Ms. Hightower is a high school teacher from Cedarville, Arkansas. “I value teaching service and philanthropy because I think is important for students to understand and value the needs of others,” she said. “It is also important that my students understand that they can have a positive impact on others and their community.” 

After using the resource Disability Awareness, Ms. Hightower’s students had a better understanding of the challenges faced by people with disabilities. This motivated her students to find a project that would help kids that face the challenges of living with a disability.  

A small group of 12th graders contacted a children's therapist at TheraPlay Pediatrics and asked how they could be of service. After meeting with the representative, students worked to create a weighted sensory blanket that they later coined the "Tinker Quilt".  

Students 3D printed specific items for the quilt that are designed for kids with sensory issues and fine motor development needs. They partnered with a local quilter, who volunteered her time to make the weighted quilt and attached the 3D printed items. The sensory blanket was given to a specific child with sensory issues, fine motor development issues, and autism. This child was specifically chosen by the therapist as the child who would benefit the most from the sensory blanket. 

This project was entirely student led. The kids planned the project idea, scheduled a meeting and met with their community partners, and saw the project to competition. “This project has given my students a greater awareness and empathy for the needs of others, especially those with a disability,” reflected Ms. Hightower. Academically, the students learned the importance of soft skills like leadership, communication, and problem solving. 

One student said, “This project has meant a lot to us. We didn't realize the specific needs and challenges that kids face.” Another said, “It felt really great to make a difference and to show our community that high school students have the ability to do good and make a difference. We hope to continue to do future projects that make a difference in the lives of others.” 

The Learning to Give mini-grant provided students with the opportunity to see first-hand how their actions can have a positive impact on others.