Happy Heart Day

aj pinto and mary downe

AJ and Mary at the Christmas Ball

School friends are so fabulous, aren’t they? They hold a place in our hearts like no other. At one time or another, we’ve all wondered about what’s happened to our school friends. Sometimes it’s out of pure curiosity and other times it’s the desire to rekindle a friendship. Sometimes the wondering leads to wonderful surprise reunions.  When Adrien (AJ) Pinto and Mary Downey arrived at the 2012 Christmas Ball, they had no idea that the other was attending the event.  Both were planning on a fun evening, but what the night had in store was more than just dancing and laughing.  It was a reunion of happy hearts, sixteen years in the making.

Eighteen years ago, Mary Downy and Adrian (AJ) Pinto were enrolled in the Happy Hearts Preschool Program. They were three years old and just beginning their educational career.  A friendship quickly blossomed between Adrian and Mary.  They enjoyed playing together, running in the gym, art class and swimming in the pool.  One day, Adrian came home from school with an invitation to Mary’s birthday party. He and his mom were talking about it when AJ said, “Mom, they say she has Down syndrome, but I don’t get it.” He continued saying “I don’t get it, they say she has Down Syndrome, but she’s always up.”   Their friendship grew until the children graduated from Happy Hearts and went off to kindergarten.

Today, Valentine’s Day, our classrooms and hallways are decorated with hearts, but to me, happy hearts are more than decorations – it’s a very unique program. Our Happy Hearts Early Childhood Education Program provides a state-of-the-art educational experience where all preschool children have the opportunity to learn and grow. The program offers a progressive, innovative curriculum that encourages the development of creativity, self-direction, positive peer interactions and communication. Happy Hearts guides each child toward his or her potential.

Adrian and Mary are two of the hundreds of children who have graduated from Happy Hearts since its inception in the early 80’s.  On Valentine’s Day, a day of happy hearts, I think of their friendship.  What better day than Valentine’s Day to celebrate friendships and those who live in our hearts.

Happy Valentine’s Day

Special Parenting Guide Teri Mauro shares Love Notes for Special Parents Gallery: it’s a collection of printable, frameable appreciations for parents who knock themselves out all year round to make life better for a special needs child.

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