WATCH | The Social Scene is a club in New Jersey for young adults with special needs. For many members, in fact, it's the only opportunity they have to socialize. Take a glimpse inside.
Sisters Melissa Howard and Lauren Turiello created the club. The two developed an interest in helping those with disabilities after babysitting a girl with Down syndrome, who is now a member of their club.
"As they transition out of youth services they're not only losing their support in that school district but the friends they made along the way."
—Lauren Turiello, president of The Social Scene
The sisters say that if isolation is a crime, then socialization should be made a priority for all people. They created the club because they felt too many young adults with disabilities were abandoned after they graduated from the youth programs at their high school.
Along with social skills, the club offers life skills that advance independence, like shopping, cooking and gardening. They also have involved club members in community service projects.
Club members have been excited to celebrate their birthdays with new friends made at the club. For many it's their first birthday party ever celebrated with a group of friends. Before they'd only celebrated with close family members.
Giving back is part of the philosophy
By teaching its members to be part of community service projects, The Social Scene shows them that they can contribute to society rather act solely as recipients of services. The sisters also have a nonprofit called We Heart, Inc. Through that, they take donations to provide dance and movement classes for those with disabilities, and are also hoping to offer some scholarships to their club.
Want to find out more or help?
The sisters welcome any inquiries and are happy to help you start your own club if you want to bring the idea to your city. Contact them at TheSocialSceneClub.com.
Melissa is a licensed special education teacher with over 15 years of experience. Lauren was an executive at a health and human services agency that provides services to those with disabilities. Both also bring their many years of volunteer experience with children and adults with special needs.
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