Meet Iker: 2021 Family Advocacy Week Champion
Iker is participating in Speak Now for Kids Family Advocacy Week from June 13-18, 2021. Through this event, Iker and his family will discuss his health journey, St. Joseph's Children's Hospital’s role in providing him with necessary health care services, and why the public and our elected officials must invest in the future of patients like Iker.
A social worker connected Iker with Sharon when he was a sophomore in high school after recognizing he needed mentoring and someone to talk to.
“After spending time with Iker, I knew he needed access to a range of behavioral health services to help him move forward in life,” says Sharon, Iker’s guardian.
Recognizing Iker's needs enabled significant improvement for his mental and physical health. With access to healthy food and proper health care, he’s gained weight, started exercising and skateboarding.
“He also has consistent access to a primary care doctor, and will soon see the dentist, hoping for the braces that he wants so badly,” says Sharon.
Iker receives care from St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital and BayCare Health System's Community Action Team (CAT), which provides services for kids at high risk of adverse outcomes like hospitalization or out-of-home placement. Through this behavioral health team, Iker receives mentoring, a therapist, case manager, and physiatrist for medication management.
As a result of this care, including access to the right medications, Iker is learning to cope with his past. He is more open to talking about his feelings, fears and anxiety, and he’s excited about his future.
Iker is on track to become the first on either side of his biological family to graduate high school – with straight A’s too. Iker plans to attend college, where he will study technology and computer science.
“Without this care, my life would have been a lot harder,” says Iker. “Many of my hardships would have made me lose hope and motivation. It has helped me find the care I needed for a long time.”