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project smile

Project Smile:-)

Anthony is technically in 11th grade, but because of his significant disability, he is in a specialized program called “Project Smile”. Most of the kids in Project Smile are wheelchair dependent, non-verbal and have severe developmental disabilities. The classroom is at a typical high school, so there are some inclusion opportunities.

One neat program they have at this high school is that the regular education students can volunteer in the Project Smile classroom and actually get credit for volunteering. In addition to helping out in the class, the students have to write a paper about what they learned from Project Smile.

Here are some of the things the students wrote:

“I have learned so many different things, most of them are simple things that many people overlook in daily life.”

“I learned that having ‘support’ is a good thing and that everyone needs support.”

“Project Smile is an excellent program that gave me a positive outlook and made me realize how fortunate I am to be healthy.”

“Helping these kids gives you a great feeling of reward.”

“I gained much respect for all the people who make helping others their life.”

“When I first entered Smile, this was all new to me. I had never seen anything close like that before, but now it is all normal to me.”

“This program has made me see life differently through the kids eyes.”

“For every kid in the class a touch of them will stay in my heart forever. Because of them, I have become less judgmental and I will take that with me for the rest of my life.”

“The day I walked into the classroom, the screams I heard scared me enough to never want to come back. I never thought that those screams would mean just as much to me as words by the end of the year.”

“The students in Project Smile have changed my life in numerous ways and this has by far been the best experience of my life.”

“Going to Project Smile was a blast and I enjoyed every minute of it and would be sad when the bell rang for the next class.”

“The very important thing that I learned is that don’t judge a book by its cover, because you never know what is inside.”

“I will always remember the number 104 as a classroom that change my life; that changed my views of everything, that have truly made my senior year worthwhile”.

“The program taught me not to be selfish and to think of others.”

“From Anthony I learned that a smile really shows a lot and that it’s a pretty easy thing to give.”


Anthony’s Progress

Anthony continues to make wonderful progress! He no longer needs any pain medication and his incision is pretty much healed. One interesting problem that has come up, his reflux is much worse after the surgery. I assume this is because his posture is so different now or maybe his fundoplication loosened a bit. Fundoplication is a surgery he had years ago to prevent reflux.

Fundoplication: the part of the stomach that is closest to the entry of the esophagus (the fundus of the stomach) is gathered, wrapped, and sutured around the lower end of the esophagus and the lower esophageal sphincter. (The gathering and suturing of one tissue to another is called plication.) This procedure increases the pressure at the lower end of the esophagus and reduces acid reflux.

The surgeon said this problem is common after a spinal fusion. I will ask her more about it when Anthony has his follow-up appointment on November 2nd. In the meantime, he has been started on Zantac twice a day.

Yesterday, a bunch of Anthony’s teachers came to visit him! Anthony was so happy to see them all!