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Visions Unlimited Students Cheer SMART Decision

Students from the Farmington Hills school follow an issue that affects their lives and become advocates.

The happiest faces in Farmington city council chambers Monday night were those of five students from , a special education program for young adults with developmental and physical disabilities. 

Students grinned broadly as officials reversed their Jan. 17 decision to opt out of the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART) bus system. 

Despite learning about the meeting at 3 p.m., the students arrived at city hall in time for the 7 p.m. meeting. Students rely on SMART buses to provide transportation for field trips and programs that help them become more self-reliant. 

Principal Bonnie James and John Waterman, executive director of PEAC (Programs to Educate All Cyclists), which serves Visions students, accompanied the group to Farmington's Jan. 17 meeting and Farmington Hills council's Jan. 23 meeting as well.

James said each student wrote and delivered his or her own statement about the importance of SMART. They talked about the lessons they learned while riding the bus and how much they enjoyed visiting places like in downtown Farmington. 

"We always want to promote them to be independent, and this is the ultimate in independence," James said. 

After Monday's vote, students stayed until the meeting was adjourned, then walked up to the dais and shook hands with council members. 

"The students have learned a valuable lesson about community participation," James said.

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