Monday, September 25, 2023

CEC connects volunteers, local children 

The Council for Exceptional Children connects SUNY Plattsburgh students with children with intellectual disabilities in the community. The club is a student chapter of an international organization by the same name that is dedicated to advancing the success of children with exceptionalities.

Club President Daniella Micallef said the club’s goal is to spread awareness of children with disabilities and to engage students through volunteerism at Young Athletes program.

The Young Athletes Program started last semester and is a sport and play program through the Special Olympics for children 2-12.

Kristen Kavanagh, a sophomore childhood special education major and club treasurer, said the program shows the children participating that sports programs aren’t just for typically developing children.

“All of our volunteers have seen what all the kids with and without intellectual abilities can do,” Kavanagh said. “Everyone gets to play equitably.”

Members have been working to get more participants by advertising in elementary schools, pediatrician offices and contacting past participants from Plattsburgh and surrounding towns such as Peru and Beekman town.

The Young Athletes program takes place four times a semester in Memorial Hall. Student volunteers are trained through the Special Olympics to be certified.

“I love all the people I get to do it with and all the kids we’ve now met since we started,” Kavanagh said. “[Certification] takes about an hour, and then you’re certified for 3 years.”

The club also participates in the Polar Plunge and attends the annual New York State Council for Exceptional Children’s annual Conference.

During its meetings the members plan events, coordinate volunteers and bring in guest speakers. Last semester they had an art therapy professor.

“She came in and did an activity to show us how we can use art in our classrooms for kids who have a disability or special needs.” Kavanagh said.

The Council for Exceptional Children meets every other Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. in Sibley room 106.

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