By Babee Garcia
On Sunday December 4th, The Recreation Center on Montclair State’s campus held its annual “Special Friends Day.” The yearly event invites special needs children from ages 5-21 and allows them to participate in a variety of sports, games, and activities. For the full four hours from 10am-2pm, volunteers and assigned buddies played a huge role in the occasion.
According to Gabby Raccosta, senior and Family Child Studies major, “Special Friends Day has been around for the past 10 years.”
This year’s “Special Friends Day” theme was Legos. Shown on the wall leading to the upstairs weight room was a large mural of the toy blocks. Upon arrival, each child was assigned with two buddies who were among the variety of volunteers that ranged from current students to alumni and Greek life members to Rec Board staff. The importance of each child having two individuals to accompany them was to ensure their safety and so everyone could enjoy the experience together.
The children with disabilities were able to explore and engage in a wide range of activities and crafts from creating a parachute to Sensory Eye Spy, a scavenger hunt through rice-filled boxes and randomly assorted items. The children also swam, played corn hole and basketball, and even went through a Lego car maze lead by Fraternity Omega Psi Phi.
President of Sorority Sigma Delta Phi, Nicole Kiefer, explained why her and her sisters took part in the “Special Friends Day” festivities. “Our sorority has been actively involved in this event every year. The majority of us are early childhood education majors. My sorority sisters and I enjoy giving back to the community and show these children what MSU has to offer. I also plan to work with kids in rough situations and would like to work in a juvenile detention center.”
With an inspiring atmosphere traveling through the Recreation Center, “Special Friends Day” brought a huge and diverse group of Montclair State students together for a great event.
“The most rewarding experience for me was when we saw the positive affect this had on the children and more importantly, their families. Not everyone will put time away on Sunday morning to do what we did and it’s nice to see how the parents react to it all,” said Theta Xi brother, James McChesney.