A Blacklight Dance Party. Cupcake Wars. Square Dancing. Mad Science. These are just some of the wide variety of themes offered by our Connecting Exceptional People Socials, a joint effort between William Jeanes Memorial Library and Parks and Recreation.
Connecting Exceptional People (CEP) first started around 4 years ago as a safe space for young adults with special needs to hang out and have fun on a Friday night. Fast forward to the end of 2019, and the monthly socials regularly have 20-25 participants, plus family members and caregivers, travel from several surrounding counties to attend the program.
CEP, which is graciously funded by a grant through CCRES, occurs on the third Friday of every month from 6-9pm at the Library and is open to those 16+. The Library closes to the general public at 5pm, which means that participants know that they will be in a safe space with their friends. Each month’s program has a different theme. For our November 15th social, we hosted local food sculptors Marie Pelton and Jim Victor. Marie and Jim, who use butter and chocolate to sculpt their creations, showcased some of their work and guided the participants through a fun candy sculpting activity.
The participants who attend CEP all have a wide arrange of needs, talents, and abilities. No matter what, all participants end up having a great time at the socials, and we are able to adapt any activity for the participants.
In October, Philadelphia based improv group StoryUp! led everyone through story-writing activities and even acted some of them out onstage with help from the participants. Afterwards, a CEP participant who recently went on a DNA journey to find her roots presented her findings to the group. Dressed in traditional African dress, she excitedly showed everyone on a map where her family originated in Cameroon.
For our next social on December 20th, we will be giving back to the community with CEP Gives Back. There will be a variety of projects, such as decorating bags for Meals on Wheels and making cat toys for the SPCA, where CEP participants will be able to help others in need during the holiday season.
Aside from the main event, there are other stations available for participants who might want a break from the crowd, such as coloring, board games, and a Wii set up with various games.
Due to CCRES’s generous grant, the socials are free and they are open to any young adult age 16+. The participants and their families are responsible for determining if a family member or aide should accompany them to the program. Interested in learning more? Contact Teen Librarian Sara Huff at firstname.lastname@example.org or 610-828-0441, ext. 113.