Lilla: My Daughter’s Remarkable Journey

Lilla joined Mindstretch at age 4. Her hair was a gorgeous flyaway strawberry blonde. It still is. But other things have changed. She’s reached above and beyond to realise her potential. Her mom tells us how …

Lilla joined Mindstretch in early 2016. That was five years earlier, when she was still everybody’s ‘Lillakie’. She was a
non-verbal child who could not even utter the word “Mammy”!

Take a minute to imagine that: your child, your love, can’t find their way to voice your name.

Nowadays, her nonstop background chatter as she plays on our homemade monkey bars is a loud reminder that we have been blessed to be part of the Mindstretch family for half a decade!

Over the past 5 years many things have changed, especially during this mad year of COVID-19. But one thing has remained constant: the abundance of caring love that Lilla receives from everybody at Mindstretch. And I mean EVERYBODY. There are Lilla’s talented, creative and dedicated teachers, Shara, Michelle, Pam and Kelly-Jane, Lilla has loved them all. There are her gentle, selfless and patient Teacher Aides, Bongi, Talent, Sindi and Asanda, and her Aftercare teachers too. We’ll never forget her many wildly adored friends, Hannah, Sajidah, Akhil, Shukri, Luka (all of them!) and Jason.

Last but not least, there’s Jennifer Southgate, the founder and Principal of Mindstretch, The School. Jennifer is a visionary educator, a compassionate teacher, and a pragmatic leader to whom many of us, children, parents and employees of Mindstretch are eternally grateful. She’s created a school that enables not only the children but their parents too. Our kids’ progress in this holistically nurturing environment benefits their minds and bodies. Their growth and happiness brings much joy, a sense of direction, structure and hope to our lives as parents. By empowering us as parents, Mindstretch brings out the best version of ourselves. This, in turn, is well received by our special kids who need the best from us.

Thanks, Mindstretch, for all the precious, muscle-building outdoor hours and fun outings! Thanks for the careful classroom tuition.

Although Lilla has learned to speak and express her emotions at Mindstretch, she hasn’t yet developed the skill to convey her gratitude in writing. I do it on her behalf:

“Thank you, Mindstretch, for everything you have done for me and my family! Most of all thank you for stretching my mind!”

We asked Lilla about her favourite things at Mindstretch. There were many, too many to list. These few were among the most gratifying:

  • “My friends and running around in the garden.”
    Super news for a child who was reluctant to interact. Now, she’s a bright and popular personality. Sometimes she’s even delightfully bossy, a leader commanding her friends’ attention. Lilla says she “likes helping teacher Kelli-Jane and the other kids during worktime”.
  • “Working!”
    Her second favourite activity came as a nice surprise for her teachers.
  • “Practicing the monkey bars.”
    Lilla can go both forward and backwards. She’s shown grit in getting there. A fine achievement for a child who previously had poor muscle tone and limited strength.

Lilla says she’s excited to return to Mindstretch in 2021 and meet all the “new friends” joining her class. Now, that’s a child who’s found social ease indeed!

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