The selfie mirror is a popular attraction at the Special Friends prom for special needs young adults from across the area hosted by Stillwater United Methodist Church. Pictured from left: Cassie Williams, Josh Orrill and Heidi Williams. CONTRIBUTED

Special-needs prom will be Feb. 9

Event at church takes momentum into its third year.

Young people with special needs are often relegated to being observers at special events. Well, on Feb. 9 young adults and teens with special needs from across the Miami Valley can be participants at the third Special Prom sponsored by Stillwater United Methodist Church.

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This year’s prom theme is Under the Sea.

Heidi Williams, a member of Stillwater church, last year’s prom chairman and a Clayton resident, said the first prom, three years ago, had approximately 30 students attend. “Last year we doubled that number,” she said. And this year, they’re expecting even more students.

Williams said the prom has become a community event. “We’ve received a phenomenal amount of donations from all around the community,” she said. From food to decorations to photography, Williams and the congregation views the donations as a blessing. “The Northmont community has absolutely poured blessings on this event,” she said. “It’s such a positive event.”

Prior to the prom, at 5 p.m., young ladies can come to the church and have their hair and nails done. “Our friends from Pinned Up Salon have donated their time,” said Williams. “It’s very important that the young ladies make an appointment for this service.” Registering for the prom and beauty services is done by email at prom@stillwaterumc.org.

A few years ago, Stillwater Church realized there was an untapped segment of their congregation needing extra care and attention. Several church members who are therapists and educators began a Special Friends ministry, which ensures that all families feel welcomed, loved and supported in a safe and supportive environment for special needs children and their families.

Williams said students are welcome to bring their parents to the prom. “And in fact, we have a special area for parents. We had a lot of families come last year to be photographed with their prom-goer,” she said.

From observing the past two years, Williams says the biggest hit with the kids is the music and dancing: “DJ Willie, who rocked the floor last year, is back. He’s wonderful and the kids love him.”

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And for students with physical limitations or in wheelchairs, the dancing is modified. “It doesn’t matter, they all get out on the floor and have so much fun,” Williams said.

The church provides training for volunteers who are chaperoning. All chaperones are background checked.

Contact this contributing writer at pgmcginnis45419@yahoo.com.

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