NFL veteran and philanthropist Whitney Mercilus is once again giving back to HISD students by expanding his WithMerci Foundation’s life-skills program to Thomas Middle School.
The program aims to teach children of all abilities essential skills to increase their independence.
“We are not just giving children with special needs the skills they need to function through everyday life, but we are preparing productive citizens for the real world,” said Mercilus.
The WithMerci Foundation launched the life-skills program last spring at Fleming Middle School with cooking classes and a $20,000 remodel of their classroom kitchen.
This time around, Thomas Middle School’s Special Education classrooms are undergoing upgrades, including a “zen zone” for students with sensory needs. It includes a sensory wall with textured tactile objects students can touch and calming colors for regulating mood.
Principal Dimitrie Rainey expressed gratitude that Thomas Middle School was selected for the program.
“Not many people choose Thomas, but I want to thank you because we are on the RISE, and we have so many wonderful things, so many wonderful students, so many wonderful programs taking place here at Thomas,” she said.
While the “zen zone” and library upgrades were unveiled, the other Special Education classrooms are still undergoing renovations.