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Do you remember what it felt like to be seven years old? Close your eyes and picture yourself at seven playing on the swings with your best friend. Now imagine a seven year old living in a home where violence and neglect were everyday occurrences and the solution was to move from county to county to avoid being discovered. Until one day your mom has had enough and you witness her murder your step-father.

Seven-year-old Brandon lived this scenario. He arrived at Tennyson Center a year ago. He was terrified, unable to speak, malnourished and underweight.

The Tennyson Center staff knew that before any therapy work could begin they first needed to meet his basic needs. He needed to feel safe and not worry about his next meal. Once Brandon was stabilized he started school at Tennyson—his first time succeeding in a classroom.

Brandon’s learning went way beyond academics. He was given intensive speech therapy, occupational therapy and was taught basic social skills. In the cottage at night his learning continued as the staff taught him how to shower and take care of himself. In the midst of all of this Brandon received emotional therapy, what the staff call ‘trauma work’, to help him begin to heal.

After a year of hard work, the little boy in Brandon started to shine through. He became attached to staff and named all of his stuffed animals Chris after his favorite clinician. Brandon’s speech had improved significantly and he was showing appropriate social skills—he was ready for the next step in his journey, which would be a foster home.

Brandon is now living with loving foster parents. He just experienced his first Christmas tree, he has a dog that he loves to play with and is taking break dancing lessons with his foster dad. Brandon is attending public school and learning alongside his third grade classmates.

The work at Tennyson Center for Children has given Brandon the chance that every child deserves. A chance to be hopeful. A chance to reach his potential. A chance to be a child.

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