CAS-Carrera Particpant Perspective: Christ

Participant Profile: Christ

When Christ enrolled in CAS-Carrera as a fifth grader at the Bronx Preparatory Charter School (“Bronx Prep”), he struggled to keep up with his peers in the classroom. CAS-Carrera’s academic team worked closely with him to develop solid study habits, master literacy and math skills, and prepare for standardized tests. Christ’s hard work paid off and he arrived ready and eager to tackle the sixth grade at Bronx Prep. Unfortunately, a recurrence of a different kind of challenge left him demoralized and self-conscious: Christ began losing his hair.

His family dermatologist diagnosed alopecia, which is attributed to an abnormality in the body’s immune system that leads to patches of hair falling out of the body or head. Alopecia is not curable but can be responsive to some treatments. But after a few months of neighborhood care, Christ and his family were discouraged by the lack of any signs of improvement. He began to withdraw socially and he participated less in classroom discussions.

CAS-Carrera’s multi-component program design is designed to address complex problems such as Christ’s with a comprehensive solution. In that connection, after CAS-Carrera Medical Advocate Eddie Jimenez accompanied Christ and his mother to an appointment with their dermatologist, he recommended they get a second opinion from Dr. Alan Kling, CAS-Carrera’s longtime medical partner. Dr. Kling recommended and implemented a more intense dosage of corticosteroid injections plus oral medications. Within days of Dr. Kling’s first round of aggressive treatments, Christ could see hair growing on his scalp.

Despite the successful treatment, the prospect of being subjected to scores of injections every other week is not a welcome one. Fortunately, CAS-Carrera Medical Advocates are available to escort participants to appointments when parents are not available or if families need an advocate in the room with them. Mr. Jimenez wisely arranged lunch dates to coincide with these medical visits. Soon, Christ’s queries of “How many shots do I have to get?” became “Where are we going to eat?” as they explored cuisine on the Upper East Side that is harder to come by in Christ’s Bronx neighborhood. When Christ’s treatment plan called for morning office visits every other week that took him out of school, CAS-Carrera Medical, Education and Mental Health staff worked alongside the classroom teacher to ensure Christ kept up with his schoolwork. Throughout this whole process Christ was able to maintain his grades, develop strong friendships, and keep his positive view on life.

Thanks to the comprehensive response of dedicated CAS-Carrera component specialists and program partners like Dr. Kling, Christ was proud to begin seventh grade with a full head of hair and on track for high school.

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