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Meet the Mass. 2nd grader creating works of art for sale

WCVB Boston logo WCVB Boston 6/10/2021
a person preparing food in a kitchen: bryson rec © WCVB bryson rec

Bryson Rec, a second grader from Danvers, sells hand-decorated shells he makes at Parcels gift shop in the Liberty Tree Mall.

His mother said the crafting started on a family trip. Lauren Rec said her son has autism and sensory sensitivities so he is sometimes uncomfortable outside.

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"We went to Florida and the first day that we were there, he said, 'Okay, I'm staying in the house,'” Rec said.

She said it took some encouragement to get him to the beach.

"The real hook was looking for shark teeth, sand dollars and seashells," she said. "Then, when we got back to the house, Bryson would use Sharpie markers, he would, you know, do different things to decorate the shells. Then we kind of came upon this idea together. Let's make them more beautiful."

On a whim, Rec said she reached out to Parcels about selling the shells. The store is run by Northeast Arc. The nonprofit offers all kinds of services to people with different abilities.

Tim Brown is the organization’s director of innovation and strategy.

"People with disability and autism have the highest rate of unemployment or underemployment across the country,” Brown said. “By developing the store, we are purchasing items that are directly impacting people's pay."

Brown said every product in Parcels is made by or sold through companies owned by people with disabilities or autism. He said the store also offers on-the-job training for Northeast Arc students.

"We'll work with people on the soup to nuts of what goes into retail and customer service,” Brown said.

Rec estimates about 75 of her son’s shells have been sold at the store. She said he’s earned enough money to buy himself two "Spider-Man" costumes that he now wears all the time.

"I think that gave him like the strength of a superhero,” She said. “(He) can conquer this fear of being outside.”

She said he now wears the costumes when he goes looking for shells on North Shore beaches.

Brown said any profit made at Parcels goes back into running the store and that the hope is one day revenue will grow enough to help fund Northeast Arc programs.

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