When a child begins a new school year, their parents may be worried about how they’ll fit in—especially if they have a condition that makes them really stand out from the crowd.
Kids aren’t thought of as being particularly tolerant to outsiders—we’ve all had a mean playground nickname at some point in our childhoods, so fitting in is something everyone is concerned about.
But one group of kids is defying expectations with their kindness toward one unique classmate.
Alexis Kinzer, from Maui, Hawaii, is 8 years old—but you wouldn’t know that from looking at her.
She looks more like a 3-year-old—and that’s because she’s one of only 27 people in the world to be born with a rare genetic mutation in which she was born missing a chromosome.
The condition has caused her to be developmentally delayed. In addition to looking much younger than she is, the girl’s also non-verbal.
So when she started first grade at Pomaikai Elementary School this school year, her mother, Vanessa Ince, was concerned how her peers would treat her.
“Day after day kids maybe like Alexis or other kids with disabilities or just average kids are being bullied,” Ince told KITV recently.
“I’m afraid for her in the world.”
But instead, her daughter found a place where she belonged at school.
One of her classmates helped Alexis navigate the school.
Another first grader stepped up and took the initiative to help Alexis. Ince was thrilled when she saw the other student taking her daughter’s hand.
It was an inspiring act of kindness—one that spread throughout the school.
The girl’s kindness motivated other classmates to help Alexis, too.
Other students joined in with their own outpouring of support and friendliness.
“This little peer group has gotten itself together on its own of the leadership of this other first grader and has rallied this group that has been her friend support network that sort of escorts her through the course of her day,” Ince said.
The students line up to greet Alexis when she shows up at school.
Not only is Alexis not picked on at school as her mother feared, but she’s given a warm welcome every single morning.
“As soon as they see the car pulling up they’ll jump up and down and they’ll say ‘Alexis is here, Alexis is here,'” Ince said.
And while Alexis is non-verbal, she found a way to thank her new friends.
After her classmates greet her at the gate, she thanks them by putting a lei on them. It’s an inspiring gesture that shows that kids can make friends even with rare disorders.
Ince said the story alleviates her fears—not just about her own daughter fitting in at school, but about future generations of school students in light of all the darkness lately.
“I think it gives people hope,” Ince told KITV.
“Hope that in the face of all these mass shootings and all these horrible things at school, kids don’t have to be that way.”