What’s Happened to Brittany, Jonny and Kaylie?
From left: Kaylie Hegwood, 11, Brittany Smith, 11, Johnny Davis, 14, when Poor Kids first aired in 2012.
Poor Kids, which first aired in November 2012, ended with the children in different places. Kaylie and her family were planning on moving into a trailer and beginning school as soon as they had a permanent residence. Brittany’s family had just welcomed a baby boy into the world and was struggling to make ends meet. Jonny and his family had moved from a shelter into transitional housing, and Jonny was hoping to play football in high school. More than two years later, how are they doing?
By the end of 2012, Kaylie was back in school and loving it. Her mother, Barbara, signed her up to meet with the school counselor for support and she received tutoring in math to catch up on the time she had missed while moving around. The family has moved several times since the film first aired, and viewers’ donations have helped Barbara pay for rent, bills, furniture and school supplies for Kaylie and her brother Tyler.
In January 2013, the Quad City Arts’ Visiting Artists Series — a group that helps students gain exposure to the arts — invited Kaylie to watch a performance by the Lula Washington Dance Company. In Poor Kids Kaylie said she felt it was her “destiny” to become a professional dancer, and this was her first time seeing a live performance. She was even invited on stage at the end of the show and did her signature handstand.
As of July 2014, Kaylie and her family are living in a trailer, but struggling to keep up with their bills. Barbara is working on getting her Certified Nursing Assistant license with hopes of getting certified to become a Licensed Practical Nurse.
In April 2013, Brittany and her family were caught in massive flooding that afflicted the Quad Cities, but survived with minimal damage to their home. Many others in the area lost everything. The family began saving up money to repair the flood damages. They originally planned to stay in their home, but trouble at the bank means they will be looking to move by next summer.
Brittany’s father is working again following a brief health scare, but her mother continues to struggle with high levels of stress — her episodes have sent her to the hospital before.
Zakkary, who was born at the end of the film, had medical issues that required frequent care, and the family had to drive back and forth to doctors in Peoria, Ill. Donations from FRONTLINE viewers have helped pay for his care, gas and repairs for the truck, and the family expresses gratitude for all the help.
In April 2013, a viewer gave Jonny, an aspiring football player, a “Legends of Iowa” football camp scholarship as a gift. The camp was coached and presented by current and former Iowa Hawkeye players and coaches, and even some NFL players.
Jonny is playing high school football and working on maintaining his grades. His brothers, Jaylan and Joshua, both have excellent grades. Jasmine, their sister, came down with asthma and a lung infection, which required frequent trips to the doctor. However, she was also able to keep her grades up.
The move into transitional housing was not as easy as the family had hoped. The children were not allowed outside and there were several robberies and fights in their complex. The family left after two months and moved to a smaller house, where they are much happier. Jonny’s father, Tom, got a job as head of security at a factory and was able to earn a more steady income.
In March 2014, the family fulfilled their long-term dream of returning to Florida — Tom got a job and the family was able to make the move with help from viewer donations.
For those with questions about how to help the people featured in Poor Kids, filmmaker Jezza Neumann’s company, True Vision, has established an independent charity, the Aletheia Foundation, to collect donations for people featured in its films. Additional details are available here.