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Eighth grader’s project goes to bat for special needs at Royster

Posted Date: 03/01/2021

A FCCLA project by Royster Middle School eighth grader Jaydin Clounch earned her a trip to state and generated a $3,000 grant to help carry out the project’s goals.

Clounch, a member of (Family, Career and Community Leaders of America), talked with her teacher and FCCLA advisor Sheila Foster about wanting to help the special education students at her school. She said she knows the students get to compete at Special Olympics every year, but she wanted them to have more than the opportunity to compete.

They’ve never had uniforms, she said. They just go and compete.walking the hallways together at rms

Clounch wanted to provide uniforms “just to make them feel more included and more like a team, not just themselves,” she said.

Foster contacted Special Olympics and found there were grant funds for inclusion projects. Clounch then worked with her teacher to turn her goals into a Chapter Service Project for FCCLA.

“We got $3,000 to buy uniforms and equipment,” Clounch said. “The equipment is to practice before they compete and the uniforms are for when they compete so they look like a team.”

As part of her project, Clounch wants to have an inclusion spirit week at the middle school, with different activities planned for each day. There is a pledge banner provided by the state that Foster and Clounch want to invite all the students to sign, and there are plans for a virtual dunk tank to raise funds for Special Olympics, a portion of which would be donated back to the school to help the local program.

“This month we’re doing a step challenge (FCCLA and RMS special education students) and walking around the school,” Clounch said.

A lot of planning, brainstorming and communication has gone into this project, Foster said. Making this happen in the middle of a pandemic has meant working through and overcoming a number of hurdles, social distancing for one, while still meeting the requirements for the service project. 

“She’s had to learn to communicate and persevere and that ties into leadership, one of the goals of FCCLA, building future leaders,” Foster said.

Typically, Clounch would have made a display board to show everything that went into the project. This year, with COVID, she’s created a digital portfolio which is a better method of presenting her content that will be judged March 29-31 via Zoom.

In the meantime, she’s designed uniforms for the Royster Special Olympics team members that will include reversible shirts like a sports jersey, shorts, sweatpants and sweatshirts.

Clounch said she’s always cared about “special education kids. My mom works with special education at the elementary school and she said it’s a lot of fun.”

Her project conveys that.

The goals and realization of this project has let people see “who she really is,” Foster added.

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