Reaching 4 Excellence: Rough start in life doesn’t hold back Kansas teenager

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ROELAND PARK, Kan. -- Life often deals people a pretty bad hand.  Some never overcome the adversities that beset them.  Others find strength and resources in themselves and others to succeed and triumph.  So it is with this week’s FOX 4 young achiever whose champions in his family and at his school have enabled him to harness his strong intellect and work ethic and make them work for him.

The Museum at Prairiefire in Overland Park, Kansas is a very popular attraction with its captivating interactive natural history exhibits and programs.  And volunteer guide David Flower-Carrothers is in the Discovery Room a lot.  With uncommon patience and kindness David helps kids and their families get the most out of their visits.

“He brings his incredible vast intellect into this Discovery Room,” said Museum Experience Director Kim Madden.  “He shows them maybe new artifacts or objects that maybe they wouldn’t normally see and he brings them to light in a way I think most adults and children wouldn’t even think about.”

“I love helping kids,” said David.  “It’s cool.”

David fills his life with volunteer work and community service like this.  He and his family care for rescue dogs at their home, sometimes as many as seven at a time.

“It’s like a special award that you save a dog’s life,” said David.

And as an avid and talented distance runner David participates in charity 3K and 5K runs.

“He’s a strong spirit and there’s a lot there that he wants to help others,” said David’s dad, John Flower.

With that strong spirit, David also helps out his school, Horizon Academy in Roeland Park where he’s doing very well academically and as a leader as he heads into 10th grade.  He’s the school’s chief traffic safety manager at student pickup time.  It’s a big responsibility that he’s done for quite a while and takes very seriously.

“I can do it because I’m self-motivated,” said David.  “I’m also self-driven. I love my duty.”

There is much to admire and respect about all that David has accomplished and contributes but it’s all the more impressive because of the rough start he had in life and some of the hurdles he’s had to clear.

“From the moment we started working with him, I had to wear him for a year, constantly in front of me,” said Flower.

Flower and his partner, Richard Carrothers, adopted David when he was a year-and-a-half old from an orphanage in China.  David got almost no stimulus there and was usually tied down day and night in his crib because there wasn’t enough staff to watch all the kids in the orphanage.  His dads gave him plenty of unconditional love and support but found out a few years later David had serious learning disabilities associated with ADHD.

“And it just was a matter with David, finding the right resources and the right connections,” said Flower.  They found them at Horizon Academy which specializes in educating children who learn differently.

“And he blossomed,” said Flower. “They literally turned his life around.”

Horizon has enabled David to harness his strong intellect and make it work for him.

“Every kid that goes to my school has a superpower,” said David, “a special superpower.”

“David stands out because of his work ethic,” said Horizon Academy teacher Rachel Denning.

Denning has been teaching David at Horizon for several years and has watched him blossom.

“One of David’s superpowers, obviously is his drive,” said Denning.  “But in addition to that, I think David’s always had a kind of emotional intelligence.  He has this extra sense of what other people need, as well.”

“We had a great kid to work with in the first place and just needed the right opportunity.”  A super powered kid.

“You just have to find your powers,” said David.

His parents and teachers say David never says “I can’t do” and thinks he can do just about anything.  His real passion besides volunteer service, they say, is cars and trucks and at age 16, he’s now driving.  David’s also a whiz on computers.

FOX 4 News is Working 4 You to spotlight outstanding young people and their positive accomplishments.  In our weekly report called Reaching 4 Excellence we meet young achievers in subjects like academics, the arts, leadership, community service, volunteerism, career exploration, overcoming obstacles and heroism.  Watch for Reaching 4 Excellence every Wednesday on Fox 4 News at 9 p.m. and every Thursday on Fox 4 News at 8 a.m. and noon.


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