A Group Of Fifth-Graders Is Giving Up Recess Once A Week For An Incredibly Selfless Reason

Such a beautiful gesture.

For most elementary school students recess is the most important part of the day. But for a group of students at Mark Bills Middle School in Peoria, Illinois, there is something else they cherish more than running around on a playground: friendship.

Rhemy Elsey is like any fifth-grader, but there's one thing he doesn't have in common with his friends — he's been deaf since birth. 

In order to communicate, he relies on American Sign Language (ASL) and his interpreter, Tammy Arvin, who follows him around school.

"It's tough for a kid that has an interpreter," Arvin told news outlet WMBD.

Alyssa Paldo/Facebook
Alyssa Paldo/Facebook

Arvin told WMBD News that it's been difficult for Rhemy because he has trouble carrying on a conversation with his friends. Plus, it doesn't help that he has someone always following him around — a factor that could actually isolate him, rather than help him.

So, in an effort to be able to better communicate with Rhemy, his classmates decided to start an ASL club. Arvin, who leads the club in weekly meetings, told ABC News that in the few months since the club began, the kids have already learned a lot of the basics, including the signs for things they'd encounter at school or home.

In addition to learning ASL, students are also learning about deaf culture.

Alyssa Paldo/Facebook
Alyssa Paldo/Facebook

Rhemy told ABC News he was happy about what his classmates were doing because it showed they wanted to be just like him. 

Although the club has only existed for a few short months, Arvin said she has seen a lot of progress with not only the members of the club, but with Rhemy as well. 

She described Rhemy's conversations with his classmates as "more natural interactions" and has gotten comfortable enough to give most of his classmates a unique sign for their name, something that is common in deaf culture.

Watch WMBD's News report on Rhemy and his classmates.