Faces of Freedom - Owen

It is difficult to put into words just how much the Arkansas Succeed Scholarship has meant to our family. We became recipients of it for the first time this year, and it made it possible for our son, Owen, to not only receive a quality education but also get the one-on-one care that he has needed for so long.

Owen suffers from PANS/PANDAS and has since he was about four years old. This immunocompromising disease means he has symptoms that mimic ASD, Bipolar Disorder, DMDD, Oppositional Defiance, ADHD, as well as ticks and various other behavioral issues in response to illness. His body immediately attacks his brain when it encounters any kind of infection resulting in episodes of extreme irritability, mood swings, aggression, inability to focus, and even memory loss.

For years, we have moved from public school to public school only to have him placed in one ALE program after another. We were repeatedly told that this was our only option besides homeschooling (which is unfortunately not an option for us since both myself and my husband work full-time).

We were also told that because he had missed so much academically in ALE, he would need remediation in all subjects even if he could transition to a regular classroom. We knew that Owen was capable of so much more. We also knew that private schools offered smaller class sizes and sincerely felt that this environment would allow Owen the accommodations he required while giving him a solid education.

Wanting to give him his best possible chance, we sold what we could and took out loans from family members in order to place him in a private school in Bryant. The change was immediate. Owen thrived. He obtained All-A honor roll for the whole year and actually made friends for the first time in his life.

The cost of the tuition though had taken a serious toll on our budget and after two years, we were having to consider putting Owen back in public school despite the fact that this had never been a good environment for him. And then we heard about the Succeed Scholarship.

It truly brings tears to my eyes to think of what this scholarship has given to our family. We were at the end of our financial rope with private school tuition, and this scholarship saved us and our son. Because of the scholarship, our son, who had fallen through the cracks of the educational system was listened to and provided for. Because of this scholarship, he has found a safe learning environment that would not otherwise have been an option for him.

I realize that there is so much pressure on legislators and officials to use state funds effectively. I cannot imagine the weight that must carry for all of those serving our state so selflessly. In regards to this scholarship, please know that words cannot describe how grateful our family (and countless others across the state) is and forever will be. Because of this scholarship, our son is no longer forgotten and hopeless. Because of this scholarship, he is succeeding beyond anything we thought imaginable. Because of this scholarship, we have so much hope for his future. I am immensely proud and thankful to be a resident of a state where even those with extreme challenges are not only considered, but truly cared for. Thank you again for providing this incredible opportunity for families all over Arkansas; it has truly made all the difference.

– Lauren, parent

Click here to learn more about the Succeed Scholarship!