i've had the honor of being a part of hot spring's junior auxiliary for a few years now. very generally, j.a. is an organization whose goal is to make garland county a better place for kids. one of the coolest events of the year is j.a. fun day, when 175 to 200 special education students attend an excitement-packed day at the may family's farm in malvern. the day begins with the boy scout's flag ceremony, and continues with horse back rides, a petting zoo, a fishing pond, tree swings, train rides, face painting & story telling with true native american flair.
one of my favorite moments is when the kids spill off the bright yellow buses in the morning sun, eyes and smiles wide, ready for a magical day. my friend harmony described her son's first fun day experience like this:
"My son, Shafer, is non-verbal and non-mobile and is in the second grade at First Step School. Spring 2008 was Shafer's first opportunity to attend JA Fun Day...
At JA Fun Day Shafer's class is treated to a fun filled day of activities and games geared toward them and their abilities. These kids, who all too often have to observe other children from the sidelines, are the center of attention and fully participatory in all the fun. It may sound simple to you, but for children with disablities, life is full of watching other kids enjoying themselves and participating in childhood activities.
JA Fun Day is a day that Shafer and his fellow students get to be "regular" kids, have a "regular" day and participate in "regular" activities - somthing that irregularly happens to kids like Shafer.
....For those that attend for the first time it is truly a day full of firsts. JA Fun Day 2008 was Shafer's first time to go fishing, first time to ride a horse, first time to take part in a relay race, and first time to ride in a kid-sized train! Most of all , JA Fun Day was the first day of nothing but fun for the children in attendence. You may never know how much this one day means for the participants, but I can tell you first hand that it is the most special day of the year for Shafer and his classmates."
Thanks for letting me borrow your words, Harm. No one could have said it better.