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Lowe : Kid Kits is more than just about building

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01/05/2018 | 10:23 pm

SEABROOK - Small projects are having a big impact at a local school as little hands build models that offer a sense of accomplishment and a constructive way to share their feelings with a school administrator.

Arriving at Seabrook Elementary School this summer, Assistant Principal Mark Dangora thought "Kid Kits" could benefit students at Seabrook Elementary School. The father of three, Dangora enjoyed a number of Saturday mornings at his local home improvement store with his own children, spending time with them one-on-one building the models the stores provided.

"Once a month or so, Home Depot and Lowe's had family hour at their stores, and I used to go with my children when they were 8 and 10 years old," Dangora said. "My kids really liked building the kits. We had a great time."

The experience got Dangora thinking that what was a positive experience for his own children could also work for students.

"I thought it would be so cool to do these kits with kids as a reward," he said, "or even with those students who are struggling."

Contacting Seabrook's Home Depot and Lowe's home improvement stores, Dangora was able to secure the donation of what he calls "Kid Kits," from the stores, along with the tools needed to put them together.

"They were so accommodating," Dangora said of both retailers. "They were so nice, so kind. We really appreciate their generosity."

Lowe's donated their "Build and Grow Kits, and Home Depot their "Kids Workshop Kits," along with the hammers and other tools needed to make them. Today, thanks to both retailers, the closet in Dangora's office is filled to overflowing with about 400 kits with the makings of miniature fire boats, trucks, flower pots and picture frames. There's enough to last for years, he said.

Once the news got out at SES, Dangora said building one of the kits with him in his small office became a sought-after activity for many. He often fields questions from kids who ask: "Can I build a kit with you today?"

Building a kit with Dangora isn't a way to get out of going to class, he said. He might spend a total of 15 to 20 minutes at a time working on a kit with a child, and it may take more than one session. And often he schedules the activities towards the end of the school day.

The answer can't always be "yes," he said. Dangora has to check his own schedule and with teachers to see what's on the docket for students that day. But there are times when the circumstances are right.

"We'll sit together and look at the directions," he said. "Organize the supplies. It's a process not a free for all. We sometimes use the Kid Kits as a reward, say if a student's behavior has improved."

The kits are a way to reinforce the school's core values of kindness, respect and responsibility, he said.

"And sometimes, the kits can be a project we use to calm a student down if there's been a problem," he said.

If a student is struggling, building the kits can provide the opportunity for Dangora to work quietly with a child without the usual angst that "going to the assistant principal's office" presents. The result can be that Dangora gains insight into what's behind a youngster's behavior or anxiety.

Also on the plus side, these little kits improve fine motor skills, offering a meaningful hand activity, Dangora said. And when completed, the child realizes the benefits of paying attention and following directions, two valuable school and life skills.

"The kits help them develop patience and they can see what the end result is," he said. "When the kits are done, students gain a sense of self confidence. The finished product is something they can be proud of."

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