms, they had both done more than 45 hours by helping a neighbor build a fence, visiting people in nursing homes, and cleaning up a beach. Their mom said they really got into it and enjoyed volunteering. Now their little sister has gotten involved and is on a gymnastics scholarship too.

The artist has gotten very good through her art lessons and is now helping design sets at a local theater. Here is an example of her work:

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How many kids have you been able to help so far?
We have given over $21,000 in scholarships so far in our first six months and that accounts for more than 680 hours of community service and about 50 kids. We have had 10 kids in little league baseball, one in basketball, two in cheerleading, and three in gymnastics. We also have three kids who have gotten Irlen filters which are glasses that we both wear that have really helped our dyslexia. One of our 6th grade scholarship kids has improved his reading level from a 2nd grade level to a 6th grade level in just a few months with his vision corrected, and he is getting A’s and B’s now when he was failing school before. Also, we have given guitar lessons, art lessons, dance lessons, and music therapy and have helped kids be able to go on school field trips, be in Boy Scouts, and go to creative writing classes.

The kids have given hundreds of hours of volunteer work so far, and some of them are volunteering more so they can earn more funds for their lessons or apply for a second activity. Our hope is to give 500 scholarships in 2016 year (average scholarship is $500), but we are going to need to get a lot of sponsors and donors. Just last week we had a donor offer to give us $5,000 if we can earn $5,000 in ten days, and that campaignstarted on 3/1/16. We also are hoping for success in our partnership with Sevenly.

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What is your vision for KidScholly’s future?
We are really excited that we have joined with Sevenly to provide their kids’ line of clothes, and profits from that will go back into scholarships and also to other charities. We are starting a new program called SchollyBuddies to get people more involved in helping our scholarship kids by raising money through community service projects that groups like churches, schools, and scouts can do together.  It has been really fun and we are proud of what we have started. My mom says we have created a monster, but we say it’s a really good monster.

The best, if you ask me. Check out some of these YouTube videos to see their outstanding work in action:

About KidScholly

How KidScholly Works

Esteban (age 11) Works for Guitar Lesson

Payton (age 8) Works for Music Therapy

Adia (age 14) Works for Art Lessons

Drew (age 11) Works for Cheerleading

Your donation can help KidScholly earn $5000! If KidScholly earns $5000 in donations by March 10, 2016 a generous donor will match that $5000.

*This blog was previously published on March 3, 2016 at http://usingourwords.com/2016/03/03/kidscholly/

Irlen Syndrome

The Reason My Wickedly Smart Girl Couldn’t Remember Sight Words

Originally Published on October 21, 2015 on http://irlen.com

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This guest blog post is written mom, physician, and philanthropist, Dr. Elizabeth Turner. Dr. Turner has two Irlen children whose lives were changed by Irlen Spectral Filters and who have created a way to help others by paying it forward with their new charity, KidScholly. This is their story…


I am the lucky mom of two amazing kids who have had their share of challenges and have come to the other side, in large part due to Irlen filters.

In 2nd grade, my daughter was reading on the kindergarten level and had learned to avoid reading by giving what I thought were excuses like headaches, upset stomach, and tired eyes. My once sweet, outgoing toddler had become an anxious gradeschooler, biting her fingernails bloody, and crying on the way to the bus stop every morning. She was clearly internalizing her school failures and quickly losing self-confidence. As a parent of a really neat kid, it was painful to see her spirit die in little pieces every day and not to be able to figure out the issue. Yes, she was dyslexic, but there was something more going on that numerous experts and thousands of dollars hadn’t figured out.

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Devlin and Darius Turner have both benefited from our partnership with the Irlen Foundation.

At a party for a friends’ birthday, I was lamenting our battle with the school district and commiserating with another mother who had been through it all with her dyslexic child years before. Then came the moment that changed our lives.

The woman asked if my daughter had been screened for Irlen Syndrome. Never in my four years in medical school, pediatrics rotations, ophthalmology rotations, and in 10 years of medical practice had I ever heard those words.

I was at the point of wanting to try anything that would help give my child back to me from the very lonely and frustrated place she had sequestered herself, so I got online that night, and called for an appointment the next day.

Our evaluation day was an unforgettable day. During the evaluation, I swear I saw her change back to the daughter we knew before she realized that she was behind everyone else in reading. She giggled, and smiled, and was wiggling in her seat with joy to be able to see the page clearly without words and numbers doubling and moving. She stopped rubbing her eyes. She wanted to read more. In the initial evaluation, she was given a math problem without the filters, and read it aloud as “3,3,6,6,9,9.” After putting on the filters, she said, “Oh! 3+6=9!” She hadn’t seen the + or = sign at all without the filters. Not only was her vision immediately clear, so was our understanding of why our wickedly smart girl previously couldn’t do simple math or remember sight words.

The first night she had her filters, she asked to read at bedtime, and of course we were thrilled to let her stay up late. That night she read and understood an entire chapter book. She volunteered to read aloud to her class a book about her “magic glasses” so they would understand the peach colored lenses she was wearing. Let me repeat that…She volunteered to read to her class. After two months, her reading level improved to the third grade level, and she was still in second grade. She was happy, smiling, confident, and relaxed for the first time in three years, and we were immensely relieved and grateful.

The following year, our first grade son complained that the words on his page were sinking into the page and disappearing, and we knew what to do. He was reading on the early kindergarten level, but after getting his filters, he won the reading award for his class at the end of the year graduation ceremony. Our son is a tough, sporty, and very athletic 3rd grader, but he refuses to go to school without his Irlen glasses for fear of headaches and embarrassment about his lack of reading fluency when not wearing them.

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Thanks to improved reading fluency and diminishing headaches, Darius never forgets to bring his Irlen glasses with him to school.

About six months ago, my husband and I gave $150 to each of the kids for their baptism and asked them to find a way to grow the money and to give it back to someone who needed it more than they did. After a few nights of discussion and brainstorming, the kids decided they wanted to make sure that every child who needed Irlen filters had the opportunity to be screened and fitted for them. Since the amount we gave them wouldn’t begin to accomplish that feat, we built a website and filed papers to start a non-profit called KidScholly. Now, we give scholarships to kids K-12 for arts, academics, and athletics that they otherwise would not be able to afford. Applicants earn their scholarships through community service work, and they feel a great sense of accomplishment and pride in the process. KidScholly partners with vendors and agencies to bring more affordable opportunities to the applicants, and we are incredibly lucky to have developed such a relationship with the Irlen Institute. KidScholly has relied entirely on the generosity of donors for our initial funding. After only three months, we have been able to fund 25 scholarships worth more than $10,000, and the applications keep coming in. Three of our scholarship recipients initially applied for after school tutoring, but we asked them first to take the quiz on the Irlen website. All three screened very strongly for Irlen Syndrome and are now being fitted with filters. From our personal experience, we know that this is a much better use of KidScholly’s funds than more sure to be futile tutoring .

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Both Darius and Devlin use Irlen glasses when reading.

A fitting ending to this story is to share a poignant letter that I received from the parents of two of our scholarship recipients who each completed 25 hours of volunteerism to earn their Irlen filters. You can’t even imagine how thrilled my kids were to know and really, truly understand how huge of a gift they have been able to give this family, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the partnership with the Irlen Institute.

Liz Turner, MD
KidScholly President

 

From KidScholly scholarship awardee parents, Monica and Stark Jones:

“What a privilege to feel REJUVENATED. Joseph Campbell, a mythologist, states, “The privilege of a life time is to be who you are.” Thanks to KidScholly and Irlen Institute our kids can be who they are and gone are the days of: 1) 1500 hours of reading in front of a bathroom mirror, 2) 500 computer hours logged using various reading software, 3) reading over 150 books, 4) 2 hour study sessions Monday – Friday, 5) reviewing spelling words 5 and 6 times per week, 6) 101 lectures on work ethic, 7) attending summer school since 2nd grade, 8) cross town weekly trips to reading specialist, 9) changing to Private School, 10) ADHD medication, 11) telling teachers to give extra homework, 12) removing TV from your room, 13) planning your weekend to do extra reading, 14) not letting you go over your friends house, 15) missing recreation football and basketball seasons, 16) missed vacations to save money, 17) not believing your symptoms like headaches, fatigue, stress…, 18) raising our voice to make you concentrate, and 19) making you cry.

As your parents, we now understand your frustration with reading and understand your voyage to read has been different from others. We finally “get it” after four long years of hard work and determination. Your Individual Education Plan (IEP) of repetition coupled with long reading hours was beginning to take a toll on us and especially you. Thank God for the Irlen Institute for developing this visual processing technology. The Irlen Diagnostic Specialist showed us in over two hours what our kids were seeing when they read. Difficulties with visual processing affected how visual information is interpreted or processed by the brain focusing on the ability to read fluently with comprehension.

After applying the Irlen filters it was very rejuvenating to see our children speed read letters, words, and comprehend stories. These filters are a magical mystery. I could not believe our children’s eyes did not turn red, they did not complain of headaches, or have reading fatigue. They continued to read paragraph after paragraph and page after page. This was our greatest solace watching our children read with confidence, fluency, and understanding.

My wife and I deeply appreciate KidScholly for assisting us financially and the Irlen Institute for rejuvenating us and helping our children be who they are through the power of a lens.”

We’d like to extend a big thank you to the Irlen Foundation for allowing us to republish this blog!

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