Meridian Star

September 8, 2013

Scout inspires through action

The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN — After a long day of painting and repairing walls, Ryan Smith stood in front about a dozen other boy scouts Saturday afternoon to thank them for their help.

    After the short speech, the group converged on a cookie-cake that from all indications wouldn't last nearly as long as the work the young men did over the past several hours. It was a fitting end to a tough day but a day that showed what one young man could do when his passion was in a project, along with the help of his friends of course.

    "This is something I really feel strongly about," Smith says. "I know what these children are going through."

    Smith, a ninth grade student at West Lauderdale High School, has to deal with dyslexia. The project he chose as part of his drive to become an Eagle Scout is to remodel and refurbish the Illuminations Dyslexia Center underneath the Family Center of Pleasant Hill United Methodist Church in Zero. What used to be a daycare center was turned into a dyslexia center by Leta Palmiter last May.

    When Smith was in the third grade he was diagnosed with dyslexia. He says he couldn't read and at that young age he couldn't grasp what dyslexia was nor how exactly it was affecting him. His parents, Jeff and Rachel Smith, was able to get their son into the Mississippi College's Center for Dyslexia. For three years he attended the center and learned to cope with his condition.

    "I've read many books now," Ryan Smith says. "I just felt this would be a really good project for me because I'm living with this."

    Jeff Smith says his son still has his struggles but now he is armed with the knowledge to fight through the tough times. Jeff Smith says he is proud of what his son has accomplished and is supporting him through this Eagle Scout project.

    "Ryan has two more merit badges and this project to get through and then he will be qualified as an Eagle Scout," Jeff Smith says. "But there is a lot here still to be done."

    Supported by other members of Boy Scout Troop 16 from Collinsville, Ryan Smith has seen the interior of the center turned from a daycare into a comfortable, inviting center that won't intimidate the children. He says he want's the parents to be comfortable as well.

    "When we get through with the painting we are going to put furniture and plants in here," Ryan Smith says. "It is important to make everyone feel at home."