JACKSON CENTER — The Jackson Center Schools chapter of FCCLA held their third annual homecoming event for their multiple handicapped students on Friday, Jan. 10.
“It started when they moved the multiple handicapped units to our building. The kids are always looking to see what our needs are, and they felt that that was a population that didn’t get to do as many things as the general population, and so they were trying to find ways to get them involved,” Jackson Center teacher and FCCLA Adviser Vicki Kipker said.
Trying to get the multiple handicapped students involved grew into a program at Jackson Center called “TGIF: Tigers Growing in Friendship.” Each multiple handicapped student is given a high school buddy they meet with once a month. The big event of the year that TGIF puts on is the multiple handicapped homecoming, inviting Anna and Botkins students to join the Jackson Center students.
“This year we were able to do a little bit nicer job because we received a Power Grant from the United Way, we were able to do a little bit more for the kids,” Kipker said. “It’s awesome, it makes you cry.”
In addition to the Power Grant helping make this year’s homecoming bigger and better, Village Salon in Anna donated time to do every girl’s hair before the event, and Jenny’s Designs in Botkins donated flowers so that all students could have a corsage or boutonniere.
“We’ve had a lot of great support for it. Everyone just kind of chipped in,” Kipker said.
Last year, the FFCLA did a project that involved doing monthly projects with the multiple handicapped students at the school. The students wanted to continue the homecoming event from previous years.
“It was something really special to them,” Kieran Yarkosky, a sophomore at Jackson Center, said. “I know last year at our school, before we started our project, there weren’t many kids who would talk to them. But bringing in our buddy system, and having people come and talk to them really opened them up in our school. They always have something good to say, they’re always happy.”
“With the general education students, a lot of them like coming to this homecoming, rather than our own homecoming, because you just get to dance how you want and just be you, because they don’t judge you at all,” freshman Carleigh Ross said.
“It’s just really touching. It shows how much you can change someone’s life,” sophomore Morgan Kipker said. “I think just by doing this project and involving them, we’ve brought in more students to our multiple handicapped unit, because the parents see that. I think ours is doubled this year from last year, so we’ve gotten more kids.”
Reach the writer at 937-538-4825.