A few years ago, the Stillwater Public Library began working with several parents who have adult children with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDDs). We began meeting with the parents, Parks and Rec, some of the organizations serving this population and some of the individuals to figure out how to provide additional educational and social opportunities for them. The result was Roundup Stillwater, which includes a book club, a weekly theater class, seasonal dances and several summer activities.
Working with this group is one of the most fulfilling things I have done while at the library. When many of us were in school, students with special needs were off in another part of the school and we rarely interacted. What I didn’t realize is that the students often missed important events that most students enjoy, like Prom. One thing I hear consistently from many people who are over thirty in our group, is how much they regret not getting to participate in this rite of passage.
This year, we were incredibly excited to have the United Way contact us about organizing a formal dance for the group. Groups like Mpower, Stillwater Group Homes, Community Access, Parks and Rec, along with the library and several parents are working with United Way to give our group members the kind of experience that we got to have in school---a “Night Under the Stars.” This formal event will take place in March, with a DJ, dancing, dance contests, college student escorts, crafts and hopefully carriage rides.
This week, one of my closest friends from the group, Shaila Yearout, is working with me to raise funds for the dance. She made posters about the dance and she is contacting businesses to go and talk about the event and why they should sponsor it. I asked Shaila why the dance is important to her.
“I am so excited about this dance because we can meet new friends, have fun and there’ll be food. I want my friends to have fun, get out in the community and have a chance to feel the freedom you feel when you get to dance. We all are different in so many ways, but we have a voice and we have a dream.”
If you would like to make a donation for the dance, we would love to have you join us in making this experience happen. If you are a business considering making a local donation in the community this year, please let me know so that we can make an appointment to come by and tell you about the dance and the benefits of sponsoring it.
The individuals in the group will be the ones making up the fundraising artwork, calling businesses for appointments and giving the fundraising speeches. It is an excellent opportunity for them to boost their self-confidence, practice public speaking, learn about self-advocacy, and yes, even how to accept rejection professionally.
A United Methodist Church group will be accepting the donations, so checks should be made out to “FUMC - Sowers Class” with “Spring Gala” in the memo line, but the donations can be dropped off at the Stillwater Public Library Help Desk or the United Way at 109 E 9th Ave, whichever is convenient. You will receive a tax donation receipt from the FUMC Sowers Class.
Shaila would like you to know that she thanks you and would like for you to have a nice day! For more information, please contact me at (405) 372-3633 x8124 or firstname.lastname@example.org.