PROGRAM — McKay Scholarship

I have three children. My youngest two, Giana and Javier, have autism. I am thankful for the scholarship my children received to attend STARS Academy in Miami, FL. Before STARS, I had my daughter in a regular school setting. She got kicked out the public school because they couldn’t handle her special needs. At that school, she was isolated to a corner and living in timeout because they didn’t understand her.  

When my daughter first got to STARS, she was completely nonverbal. She’s been at STARS for two years and now my daughter needs to be told to stop talking. She speaks in full sentences and can express herself. She knows her colors, her numbers, she can tell you about different animals, most importantly, she can express her wants and needs.  

When you walk into the school you smell essential oils and there are many windows to let in natural light. They are intentional about everything.  

“She speaks in full sentences and can express herself. She knows her colors, her numbers, she can tell you about different animals, most importantly, she can express her wants and needs.”

Before STARS, I would leave work early to take Giana to occupational and speech therapy. Now STARS is a one-stop-shop. When she’s having a bad day, they know how to work with her to get her back on track. My daughter feels loved. She likes affection. She has friends, too! Before, kids didn’t want to be around her because she was rough. Nowwe have play datesIt’s a big deal.  

Giana’s improvements continue beyond the classroom. At one point, we were not allowed to go into certain restaurants because she was having so many meltdowns. I can now sit down at a restaurant with my family and have a meal. She went from not wanting to be touched, to asking for hugs.  

My son just got diagnosed with autism as well and, thanks to STARS, we have our hopes high that he’ll make the same improvements. 

Our kids have a special need and just because they’re different doesn’t mean they can’t be like everybody else. I’m thankful for the scholarship because we wouldn’t have been able to afford STARS without it. 

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