gmhTODAY 13 gmhToday March April 2017 - Page 79

Special Needs Kids to Kick Up Their Heels Linda Estill (left) hopes to bring together special needs kids from Santa Clara and San Benito Counties for a memorable evening of fun and dancing. Linda Estill has made it her mission to ensure that our special needs teens get to experience the joy of a prom. W hile waiting for my hairdresser last summer, I ran across an article about the mother of an autistic son who was saddened by the fact that he wouldn’t be able to participate in one of life’s premiere mile- stones: attending a prom. So Joy Cameron took it upon herself to organize a prom specifically designed for special needs individuals, and over the past four years it has become a huge success. This was the inspiration for my project. If you would like more information and details about this, I would encourage you to visit Ms. Cameron’s Facebook page, Shine Prom, where you’ll find video clips, photos and stories. My eight-year-old grandson has high functioning autism, thus I have a personal connection to and empathy for students, as well as adults, with certain disabilities. I would like to bring to South Santa Clara and San Benito Counties what Joy Cameron brought to Boise, Idaho, and organize a sensory-friendly prom, possibly combined with a graduation celebration, specifically designed for the special needs high school students in our area. Students with disabilities are sometimes self- conscious and reluctant to attend events such as traditional proms and dances with the general school population. The Shining Star Prom is designed so that everyone has an exciting, FUN and memorable evening where no one will be uncomfortable. The first Shining Star Prom will be held on May 13, 2017 in Gilroy, CA. We are in the process of requesting grants from a few local charitable orga- nizations. But there is no guarantee that we will receive these. We need funds for facility fees, rental equipment, invita- tions, food, a disc jockey, decorations, a photo booth, a photographer and videographer, souvenirs —all the things necessary to make this event a success. Let’s do what it takes to create an evening that will provide lasting memories for all those involved. Any amount you can contribute will go a long way and will be greatly appreciated! WHAT YOU CAN DO Of course we need funding: you or your company can be a sponsor. Maybe you would like to sponsor the photo booth, caterer, the decorations, souvenirs, trans- portation, or flowers. Or you can donate any amount of money to help defray the costs. Anything you can contribute would be greatly appreciated. Every little bit helps. You can donate through our GoFundMe site: gofundme.com/Shining- Star-Prom, or contact Linda Estill, festive@garlic.com (408) 848-5092. Announcing the first annual Shining Star Prom on May 13th, 2017 at Christopher High School, a sensory-friendly event specifically designed for special needs high school students in Morgan Hill, Gilroy, San Juan Bautista and Hollister. Students with disabilities are sometimes self-conscious and reluctant to attend events such as traditional proms and dances with the general school population. Consequently they miss out on these important milestones. The Shining Star Prom is designed so that everyone has an exciting, FUN and memorable evening where no one will be uncomfortable. Let’s join together to show the special kids in our communities that they are all shining stars and give them a very special night to remember! GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN MARCH/APRIL 2017 gmhtoday.com 79