Elena Harper, is aided by a classmate during their break time at Cherry Hill Elementary on Nov. 20, 2014. Elena has a condition known as optic nerve hypoplasia and has been blind since birth. On top of her blindness, Elena has also been diagnosed with mild autism, which causes her other senses to be hypersensitive.

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Elena looks up from eating her lunch after hearing a hello from a friend passing by. Every day, Elena eats her lunch with the assistance of her aide, Brenda Hulme at a mainstream elementary school. For Elena's mother, Kelley, having Elena going to a mainstream school was not a question. "It may take a little longer and she may have to do it a little differently, but she can (do it), and she will."  said Kelley. 

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During Mrs. Paige's kindergarden class, Elena learns to color through the use of coloring pages with raised edges were the outline are. Elena's aide, Brenda Hulme, helps Elena pick out colors for her work of art. 

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Tilitha Chiu (left) plays with her dress as Elena (right) feels the wall at their special needs dance class on Oct. 25, 2014 at The Dance Club in Orem. The two were waiting in line to practice leaps. Even after dance class is over, Elena can be found dancing around the family living room with her parents to the song "Let it Go" from the movie "Frozen" for a little extra practice time.

 

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When the other students practice writing lessons, Elena pulls out her braille writer and types out the same assignments. While the other students read, Hulme makes sure to retype the other students' literature in braille so Elena can read along.

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During recess, Elena plays on the slide at Cherry Hill Elementary. Despite her inability to see, Elena has memorized the layout of the playground and knows whereher favorite activities are located. 

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Before dance time in class, Elena's favorite time of the day, shereceives a helping hand from another student. "When the students dance in class, I used to hold her arms and move them along to the steps; now the other kids want to do it and help her," Hulme said. "They all take turns and it's so sweet."

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As the students exit the building, Elena has a guiding hand from Hulme to usher her around the running students. 

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During Elena's nightly reading sessions with her mother Kelley, Elena struggles over pronunciation of words in her favorite book, "Go Dog Go" by Dr. Seuss. Patiently, Kelly helps Elena, holding her hands over the braille words until she masters each one. 

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Kelley and Elena make pizza from scratch for dinner together. To make sure she learns about the ingredients, Kelley lets Elena taste each one before putting it on the dough. 

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Before her bedtime, Kelley holds Elena as they say their nightly prayers. "You know sometimes you don't realize something was missing until you have it," Kelley said. "I feel complete with her."

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