Woman uses training to save toddler

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 4, 2019

Dawn Burleigh, Editor

By Dawn Burleigh

The Orange Leader

Jamekia Declouet knew she wanted to work with children and is grateful for the training required for daycare employees.

Wednesday afternoon began as any other afternoon, with parents picking up their little ones from Write the Vision Learning Center, located on Western Ave. in West Orange. But this Wednesday was not the same.

A 14-month-old Tyrone was in the car with his older sister, 4, and their grandfather.

“When I was getting in the car, my dad said, ‘I think he is choking.’ My baby was gasping to breathe,” Kanisha Grays said. “I started patting him on the back. Everything happened so fast.”

Declouet saw Grays and knew she needed to step in.

“I knew I had to save this child. It was the only thing on my mind,” Declouet said. “The training all came back to me.”

Both Grays and Declouet took a moment to hug each other and cry for a moment when they saw each other again on Thursday.

“Everything seemed so different afterward,” Declouet said. “Life can change in an instant. I felt everything, and her pain as she was going through it.”

“Everyone was helping, all of the staff,” Grays said. “It was so hard to see my baby try to breathe and not. So hard.”

Jacqueline James, the owner of the daycare, said to Grays, “You trusted us to know we were doing the best for him. It was so amazing. It took teamwork.”

Grays added, “Here we feel like family not like we are filling a slot.”

During the incident, as she watched her child gasp for air, she said it was scary not knowing what to do to help her baby.

“I knew I had to stay strong,” Grays said. “Once the candy was out, then I panicked.”

She too said everything felt different afterward.

“I think I am a good mother, but I couldn’t save my child,” Grays said. “I looked at my children differently that night because I could lose them.”

A thought no parent wants to consider.

Jacqueline James said the requirements for training for daycare workers requires them to be trained in first aid, and CPR for infant, pediatrics, child, and adult. The certification is good for two years.

“Most require retraining every two years,” James said. “We have a refresher every year.”

Write the Vision Learning Center has been in Orange for approximately eight years.

“Children are my ministry,” James said. “What keeps our city growing is our youth. We have to give them a foundation to build upon.”

James is also working on training classes for all the parents whose children attend the center, so they can be better prepared in the future.

Jamekia Declouet, who has been with Write the Vision Learning Center for about a year as a floater, remains grateful she was required to have the training which saved a child’s life.

As a floater, Declouet works with all age groups.