If you have been keeping up with Imua via Social Media then you probably have heard about her! If not, allow me to introduce you to former Imua Family Services’ keiki and success story, Dana Fulton (pictured to the far left above.) In this episode of “Re-Connect” we take a deeper look at Dana’s past and the role Imua has played in her life! Check it.My name is Dana Fulton and I was born September 7, 1991. At birth on that early fall day in September back in 1991 on the island of Maui, I rode my first helicopter ride to Oahu for emergency tracheosopheal fistula correction surgery where a feeding tube was put in. Around late October, about 6 weeks after birth, severe strider set in and an emergency tracheostomy tube was placed the first week of November after numerous false surgeries were performed looking for the cause. In the beginning there were many empty promises of the tracheostomy getting removed but the months turned into years and the years turned into a decade. I was release from the hospital at 9 months old but adjustment to home life was hard in hot and humid Hawaii and was re-admitted frequently that first year. Eventually, we were able to move back to Maui and were handed over to Imua Family Services to help catch me up to peers both physically and communicatively. Fast forward 22 years, and this past Spring I graduated from Soka University of America with a BA in Social Behavior Sciences. I currently work at Akakū: Maui Community Television back in my beautiful home state of Hawaii. I don’t exactly have a dream job in mind, the ideal is more of my own path emerging from everything I love to do like helping families, working with children, inspiring people to push themselves, traveling, and editing video footage to make pieces that tell stories. When I’m not working in video production I enjoy the beach and going out with friends while I’m still young. I became a part of the Imua Family Services ohana in 1992. At the time, I was severely developmentally behind from being confined to a hospital bed the first 9months of my life. Imua’s Physical Therapists worked with me to strengthen my upper body, gradually helping me to sit up, and eventually to stand up gaining full control of my muscles. In my opinion, Imua was such a God-send because they not only allowed me to stay longer in the program, but they also allowed for my infant brother to join in on the play time and interact with the other children with me. Often times, siblings get inadvertently left behind when one child requires so much attention so it helps strengthen not only the sibling relationship, but also the socialization of the other child, when they are included in the therapy. I recall struggling with a particular exercise that required a therapist to lay me on my stomach and practice lifting myself up, for a while all I did was scream, but eventually I did it! The sign language and vocalization exercises gave strengthened my ability to communicate, which wasn’t even thought to be possible beforehand. Imua Family Services caught me back up to my peers so that when I began kindergarten in 1996, I was able to play and communicate with my new classmates, further I was more adept in socially due to my extensive therapy years at Imua. Today, I only have the scars and the tracheostomy to show for the years of peaks and pits. I continue to share my story and encourage families to see beyond the tracheostomy. Imua Family Services was there for my family when we needed it and helped set the foundation for the life I have now, so here I am, proud to be an Imua alumni!!
Watch a recent interview we did with Dana and her mother, Libby! MAHALO AKAKU for hosting us!!