Hawaiian elementary school provides outpouring of support for special needs student

KAHULUI, Hawaii — Kindness can be contagious. that’s the lesson at one elementary school on Maui.

Every child just wants to be accepted at school, and every parent just wants the same for their child. That’s why Vanessa Ince was scared for daughter Alexis when she started elementary school. Alexis is 8-years-old but has a rare genetic abnormality causing her to be the size of a 3-year-old. She’s also non-verbal.

“There’s so much horrific stuff happening in school,” said Ince. “Day after day kids like Alexis or other kids with disabilities or just average kids are being bullied. I’m afraid for her in the world.”

But as Alexis entered first grade at Pomaikai Elementary School on Maui, something astonishing began to happen. Her mother noticed one girl helping Alexis navigate school, and soon others joined in.

“This little peer group has gotten itself together on its own from the leadership of one first grader who rallied this group that is her friend support network that escorts her through her day, ” said Ince.

Parents and teachers noticed that before long a group of kids would line up and wait for Alexis in the morning.

“As soon as they see the car lining up they jump up and down and say Alexis is here, Alexis is here,” said Ince.

And because Alexis cant speak, the students and teachers set up another way for her to greet her peers. Every morning she puts a lei on her friends. Her mother says these acts of kindness from her peers have made all her progress possible.

“I think it gives people hope,” said Ince. “Hope that in the face of all these mass shootings and horrible things at school, kids don’t have to be that way.”