Gr8 Acts of Kindness winner leads movement for change

Published: Mar. 29, 2023 at 10:52 PM CDT
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POCAHONTAS, Ark. (KAIT) - If only we could all see the world through the lens of this month’s Gr8 Acts of Kindness winner.

Kelley Blackwell has a gift for finding and bringing out the best in everyone.

Not just anyone can do what Blackwell has. She’s on a mission, every single day.

“We’re trying to change these kids’ lives,” she said. “It’s not about what we’re doing for them.”

As an occupational therapist, Blackwell’s goal is to improve the lives of children like Lawson Dean at Integrated Therapy Services in Pocahontas.

“She’s a huge advocate for so many families,” said Britne Harwell of Integrated Therapy Services. “She has people to ask her advice constantly, and she has a huge heart to support.”

Blackwell is supporting children, but also their parents because many times, they feel like their child is not seen because of their disability.

“She wants to really change the narrative of our special needs community, how they are approached and accepted,” Abby Tyler said.

That’s why Blackwell has worked to create a non-profit called The Growing Minds Foundation. It works to raise understanding and inclusion for those with disabilities, and it helps fill an important gap in funding through medical scholarships.

“She went above and beyond to start this foundation to be able to give, you know, a few families some money to give them a little leeway to choose something that medical insurance wouldn’t pay for,” Harwell said. “You know, just out of their reach to afford it. It could be a wheelchair, it could be a therapeutic conference.”

“We decided you know $5,000 or $10,000, you’re talking about a change in someone’s life,” Blackwell said. “So that was our goal was to start with $10,000 and we exceeded that. We were blown away, blown away by our community.”

A fall festival kicked things off.

Since then, support has continued to grow on social media and Pocahontas has come to embrace the message.

This wife, mother, and daughter are at the forefront of a movement for change.

“I never would have guessed this was coming for me so I was very shocked!” Blackwell said.