A Step Up Ventura worker found Reena sitting alone under the slide, head down, shoulders shaking, quietly crying. Reena had again been left out of her classmates' play. On hands and knees, the worker scooted under the slide and sat close to Reena, gently talking to her about how sad and lonely she looked. With words mostly impossible to understand, Reena said she didn't have any friends. Reena is a kind and affectionate child but has severe speech and language delays due to early childhood deprivation from unstable living conditions and caretaking. Not being able to understand her, peers often ignored or rejected her attempts to play with them.
Step Up Ventura workers and volunteers worked extensively with Reena, giving hours of one-on-one adult attention, guidance, and educational support. Reena's speech and language skills are growing daily and she no longer isolates herself in tears of hurt and frustration. Recently, the worker heard her name being called out by a classmate inviting her to play with him and her laughing as she ran to join him.