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PHOTO ESSAY:
AVALYN, THE HELPFUL ONE

Avalyn Berry is a fifth grade student at Sedalia Middle School in Sedalia, Mo. Avalyn lives in a house with seven of her other siblings, her father Raymond Berry and step-mom Kaylea Spain, and Avalyn’s step-grandparents Craig Spain and Deyette Bragaw. Avalyn and two of her brothers previously lived with her mother, but moved into the house in July, 2023 after her mother went to drug rehab. 

 

After taking time to adjust to the different living space, she soon looked for ways to help out Raymond and Kaylea with duties around the house. “I just thought they would need an extra set of hands,” she said while picking up her siblings from school. Avalyn continues to balance her responsibilities as an older sister to her siblings in the home while still holding onto her adventurous and loving childhood spirit. “I like to help them because I know they might struggle with things and being a big sister, I know that it’s hard for them and I just want to help them with that.”

Avalyn Berry, 10, rests in her bedroom at her home. She shares the bedroom with her twin sisters, Samantha Berry and Sa’Mya Berry, both 4, and decided to rest before they joined her to go to sleep. 
Avalyn Berry, 10, touches the foot of her brother, Silas Berry, 19 months, in the living room. Avalyn sat on the couch after returning home from school in order to be closer to him.  
Avalyn Berry, 10, holds her brother, Silas Berry, 19 months, in the living room. After learning Silas was home sick from daycare, Avalyn embraced him upon seeing him. “She just helps out a lot, she just loves babies and stuff,” said Kaylea Spain, her step-mother.
Saint Berry, 6, left, looks on as Avalyn Berry, 10, pauses while the two eat birthday cake from the previous day. Living with seven other siblings in the home, Avalyn still finds moments for herself. 
Avalyn Berry, 10, runs across a canal while walking home after picking up her brothers from elementary school. Avalyn walks a couple of miles each day to pick up her brothers, and usually chooses to race across the spillway for fun. 
Craig Spain, 53, left, watches as Avalyn Berry, 10, prepares herself a cup of coffee in the kitchen. Avalyn excitedly asked Craig, known in the house as “Papa,” if she could have a cup of coffee, and he agreed to help her. 
From left, Kaylea Spain, 29, and her mother Deyette Bragaw, 54, watch as Kaylea’s son Saint Berry, 6, and step-son Adrian Berry, 9, leave for school outside of their home. Every morning, Saint and Adrian bike to their school together.
Avalyn Berry, 10, looks through binoculars while exploring the area outside of her home. Although she takes on certain responsibilities with supporting her siblings and helping around the house, she still finds ways to follow her childlike curiosity and adventurous spirit. 
Avalyn Berry, 10, lifts up her youngest sibling, Santana Berry, 8 months, in the living room of her family's house in Sedalia, Mo., on Sept. 27, 2023.  
Avalyn Berry, 10, tests out a pair of binoculars in the shed outside the house. Avalyn went into the shed to find something to keep herself occupied after spending time inside with her siblings, and eventually found the binoculars. 
Avalyn Berry, 10, center, dances during a childcare service at the evening service at LifePointe Church. During the service, the children in the group dance, play instruments, and do other activities that center around their faith. 
Avalyn Berry, 10, second from left, looks on as she waits in line to go to recess at Sedalia Middle School in Sedalia. During recess, Avalyn spent time her best friends that are not in her class. 
From left, Kaylea Spain, left, holds Silas Berry, 19 months, as her step-daughter Avalyn Berry, 10, holds Santana Berry, 8 months, in the kitchen. Avalyn will look for ways to help out Kaylea with caring for her other siblings. “She is just like my little mini-me,” Kaylea said. 
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