MAYVILLE - Chautauqua Lake Central School students and staff are finding inspiration in one of their own.
Jordyn Majka, an eighth-grade honor roll student at CLCS, has already faced overwhelming life obstacles despite being only a month away from her 14th birthday. Jordyn was diagnosed with autism at a very young age and according to her mother, Rennae, it has taken a lot of time, patience and therapy to get Jordyn to where she is today.
"She was diagnosed at 18 months," said Rennae, who is a first-grade teacher at CLCS. "The autism diagnosis was because of lack of eye contact, lack of speech, she did self-stimulatory behavior and it was pretty apparent right away that something was not normal. We got a screening done through Buffalo Children's Hospital, where she was diagnosed, and we started receiving 30 hours of therapy per week in the home when she was 2 all the way up until she went to pre-school at 4. We continued to receive the 30 hours (of therapy) from age 4 to 5 in addition to a preschool program."
Ms. Majka credits Jordyn's academic success to the intensive therapy sessions, known as Applied Behavior Analysis, that Jordyn received from her early diagnosis.
Jordyn has since expressed her individuality by joining the CLCS girls' varsity swim team in addition to being involved in girl scouts. Jordyn has also participated in the local 4-H Sheep Project, where she raised and trained her own lamb over the summer for show at the Chautauqua County Fair, and Centaur Stride, a therapeutic horse riding and care program for people with and without disabilities.
According to her mother, Jordyn's true passion is swimming and being in the water.
"She started swimming when she was about 4," said Rennae. "We have a family pool at home and she's always been driven by the pool, it's her one real love. It has a calming effect on her and many kids with autism, as well."
Jordyn became involved with the CLCS girls' varsity swim team through her participation in the Swim and Dive Club, a parent paid afterschool program that acts as a feeder program for the swim team. She has been participating on the team for two seasons and according to Kathy Freeman, coach of the girls' varsity swim team, she has become its biggest cheerleader.
"Jordyn has done a great job on the swim team," said Freeman, who is also the secretary for CLCS' Learning Support department. "She will lead cheers, she gives a pep talk before each meet and she has been a really nice addition to the team. The other girls have been great, they include her in everything, and I think it's been great for the girls to see what it's like to work with somebody who has a disability."
Jordyn's swim meet events include the 50-meter freestyle, the backstroke, the breaststroke and the butterfly stroke. In both of her swimming seasons, her teammates have nominated her for the team's "Will to Win" award because of her team player mentality.
"Jordyn is always really truly happy to be there and always has the biggest smile on her face," said teammate Abbey Jantzi. "Us girls would say she's probably the best underwater swimmer on the team. She gives the best pep talks and she's really improved on her (50-meter freestyle) time this year."
According to her mother, Jordyn has always struggled with socialization and relating to her peers. The students at CLCS and her teammates on the swim team, however, have been instrumental with incorporating her in the activities of an average school student.
"It's really hard but she's got a great, supportive group around her," said Rennae. "Kids in our community are wonderful, I can't speak enough about how good those kids are. Her friends are fantastic and they really support us."