PHOENIX — A local school district here is providing small stuffed animals to its special-needs passengers to offer them extra comfort during stressful situations.
Washington Elementary School District #6 serves Phoenix and Glendale, Ariz., and transports more than 1,100 students with special needs to and from school every day. While most days are uneventful, a change in routine, a new driver or another incident that’s out of the ordinary can be upsetting for these students.
Finding a way to comfort special-needs students in such situations became a mission for Antonio “Tony” Mlynek, the district’s transportation supervisor for special education, and several Walmart stores in the state assisted him.
“I asked the store managers to help us obtain small stuffed animals that a child could cuddle for comfort,” Mlynek explained, “and three stores readily stepped up. Walmart store 1417 in Prescott, and stores 5190 and 2512 — both in north Phoenix — donated a total of $250 to assist with the purchase of stuffed animals.”
He went on to say that the district is grateful for Walmart’s generosity and support of the project, and it also appreciates the support of members of the transportation department who made the project a priority.
“A special thank you goes to Tracy Hertzog, a family member of two transportation employees, who has assisted with collecting stuffed animals,” Mlynek added. “I would also like to thank Glenn Teille, a transportation employee, and his son Sean Plaum, who is active in the Boys Scouts of America and has chosen to collect stuffed animals for his Eagle Award Project.”