By ARIANNA SCAVONE
Jericho Connection, a club initiated by Jericho students five years ago, is a tremendous success and a favorite club amongst students and participants. The club aims to facilitate socialization in kids with special needs through arts and crafts events, all without a dollar from the school.
In 2011, Jonathan S., Allison B. and Ben K. presented their idea to the Board of Education and were denied funding for their potential club. However, Jericho High School Art teacher, Ms. Gilfedder was warmed by the students’ aspirations and decided to advise this club despite the lack of funding. The group started to hold monthly arts and crafts workshops for special needs children, and over the years developed a safe and comfortable social environment for them. Participants range in age from 4 to 16, and look forward to spending time at Jericho Connection events. “I really like it. It’s fun working with all of the kids and doing all the projects. It’s so much fun,” participant Alyssa W. said. Roughly 45 participants attend each workshop according to Ms. Gilfedder. Co president Lindsey S. said, “The kids who we’ve had since I was in 9th grade, so four years now, keep coming back. I’ve definitely formed relationships with a lot of the participants.”
Volunteers, especially officers, contribute to funding for art supplies for Jericho Connection workshops. Parents of members occasionally donate as well. “In terms of receiving school funding, I’m not so sure how this would play out. My main concern would be if it became an actual Jericho club, people would be signing up simply to obtain their volunteer hours; I really like how humanistic our club is right now,” said Ms. Gilfedder. Jericho Connection currently obtains their art materials through volunteer and parent donations, however all participants are able to create and take home whichever projects they choose. Volunteer since 2013 Marissa B. believes that the club has become more organized, increasingly rewarding and has been able to touch the children on a more personal and individualized level due to the influx of volunteers and materials.
Jericho Connection workshops are held once a month on weekends. The club welcomes new members and volunteers to participate. For more information about club meetings and workshops contact Lgilfedder@jerichoschools.org.
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