What teen doesn’t like a night out to get together with friends? What kid doesn’t like to dance and sing lyrics to Justin Bieber? Now children with special needs don’t have to feel left out when their school peers are active and busy on weekends.
Zach’s Place held it first holiday dance. Nineteen kids, three volunteers and 10 staff made for an exciting evening. A decorated room filled with lights and loud music made everyone in the mood to dance. Young ladies were dressed up and young men with their break dancing gear. The volunteers attending were from the Disability Awareness Group at Colorado College.
Zach’s Place, located at 741 Cache La Poudre, is a program of Special Kids Special Families, providing support services to families raising children with disabilities. Program Director, Renae Isakson, and Assistant Director, Megan Demers, began Friday night social nights a year ago with only four kids in attendance. The turnout has increased at a phenomenal rate – to over 25 youth attending each month! These special nights are what many youth look forward to, as well as their parents. While kids are having a night out, parents are getting a break to have time as a couple, or just spend time with other family members.
Social nights include “Girl’s Night Out”, where the young ladies dress up, paint their nails, style hair and makeup and watch “girly” movies. Another night is “Teen Night” where the youth will go out for pizza, swim, play miniature golf, and watch movies. “Fun Nights” include pajama parties, board games, a luau, and camping. Each month has a theme, centered around a holiday, and groups are supervised by staff according to the needs of the youth. The next Friday night event is Caroling Night on December 16th where kids will sing to a group at The Medallion, a retirement center in the area. The kids will socialize, pass out goodie bags and head back to the center for pizza and hot chocolate. They’ll work on some crafts and watch a holiday movie to close the evening.
Local businesses have stepped up to sponsor these social nights and donate their services to assist in making these special evenings happen. Kids can be seen eating pizza at Boriello Brothers and Leon Gessi, playing Glow Golf at the Citadel Mall, or eating cheesecake at Broadway Deli.
Jacob, a 12 year old youth who just started attending the Friday night events, surprised his mother after the holiday dance. Ann, Jacob’s mother, said “the day after the dance, Jacob came up to me and said, “Do you want to dance, Mom?” He pulled me into another room, put on music and started to dance. He has never asked me to dance before. It was so much fun!”
Zach’s Place is a non-profit organization that has been providing help to families through respite care, child care, and social skills training since 1999. The ages of children served are 5-21 years. Some of the diagnoses that the center works with are autism, cerebral palsy, seizure disorders, intellectual challenges, hearing impaired, and downs syndrome. For more information about Zach’s Place and social nights, contact Renae Isakson at (719) 329-1717. If you are interested in donating, sponsoring a social event, or volunteering at Zach’s Place, please contact Patty Brookes at (719) 447-8983 Ext 20. For more information about Special Kids Special Families, visit us online at www.sksfcolorado.org.