One Lion Helps Fund Yoga Balls for Special Ed

Emerson Palazzo has donated her time and effort to collect money to buy yoga balls for the special ed department to use

Olivia Marbury, Staff Reporter

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     The pressure to fit in and find a passion or interest in high school is a lingering struggle for most, but sophomore Emerson Palazzo has not only found her calling but has made a huge impact on others through her yoga ball project for Special Education students.    

     “When I was in sixth grade, I had a really strong connection with some of the Special Ed students through Best Buddies,” Palazzo said. “I discovered an interest and had the opportunity to act on it, so my seventh-grade year I researched all about autism specifically and decided to start my project.”

     Yoga balls are used as therapy for kids with autism and are called “sensory toys.” It students to focus without making them sit still.

     “When I first started my project I asked the Special Education teacher what would be beneficial for her students,” Palazzo said. “She responded with yoga balls, so I raised the money and got started.”

     The process behind Emerson’s project is simple but requires donations.     

     “I usually sell t-shirts and receive donations from my church,” Palazzo said. “The Dallas Cowboys gave me a $6,000 grant, and with all of these donations I go to Academy and buy however many yoga balls I need. From there, I email principals and districts and finally distribute.”

     With her parent’s and community’s help, Palazzo’s project has rapidly grown across the DFW area.

     “At this point, I’ve donated to all of Frisco ISD and all of Richardson ISD,” Palazzo said. “Now, I’m donating to Plano schools, and I have donated to about half of them.”

     Although Emerson is busy with her yoga ball project, she still finds time for school with her A average and extracurriculars.

     “In school, I’m on the varsity basketball team, I’m an officer for Best Buddies, and I lead a Bible study during advisory on Wednesdays,” Palazzo said. “Outside of school, I’m a part of  the National Charity League, and I’m really involved in my church youth group.”

     Through her dedication and willingness to help others, Palazzo’s project hasn’t only helped the Special Ed students, but, has also inspired other students as well.

     “Emerson’s very kind-hearted and very energetic as well,” sophomore basketball player and teammate Julieta Ortiz said. “She’s so goofy! Every single morning in practice we’ll all be super tired and you’ll look at Emerson and she’s jumping up with joy! She’s an amazing person.”