Girl, 8, designs portable classroom after school she helped build for refugees burns down

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An 8-year-old girl who wants to make education accessible has created a pop-up classroom to send to refugees around the world. 

Paisley Elliott, from Grapevine, Texas, spent 18 months designing her SHINE boxes – 33-pound, portable classrooms that include six seats or 12 lap desks, shelves and a loom. 

The SHINE boxes will be piloted in Uganda later this month, according to her nonprofit, Paisleys Pals.

“They need more help than we do,” Paisley told SWNS. “We don’t have to build our homes; they have to work day and night just to build their own shelter.”

Paisley first learned about refugees when she was in preschool at the age of 4, according to SWNS. 

Paisley’s mom, Tali Jones, told the news agency: “She realized the kids that were her age had never really seen the inside of a school before, and she started to think, ‘Mom they have to go to school, or what does their future look like?'”

Paisley Elliott, 8. from Grapevine, Texas, created portable classrooms so that refugee children would be able to have access to school.

“I was a little bit shocked. I was proud as a mom but kind of surprised,” Jones added. “She came home from school and it was an immediate heart-wrenching moment for her and she wanted to help.”

In 2018, she asked neighbors for spare toiletries and first aid supplies and handed out 500 pounds of supplies she had gathered to refugees walking through Estadio Azteca in Mexico City, according to SWNS.

Elliott spent 18 months designing her SHINE boxes: 33-pound, portable classrooms that include six seats or 12 lap desks, shelves and a loom. 

Paisley also raised $20,000 with lemonade stands and corporate sponsorships so she could build a school at the Moira Refugee Camp in Lesvos, Greece, SWNS reported. 


However, the refugee camp and the school were destroyed in a fire in September 2018, which inspired Paisley to think outside the box to create a more mobile classroom that could be moved on short notice. 

The SHINE boxes were designed in partnership with Italian architect Paolo Cogliati, according to a GoFundMe page set up by Paisley. 

Elliott will bring 10 SHINE boxes to Uganda later this month.

The boxes don’t require any additional tools to put together. 

Paisley is currently trying to raise $25,000 to bring 10 SHINE boxes to Uganda as well as 10 “tool kits” with lesson plans, computers, solar-powered lamps and radios, SWNS reported. 


Paisley has even received official permission from the Prime Minister of Uganda, according to the news agency. 

The 4-inch x 24-inch x 18-inch SHINE Box classroom requires no tools to put together and all materials are sustainable.

“I want to change the world,” Paisley told SWNS. “I want to be park ranger and the president, and get the SHINE boxes everywhere.”

Jones added: “I’m definitely proud and I’m so hopeful for the future if our young generation is thinking so big and looking to make a positive impact in ways I would never think of as a child.”

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