Region 8 students make other students "Smile"

(Source: KAIT-TV)
(Source: KAIT-TV)

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Special needs students across Region 8 were smiling on Wednesday thanks to a group of students at Valley View.

Project Smile kicked off on the school's football field around nine in the morning.

A Fun and Field Day of events, targeting special needs kids, was organized by three Valley View Junior High 8th grade students Molly Findley, Hadley Rose Grisham, and Claire Brown.

Findley said they've had this day in the works for some time now.

"We're having a track and fun day for all the special needs students from four different schools," Findley said. "We've been planning this for a while. So, they're running track events and playing different games. We've got lunch provided and we're just hoping to have a great time."

Grisham said they came up with the idea last year.

"This all started in November back before Thanksgiving break," Grisham said. "We had a Thanksgiving dinner and thought we wanted to do something more. We had a lot of fun and we thought about those kids sitting in a classroom by themselves away from the whole student community. And so, we're like trying to get them more involved in the student environment."

Brown said that's one reason why this project was important to them.

"We saw that the kids in our building weren't as involved with our school as we were," Brown said. "And we wanted them to get more involved and to do more."

It took the girls around seven months to pull the event off.

Grisham said seeing so many kids out on the track participating did just what they wanted.

"It's like our project," Grisham said. "Our project is called Project Smile and it makes me smile. It's why we named it that. We love to see all the kids smiling like they are today. And every time I go to talk to them they're having the best time ever. It really makes me happy knowing that we have created something that has made them really happy."

But they didn't stop with their school.

They opened up the event to others.

"We decided we wanted this to be more of a local thing," Brown said. "We wanted other people to see what we were doing and maybe they would start it in their school."

All three girls said they hoped students who participated left with new friends and feeling good about themselves.

"I hope when they go home they realize that know they're just the same as everyone else," Grisham said. "I hope they know they can do everything everyone else can and they aren't limited. I hope they make really good friends with all the people that are helping out. I hope they take home a lot of new friendships."

"I hope they realize how special they are to everybody," Findley said. "And I hope they know how much they mean to everybody in our community."

"I hope they know they are the same as everyone else," Brown added. "They mean just as much and I hope they're happy."

Findley said doing this for them meant a lot to her and her fellow classmates.

"These kids make me so happy and they're just so special to me," she said. "I love all of them."

"The more I help people the happier I am," Brown said. "So, I'm going to keep going and help more people."

"I think I'm going to take away a sense of accomplishment," Grisham said. "Knowing that I've accomplished something that I've been wanting to do for a long time and working hard for a long time. It makes me happy."

Around 80 students from Nettleton, Harrisburg, and Westside also came out and participated in the day.

They hope to make this an annual event that grows each year.

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