Sedrick is accustomed to the feel of a hard floor against his body. As a boy, he had no choice but to lay on his stomach and pull himself across the floor with his arms. “Scooting,” as Sedrick describes it, was the only way he could maneuver.
Sedrick was four years old when he was severely abused and neglected. A resulting brain injury not only caused developmental challenges, but it robbed him of his ability to walk. His feet turned abnormally inward, and the boy could no longer stand flat-footed. Despite his condition, Sedrick was even denied the wheelchair he needed.
“At the place I was a long time ago, I had to scoot everywhere,” Sedrick describes, his brow furrowed. “I was left alone in the house. I was not getting fed. I was sleeping on the floor every night.
“Nobody cared – that broke my heart.”
But Sedrick’s cruel childhood experience could not break his spirit or steal away his contagious joy. Today, the 28-year-old receives the care he needs at Stegall Home in Marshville. There, he is surrounded by his compassionate caregivers and “brothers.”
“I love my group home.” Sedrick says. “Mike, Ronnie, David, Carey, and Billy who live with me – they are my brothers.”
Stegall Home for men is one of nine group homes for developmentally disabled residents administrated by Baptist Children’s Homes (BCH) statewide.
Unlike when he was a child, Sedrick has good reason for spending time on the floor at Stegall. Sedrick had surgery to correct the issue with his feet. He now exercises on the floor with the help of trainer Sheryl Pressley.
Pressley began working with Sedrick oneon-one in December 2013. The exercises, including push-ups, leg lifts, isometrics, and abdominals, are strengthening Sedrick’s legs and upper body.
With the help of Pressley and Stegall Home staff members, Sedrick is realizing his dream to walk again.
“He’s always so excited about the exercises. He does everything I ask him to do and never complains,” Pressley says. “Sedrick does everything with joy.”
Pressley is known as an Innovations worker. Through Medicaid funding, the North Carolina Innovations Waiver (formerly the Community Alternatives Program for Persons with Mental Retardation/Developmental Disabilities) is a resource for funding services to support people with intellectual and related developmental disabilities.
Five days a week, Sedrick completes a routine of floor exercises with Pressley’s guidance. He also spends 30 minutes each day in a stander. A stander supports Sedrick in an upright position creating the best position for him to strengthen his legs. Sedrick builds up his hand muscles by squeezing and shaping dense balls of putty.
Through the aid of Pressley, Stegall Home staff members, and a conventional walker, Sedrick is now taking steps for the first time since he was a young boy.
“My legs are getting stronger.” Sedrick exclaims. “I am blessed because I can walk.”
Pressley provides extra physical support for Sedrick when he uses his walker. One of his fellow Stegall residents is always close behind with Sedrick’s wheelchair in case it’s needed.
“The guys here love helping each other,” Pressley notes. “Everyone works together in love.”
Sedrick exercises in his bedroom and then walks to the stander located in the living room. He then returns to the bedroom walking a total of 225 feet per day.
“I’m proud of myself,” Sedrick beams. “I feel strong.”
Pressley and Sedrick have formed a close bond in their short time together. It’s not uncommon to hear them singing along with Gospel music while exercising. For Pressley, being at Stegall is an answer to prayer.
“The Lord brought me here,” she says. “What I’m doing for Sedrick is nothing compared to what my working with him has done for me. My life has been changed by being at Stegall.”
And so has Sedrick’s. “I don’t have to think about scooting anymore. My Savior is so awesome.”
Sedrick's story was originally featured in the April 2014 issue of Charity & Children.
Learn more about Baptist Children's Homes of North Carolina's Developmental Disabilities Ministry at www.hereismyhome.org