ARRM Cares Award Nominee: Jordyn Sayler

We all love the feeling you get when you immediately hit it off with someone—you smile, chat voraciously, and most likely tell a special person in your life “about this great person you met earlier.” This is exactly what happened when Jackie met Jordyn. There was that extra spark, that hidden understanding, that special smile. You could just see the ease in Jackie’s eyes every time Jordyn interacted with her. There was a mutual understanding between the two of them that just made sense and anyone who was around them could sense it.

Jackie often experienced great anxiety in the community, in large groups, and with unfamiliar people.  Although these settings were not always successful for Jackie, Jordyn understood the importance of community integration and knew how much joy community experiences could bring Jackie. Jordyn was determined to find ways to bring this joy to Jackie.

Jordyn started small. She took Jackie on walks to familiar locations and encouraged increased interactions with family and friends. Jordyn even coordinated get-togethers with one of Jackie’s classmates. During this exploratory period, the two solidified their own relationship by building confidence and learning each other’s communication style. Jordyn discovered Jackie preferred when Jordyn wore her hair up and didn’t wear her glasses—which appeared to make it easier for Jackie to read Jordyn’s expression. As their communication and confidence grew, they ventured out to new spots in the community. Jackie was beginning to discover the joys the community has to offer.

Then came the BIG event—Camp H.E.R.O., a three-day camp where more than 60 people with disabilities get to experience the great outdoors. Jordyn put in place all the little things that would make the experience successful. She filled the two-hour drive with music, girly chatter and activities that would keep Jackie’s hands busy. She repeatedly described the events and sights they would encounter once they arrived. Jordyn broke everything down. For example, she described in detail what Jackie would see, hear, smell, and feel when riding a horse. Jordyn also made sure every meal and snack was accommodated to Jackie’s special diet. Jordyn would check in with the kitchen before meals, ask about the snacks throughout the day, and help brainstorm ways to make snacks fun for Jackie. She knew Jackie would enjoy sitting around the fire during the evening, but would not get to eat s’mores due to dietary restrictions. So Jordyn filled a bag with Chex mix and added marshmallows and chocolate chips to make the campfire experience perfect for Jackie.

While at Camp HERO, Jackie smiled for three straight days!  Jordyn made sure Jackie got to experience all of the things camp had to offer—she even rode a horse!

Jordyn’s ability to understand Jackie’s needs and then move forward with the necessary modifications is outstanding. Watching the two of them together sparks the hearts of all who get to witness the joy on Jackie’s face.

Jordyn was one of 150 Minnesota DSPs nominated for a 2017 ARRM Cares Award for his work at CCRI. The ARRM Cares Award program began in 1996 to recognize professional caregivers who provide exemplary service to people with disabilities. Recipients of this award have demonstrated they are committed to providing innovative, professional services to people with intellectual, developmental, and physical disabilities. Each year, six outstanding Minnesotans are selected for this award.

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