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Way to Go! Kristin Schuster, Deer Park

For the "Band-Aid" Project, students covered their mouths

For the "Band-Aid" Project, students covered their mouths and communicated only in writing. Organizer Kristin Schuster, an eighth-grader at Robert Frost Middle School, is shown here with speech teacher Stephanie O'Connell. Credit: Deer Park School District

A Deer Park eighth-grader has spread autism awareness using an unlikely item: Band-Aids.

Kristin Schuster, 14, recently spearheaded a first-ever “Band-Aid Project” at Robert Frost Middle School, in which nearly 150 students wore adhesive bandages across their mouths to prevent themselves from speaking for a school day.

To communicate, the students wrote their responses using small whiteboards or paper and pencil.

“My sister has autism and I’ve always wanted to do something to help bring more awareness,” Schuster said of her older sister, Megan. “It can be very hard for people with that disability to communicate.”

The project was documented by film students and edited into a 15-minute video that was shown during homerooms as part of the school’s first Autism Acceptance Day.

Schuster said she hopes to continue the program in the next school year at both Robert Frost and Deer Park High School.

“This project was a labor of love for so many of us, and Kristin made it easy,” Robert Frost speech teacher Stephanie O’Connell said. “She is truly a remarkable young woman.”

Schuster is a member of her school’s Writers Club, National Junior Honor Society and Friends of Frost, a group that pairs students with special education peers for socialization. She also participates in a district summer school program for special education students.

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