Fort Myers student creates community closet that rewards good behavior

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Alyssa Wilson inside the Fort Myers Middle Academy Boutique she helped create. (WINK News)

A special surprise awaited students this week as they made their way into a brand new addition to the Fort Myers Middle Academy.

The writing on the wall says, “Inhale All Of Your Dreams,” and inside this boutique, students find happiness, sometimes in the form of a dress, or a purse or a pair of shoes.

Alyssa Wilson, a senior at Fort Myers High, gathers gently used items to create this community closet inside the Academy.

“To see all the kids come in and see their reaction, it’s a good feeling being around it.” said Wilson.

The 17-year-old worked with her family and Southwest Florida businesses, including Cape Coral Home Depot who built the shelving, to transform one room of the school into a student store.

“I thought this would be a great place to start it,” she said.

Her idea was inspired by the need she saw after Hurricane Irma.

“My high school, we actually, after Irma, we opened a club, opened a closet and it was mostly for donations or anybody who had lost things and needed, so they could come and get clothing or toiletries, anything they really needed,” said Wilson.

She reached out to Southwest Florida schools seeking to expand her reach, and on Wednesday the Fort Myers Middle Academy held a grand opening to reveal the new FMMA boutique she inspired.

Now, Wilson is excited to see the students “shop.”

“They come in and really, they can take whatever they want or need,” she said.

Fort Myers Middle school students awarded a ticket for good behavior can ‘shop’ at the new FMMA boutique and then wear their items on Friday when the school allows a non-uniform ‘dress down day’ (WINK News)

The cost of every item here is the same: one pink ticket. Teachers award students the slips for good behavior.

“We’re both teachers of the deaf and hard of hearing and our students not only earned a chance to come in and shop at the boutique, but they’re helping manage,” said Frankie Gablehouse with the deaf and hard of hearing teacher and PBIS committee.

Because Wilson believes students should focus on being good students and citizens.

“I just wanna see the kids be able to pick things that they like and everyone expresses themselves through their clothes,” said Wilson.

She says she hopes to see the closet expand to include more schools. Donations of gently used items are welcome at Fort Myers Middle Academy.

The School District of Lee County released the following statement regarding the boutique:

The FMMA boutique was established with the help of extraordinarily generous community members and business partners.  The FMMA former shop area has been transformed into a boutique which is a full fledged store complete with dressing rooms, sitting areas, and professionally painted wall murals.  Students who earn a non-uniform day on their PBIS WAVE card will shop at the boutique for items.    The FMMA boutique has a variety of casual and dress clothes, jewelry, shoes, purses, backpacks, belts, scarves.

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