In 1993, Lisa Jones began her career helping the children of Heartspring. She learned about the Institute of Logopedics (now Heartspring) while attending classes at Wichita State University. She had an assignment to observe classes, and while doing so, she was offered a job.
Lisa has become an asset in activities that reach beyond the classroom. She has been involved in Special Olympics since the beginning of her career. For the past several years she has traveled to Missouri with the Special Olympics team to attend the Heartland Winter Games. Lisa says this is a great opportunity for the students to spend the night in a hotel and swim in the pool and eat at restaurants, things that most of them had rarely done.
“It is just a different experience for them. Things that might upset them while in the classroom don’t even phase them when they are at a Special Olympics event. They are so energized. It is like you see a totally different side of them. They are just being kids.”
Students regularly transition from Heartspring to various facilities around the country. When they reach the age of 21 they are moved to an adult facility, while other students who make progress then transition back to their home state to be closer to their families. Lisa will often travel with the student to the new surrounding and works with the staff of the new facility to ensure a smooth transition.
“The staff at the new facility will shadow me for a few days, just to get to know the kid and their personality. The other organizations are grateful for this training because it makes it easier on everyone. It is also good for Heartspring because it can get us more students. As school districts and other agencies see that this is how we handle the transitioning.”
For Lisa, it is important for her students to reach their full potential, return to their home and be prepared to begin the new journey of their lives. Being able to have the opportunity to help with Special Olympics and to experience the growth and development of Heartspring students and watch them move to new environments is how she measures success.