FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) — It is story time at Wilson Elementary and the pages are coming to life for a group of 1st graders.

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“I’ve seen a real change in the children, how they are just really inspired,” said Dorothy Gray, Chaplain Wilson Elementary School.

This year is Gray’s 3rd year reading and engaging with the children at Wilson. It’s part of Project Rise– a weekly program started by the Fresno Police Chaplaincy.

Each visit, Gray addresses a variety of topics ranging from empathy and sharing to peer pressure and bullying.

“They have a lot of situations that they’re going through and things that they want to share and things they want to talk about, and I try to encourage them that things are going to be okay. It’s gonna get better.”

“Ms. Gray is very kind and I love her because she teaches us about loving books,” said Luna Mendez, 1st grade.

This week’s story “The Teddy Bear” came with an appropriate souvenir and even better life lessons. In the story the young boy finds his lost teddy bear left on a park bench only to learn someone else has grown attached to it. In the spirit of sharing, he gives it back to the homeless man who found it.

“I love this story but I have to ask you a question– should the little boy have ran back to the old man without his parents? No,” said Gray.

Now in its fourth year, Project Rise is being used in 20 schools throughout Fresno Unified.

“It makes them become motivated and want to be that special and good friend,” said Perla Martinez, teacher.

Translating well into the lesson plan.

Martinez said, “After she’s gone we continue practicing and talking what she’s discussing with them in class.”

The Fresno Chaplaincy Program is always looking for volunteers. You can find out about those opportunities here.