SUMNER COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — It’s hard to not have your heart fill with joy upon meeting 17-year-old Jackson Hurt. The Station Camp High School student is non-verbal but now has a voice of his own thanks to a device he received through a grant sought by children nationwide.

“We sent several pictures and videos and I think that probably made them pick him because you can’t see him and not fall in love with him, he’s wonderful,” said Kristin Lazenby, a speech-language pathologist who works to address augmented and alternative communication for Sumner County Schools.

Jackson, who also goes by Jack, clapped and smiled as he tapped letters and words on the tablet, which then vocalized his responses.

“He’s not a student that you have to remind to take it places, he’ll just go on his own and grab it and take it,” said Ashley Wood, Jack’s teacher. “He is very intelligent and this device that he’s gotten we’re just able to get even more out of him than we were before.”

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That’s why they wanted him to have a device he can use in school and when he finishes high school. Lazenby works to provide functional communication to anyone who needs it in the school district. When students get older, she helps them access their insurance so they can get their own personal devices. In Jack’s case, the insurance company offered to pay about 30% of the cost for a device that runs from about $4,000 to $5,000.

“Honestly it just broke my heart because a lot of times insurance will pay but every once in a while it won’t and it hurt my heart to know that he wasn’t going to be able to get this important piece that he needs to be able to take with him when he leaves,” said Lazenby. “I wanted to do anything I could to try to make it possible for him to get that.”

That’s when she decided to apply for a grant through the Orange Effect Foundation.

“Required a lot of paperwork and background information about why he needed the particular communication device and why he needed the money to get one,” she recalled.

Jackson was among a handful of children picked out of the whole country to get a device funded so it’s his now and after high school. It’s called the NovaChat 8 Word Power 60 by Saltillo and it’s what’s best for Jack’s specific needs.

“He was able to get his communication device paid for and it’s his personal [device] so wherever he goes, whenever he ages out [of school] it goes with him,” said Lazenby. “It just has a lot of good word finding and prediction, the size is good for him as well.”

The device helps Jack with reading where he can work on assignments at school, but his family can also work with him at home. They can add information and program that into the device if something happened over the weekend.

“We want to make sure that he has all the words possible so if anything comes up whether he’s on the job site working or he’s home with his family that he has all the vocabulary that he could possibly need,” said Wood.

She said it’s giving him a voice he never had before.

“If he comes in and I can tell that he’s a little off I can say ‘Jackson, what’s going on, how do you feel today?’ and he’ll tell me ‘I feel sad or I feel happy,'” said Wood. “Maybe if he’s got a headache he’ll say his head hurts.”

It’s communication he can also use at a doctor’s office or when he’s on a job site.

“He knows that’s his way to tell people things and that’s special,” said Wood. “I think he’s made the connection of okay I have a voice now and that’s important because all of our kids have voices, it’s just we all communicate differently.”

Lazenby said she applies for one grant a year and has another student that she’s applying for this calendar year as well.