Elk­ton High se­nior starts group for teens with spe­cial needs

Cecil Whig - - & - By JES­SICA IANNETTA

jian­netta@ce­cil­whig.com

— An Elk­ton High School se­nior has started a lo­cal chap­ter of Fan­tas­tic Friends, a non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion that gives teens with spe­cial needs the op­por­tu­nity to at­tend monthly so­cial events.

Ash­ley Sil­ver­man, 17, re-

ELK­TON

cently moved to the area from Voorhees, N.J., and started Fan­tas­tic Friends of North East Mary­land in Au­gust. Sil­ver­man par­tic­i­pated in Fan­tas­tic Friends while liv­ing in New Jer­sey along with her sis­ter, who has spe­cial needs, and her brother.

The or­ga­ni­za­tion holds monthly so­cial events that al­low those with spe­cial needs to so­cial­ize with each other as well as with vol­un­teer friends, Sil­ver­man said.

“I think it’s im­por­tant for (teens with spe­cial needs) to have a place to so­cial­ize in a non-judg­men­tal zone,” she said.

Sil­ver­man be­gan plan­ning to start the chap­ter shortly af­ter mov­ing to Elk­ton over the sum­mer and since then has been work­ing on com­plet­ing the nec­es­sary pa­per­work and spread­ing the word about the or­ga­ni­za­tion. Sil­ver­man hopes to hold the group’s first event in Novem­ber, which will likely con­sist of a pizza party with arts and crafts.

Fu­ture events might in­clude bowl­ing or pic­nics, Sil­ver­man added.

Ev­ery­one with spe­cial needs who at­tends will be paired up with a buddy who stays with them through­out the event, Sil­ver­man said. From her pre­vi­ous ex­pe­ri­ence with Fan­tas­tic Friends, Sil­ver­man said she has seen the dif­fer­ence the or­ga­ni­za­tion has made not only for her sis­ter and oth­ers with spe­cial needs, but in her own life as well.

“It’s made me a bet­ter per- son,” she said. “It’s good to give back to peo­ple.”

While the group has no for­mal mem­ber­ship, those look­ing to get in­volved or at­tend fu­ture events can con­tact Sil­ver­man at fan­tas­ticfriend­snemd@gmail.com or 609233-7584 or fol­low the Fan­tas­tic Friends of North East Mary­land Face­book page.

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF ASH­LEY SIL­VER­MAN

Mem­bers of the South Jer­sey chap­ter of Fan­tas­tic Friends pose for a photo. Af­ter be­ing in­volved with the group there, Ash­ley Sil­ver­man has started a chap­ter of the or­ga­ni­za­tion in Ce­cil County.

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