The 15-year-old doesn’t like to talk about herself. When she’s asked about her achievements, she’s humble and shy. The one way she does speak is through her paintings.
“She comes up with creative ways to express herself,” explained Kaylea Mangrum, her art therapist.
“I’d love to know more about her as a person, but then we do through her art,” Mangrum continued.
What Jamise doesn’t like to talk about is the rare blood disease she was born with that’s plagued her most of her short life.
She also doesn’t like to talk about March 3, 2006, the day she got sick at Central Middle School and couldn’t feel her hands and feet.
She was admitted that day to Vanderbilt’s Children’s Hospital for pneumonia and kidney failure. She ended up on dialysis and suffered from septic shock.
She doesn’t like to talk about April 21, 2006, either. The day she underwent an eight-hour surgery to have her gangrenous hand and feet removed.
“I didn’t think I could draw or whatever. I didn’t think I could do anything again,” Jamise said about the days following the surgery.
But the rising sophomore at Siegel High School is a remarkable young lady. She did learn to draw again and write and walk and run and dance and even roller blade. She did all this with prosthetic legs.
“I tried a prosthetic hand once, but it just didn’t work,” Jamise said, explaining she hasn’t used the artificial hands since last year.
She relearned these skills thanks to Special Kids Inc.
Founded in 1998 by local nurse Carrie Goodwin, Special Kids provides therapy services and a loving environment for children with developmental and medical needs, explained Stephanie Folkmann, Special Kids public relations director.
Special Kids even provides pediatric skilled nursing care for medically fragile children who can’t go into typical day-care facilities. It also offers tutoring services for school-aged children and outpatient rehabilitation for children, like Jamise, who need any or all of the various therapies.
All services cost money, and it charges by an income-based, sliding-scale fee. However, insurance and fees only cover part of the cost of therapy, and last year Special Kids faced a $90,000 budget deficit, but managed to close the gap with donations from the public.
Special Kids holds many fundraisers throughout the year, including the ninth annual “Friendraiser” Banquet at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 12, at Calvary Baptist Church on Dejarnette Lane, where Jamise and her artwork will be honored.
When Jamise came to Special Kids, she received most of the services offered by the organization.
She was in a wheelchair, and her physical therapist, Julie Kniss, asked her if she thought she would ever walk without help again.
“She didn’t think she ever could, but we did,” Kniss said, adding that earlier this week Jamise had skated through the halls on roller blades.
Jamise did admit she almost fell once but managed to keep her balance.
“I was nervous about it at first, but she pushed and did great with it,” Kniss said. “I’ve learned not to underestimate her. If there’s something she wants to do, she does it.”
And drawing was one of the things she wanted to do, and the fact she lost her hands didn’t stop her.
“I always liked drawing in art class in school,” Jamise said, adding she draws whatever pops into her head.
Mangrum told Jamise she could sell her paintings if she wants to, but right now the only way to get them is reprints through Special Kids, which will be sold at the banquet.
Special Kids will also sell I Can: Children Creating Artwork at Special Kids, a book that documents Jamise and other special kids’ art.
Michelle Willard can be contacted at 615-869-0816 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact Special Kids Public Relations Director Stephanie Folkmann at email@example.com or 615-893-4892.