Brittany Motis' work with special-needs kids has won her a special honor.

The Wantagh High School senior recently received the first citizenship award given by the Wantagh Supportive Education Parent Teacher Association (SEPTA), based on her efforts last year spearheading a play group for children with special needs.

The award recognizes students who have demonstrated "exceptional character by going above and beyond" to support the special-needs community, SEPTA officials said.

"It's important to give special-needs children an opportunity to learn social skills, and I saw there was a need for it in my community," said Motis, 17. Of winning the award, she said: "It made me feel so amazing."

To create the play group, Motis trained to work with special-needs kids and then herself trained 25 students at her school to work with eight special-needs children. The group met monthly, and activities ranged from playing with trains to encouraging youngsters to bring a toy of their own and share it with their peers.

"It is our hope that by celebrating the positive contributions these students have made to Wantagh, we can encourage other students to look to them as role models," said SEPTA co-president Kera McLoughlin.

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