Havre Daily News/Lindsay Brown
Frankie Walter shows off his new iPad given to him by the Havre Jaycees. Special software on the iPad helps him communicate without using sign language.
The Havre Jaycees meeting last Tuesday night was a bit more emotional than most.
Sixteen-year-old Frankie Walter, a Havre High School student, was given his own iPad by Jaycees members.
This might be exciting to most young people, but Frankie, who is non-verbal and faces other challenges, was absolutely exhilarated.
The iPad, and associated equipment that will translate the iPad text into words, will help Frankie communicate with people he has been unable to talk to.
For Frankie, the whole experience started when the Havre School District provided Frankie with an iPad to use in school.
“It opened a whole new world to him, ” said Florence Walter, who praises teachers and staff who have worked with her grandson.
Prior to getting the iPad, he had a contraption that was heavy, bulky and not easy to use, she said.
“It was hard to carry around, ” she said.
Frankie and some of his family knew a form of sign language, but most friends and teachers did not, she said.
Once she became aware of the change the iPad brought to Frankie, Florence Walter put a notice on her Facebook page asking if people could point her in the direction of getting a iPad for home use.
Jenn Belcourt, who had been Frankie’s school aide for several years, saw the note. Belcourt is the secretary of the Havre Jaycees, and she approached the club about helping Frankie out.
Club members were excited about the idea.
They asked Florence Walter to come to the club’s next meeting to explain how the iPad would work for Frankie. Then, the members would decide what they could do.
But that was a ruse.
Members had already purchased the iPad, and the Eagles Club bought the voice system.
Jaycees President T. J. Daulton called the meeting to order and the club recited the Pledge of Allegiance.
Then he told Florence Walter she didn’t have to explain anything, and he gave Frankie the iPad.
Frankie jumped up and down in delight, and his grandmother broke into tears as she profusely thanked the members.
Florence Walter said Frankie is using the iPad more and more. Sometimes at home, they lapse into using sign language, she said, because they have used that form of communication for so long.
“But the other day, Frankie said ‘hi’ to his Uncle Frank for the first time, ” she said. “That was special. ”