April 6, 2014 at 8:45 PM
RANDOLPH, NJ- Throughout the community of Randolph, there are many kids with special needs who are nevertheless exceptional. Their educational growth and development needs are aided by a group called PEC (Parents of Exceptional Children). This group is full of dedicated parents who come together to assist children and each other, with the support of The Randolph PTO.
These kids, who sometimes less credit than they deserve, are amongst the most brilliant and kind minds that can be found in town.
On Thursday night, Mar. 27, a gathering took place for many of these children to meet and create friendships with one another. That alone is a big step, considering most are not afforded opportunities to have what may be considered a “regular” social life because of their special needs.
This event had one goal- to unite the parents and the kids of this group, thereby helping the kids to form bonds with others in similar circumstances. To say that it was a success is an understatement.
Walking into the room of the event, it was immediately evident the wide array of personalities that were present. Upon looking closer, what was also clearly evident was the lasting bonds the kids were creating with this new experience. Some of the activities included cupcake decorating, coloring, and board games. Whereas normally they might be doing activities like these alone, they were thrilled to do them with peers.
These are somewhat rare interactions and are precious to these kids, who can be much more social than people may think.
For example, this event gave 18-year-old twins, Tyler and Jordan a chance to have social interactions outside each other. Tyler and Jordan, who attend a private school in North Branch, are two of the sweetest people one can meet. They are selfless when it comes to taking care of each other, a perfect quality in making new friends. This event gave them the chance to do that, and they made the most of it. The evening also gave their mom, Linda Clark, a chance to create connections with other parents in town who have kids with homologous predicaments.
Clark explained, “All of these parents are compassionate, they just want the best care for the kids and look for (the) support to do so. There is an overwhelming kindness. Everyone wants to communicate with one another and share experiences because everyone is going through the same thing together.”
Another warm and memorable personality at this event was the unforgettable John David. The self-described "Celebrity of Randolph", is a health-conscious, witty 12-year-old with a heart of gold. This event gave John David the opportunity to connect with kids who have similar challenges while doing activities offered at the event.
John David's father, John De Oliveria, was one of the people that pushed for this event to take place in Randolph, after hearing about numerous events like it around the area. He sees firsthand what wonders events like these do for kids with special needs. Although this was the group’s first event, he understands the success of it and the potential that it has long term.
Olvieria stated, “People were happy because everyone had the common goal of getting their kids to interact. Seeing other people (that they would not be able to meet otherwise) throughout the community also makes connections and friendships.”
Overall, the event was deemed a huge success by all involved. The kids were able to make connections and create relationships, and the parents were able to connect as well. This event will surely be remembered, and looked to as a model when creating future gatherings for special needs children in Randolph.
If you have any questions regarding the organization or how to volunteer for a future event, please contact:
Steve Codignotto (PTO/PEC) : firstname.lastname@example.org
Dee Pokorny (PTO) at email@example.com.