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DD Awareness Month kicks off with balloon launch

Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month got off to a soaring start Monday morning with a balloon launch at the Open Door School.

Each of the school’s nearly 70 students released a balloon with their first name and school address attached, in the hopes that whoever finds the balloon will respond.

“It’s just a way to get the students involved to let them know it’s all about them,” said Tim Nunnery, public relations and personnel director for the Lawrence County Board of Developmental Disabilities.

The students had excitedly awaited the launch.

“They’re very excited,” said Jim Robinson, adapted physical education teacher at the school. “They enjoy it each year. It’s good awareness.”

Student Kaiti Howell hoped that someone would find her balloon and write to her.

“You get to put your name in there and people find your name,” she said. “They come to us and they tell us they found our name.”

For Alicia Adkins, the best part of the balloon launch was watching them drift away into the sky.

“It looks like the clouds are full of colors,” Adkins said. “And when you let them go people find them.”

In the past, the school has received letters or phone calls from as far away as Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York from people who have found the balloons.

“When the people write back they love to find it on the map,” Principal Kendra Kelley said. Some of the older students’ classes even determine how many miles away the balloon traveled. “It’s just really good, it gets out the awareness.”

The theme for this year’s Awareness Month is “Just Like You.”

Nunnery said the idea is to involve the community in what the school does.

“It’s pretty much to involve the community and let them know we are a part of what they do,” Nunnery said. “There’s a lot of people here that are a part of their every day life.”

Besides the balloon launch, awareness month activities will include Dr. Seuss Day March 2 and a Social Studies Fair March 11, both at Open Door School.

The annual Chili Fest and Craft Show will be held at Dawson-Bryant High School March 20.

March Madness Basketball Balls will be in the Dawson-Bryant High School gym March 25.

The board is also hosting a food drive and eyeglasses collection at various locations throughout Lawrence County.