They call her Itsy, after the Itsy Bitsy Spider. She does hard things every day — sometimes exhausting therapies — but Itsy is determined and smiling.

“When Itsy started with therapy, she couldn’t hold her head up or track things with her eyes,” recalls Shamecka, Itsy’s mom. “She needed all this equipment and toys that we were trying to buy.” A therapist suggested Arc’s Capable Kids and Families (CKF) program.

CKF has helped the family get access to equipment they can borrow for as long as needed and switch out when it’s time to try something else. “Some of the specialized toys we’ve borrowed, to the naked eye, seem like regular toys,” says Shamecka. “But they’ve helped her so much, with learning cause and effect, or with getting her attention so she can learn.”

“Her brain is growing through all this playtime. People who see her now will say they didn’t realize she is the same child,” says her mom. “She has changed so much.”

Itsy’s special health needs and various medical interventions have meant a lot of physical recovery for her. For the past year, Itsy and her family have used a special piece of equipment known as a T

umble Forms Tadpole to build strength in her core muscles. Itsy uses the Tadpole regularly to strengthen muscles and experience a variety of positions, including tummy time, sitting for meals and standing.

“Now more than a year later, Itsy’s our little miracle! She’s sitting, holding her head up, talking,” says Shamecka.

As a busy mom, Shamecka appreciates not only the equipment but also the resources and family support CKF provides. She refers often to Arc’s e-newsletters that highlight community resources. That’s where she read about one of St Louis Arc’s collaborations with an organization that makes songs for children with health challenges.

“Knowing my child responds well to music, I reached out to them,” she says. “They made her a song using her name, and now our whole family goes around singing her the Itsy song! It’s just beautiful.”