Sculptures link schools in Ellicott City, Korea

On June 12, Linwood Center in Ellicott City will host the unveiling of a new sculpture and plaque in honor of its budding relationship with the Daniel School in South Korea.

Introduced and facilitated by Yumi Hogan, Maryland's first lady, Linwood Center was chosen to take part in the relationship because of its long history of serving students with autism in the community, according to Peyton Plummer, development and communications coordinator.

"They chose us and brought the idea to us," Plummer said. "We were very honored. It was a good fit."

Both the Daniel School and Linwood Center serve students with disabilities. Linwood currently has 52 students, with 20 of those students in Linwood's residential program year-round. Students ages 5 to 21 receive a nonpublic special education program year-round, with week-long breaks, Plummer said. An adult program offers vocational training, residential support and job planning.

"Every individual we serve is on the [autism] spectrum," Plummer said.

By bringing the schools together, the goal is to widen their students' worlds, Plummer said.

"We hope to have a pen-pal relationship with them," Plummer said. "We might learn to do letters in Korean. We will go back and forth with Skype."

Students from Linwood also made concrete stepping stones to send to the students at the Daniel School.

To create a physical connection between the two schools, two identical statues were created.

Titled "Hyunsu's Butterfly," the 3- to 4-foot-tall statue depicts a young boy holding a butterfly. Designed by Thomas Clement and Wonsook Kim, it was inspired by the story of a young boy with disabilities from South Korea who was adopted by an American family, Plummer said.

"The first lady ... knew some artists," Plummer said. "Thomas was adopted from South Korea. He learned this story about the boy with disabilities and it resonated with him."

Once the statue was created, finding a place was needed. The Daniel School sent the school an article featuring a photo of their identical statue.

"It is very close to the entrance of our school," Plummer said, of the statue's placement. "We really wanted it to be a visible as possible."

The students, along with Yumi Hogan, than created a small garden around the statue with donations from Howard County Department of Recreation and Parks, Walnut Springs Nursery and the Hogan family.

"The first lady was really passionate about this," Plummer said. "She was on her hands and knees in that garden. It was amazing to be able to work with her."

Hogan's visits were always exciting, Plummer.

"The students have developed a real fondness for her," Plummer said. "It was a great opportunity for us."

The sculpture and garden plaque will be dedicated on June 12, at 10:30 a.m., at Linwood Center, 3421 Martha Bush Drive, Ellicott City.

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