For children born with Down syndrome, learning to write can be a frustrating experience. But a team of Mays students, in cooperation with the Down Syndrome Support Group of Bryan/College Station, is hoping to change that for one group of young students.

The Down Syndrome Support Group is hosting a class this spring, called “Handwriting Class for Special Needs,” for children with Down syndrome and other disabilities. Seven Mays freshmen in the innovative Transitions cornerstone course will mentor and teach as a part of the class, which offers a variety of learning techniques including songs, repetition of coloring and tracing, and playing with different shaped sticks.

“I don’t expect miracles, just little milestones to get one step closer on his handwriting skills,” says Christy Knight, president of the Down Syndrome Support Group and mother of a 3-year-old Colton. “As a mom, I want my child to have all opportunities in life. With this class he will get one-on-one attention working with fine motor skills to help with his writing. I know without the help from volunteers giving their time to work with our children these classes would not be possible.”

The team of Mays students, who call themselves “Uniting Hands,” are working with the support group as part of their class service project. They aren’t alone in their efforts this spring: more than a dozen teams from Director of Undergraduate Learning Tim O. Peterson’s second-semester freshman leadership course and from his Mays Fellows 2007 group have set out to affect change through student-led community service projects.

Though it’s part of the curriculum to “go out and do good in the world,” Peterson quickly reminds students that it’s their own initiative and their own will to make a difference that matters with these projects. “This has to be their project and something they care about, or it won’t make an impact,” Peterson says. “But they also get the chance to realize just how important it is to take the time as busy students and professionals to put the community’s needs first.”