When an 18-year-old boy asks his mother to please help find a girlfriend, she’s honored by his trust.
For the parent of someone with a disability, the request is especially poignant — and difficult.
“The journey for young adults is challenging,” notes Stacie Curran. “It presents a painful lack of opportunity in our community.”
Curran — a longtime advocate for people with disabilities — ticks off questions:
- Where and how do adults with disabilities meet like-minded people, as friends, potential housemates, partners or lovers?
- Where can these adults find safe, fun, social opportunities for enjoyment of life?
- What about social media sites and apps? Can they be trusted?
Vulnerability and risk of exploitation often outweigh the dignity of risk enjoyed by typical adults, Curran says. Roadblocks fuel further isolation and loneliness.
She, Sharuna Mahesh and Kathryn Turley-Sonne realized there was a need to fill. Working with Westport’s Commission on People with Disabilities, and the Department of Human Services, they created Club 203: the town’s newest social opportunity.
“Neurodiverse adults need quality social interactions as they transition from structured education to more independent living,” Turley-Sonne explains.
She was taking her daughter to a vibrant social program in Manhattan. Turley-Sonne is excited to have a local, volunteer organization that offers “critical tools for interaction, relationship-building, arts, culture, healthy living, personal growth and community connections.”
A variety of organizations quickly embraced the concept. Club 203’s kickoff event is a dance party — complete with refreshments, gifts, giveaways and more — at MoCA Westport (September 7, 7:30 to 9 p.m.).
The monthly calendar is already filled, through June. Events, dates and sites include:
- Halloween party (October 19, Remarkable Theater)
- Gaming and pizza night (November 19, Toquet Hall)
- Holiday celebration (December 13, Wakeman Town Farm)
- Open gym (January 7, Westport Weston Family YMCA)
- Valentine’s gathering (February 2, Westport Country Playhouse)
- St. Patrick’s Day (March 16, The Porch @ Christie’s)
- Spring ahead with fitness (April 20, TAP Strength)
- Outing (May 18, Westport Parks & Recreation)
- Year-end event (June 15, Westport Library)
“Thank you, Westport, for being a town that responds to the needs of all residents,” Curran says.
All adults with disabilities are invited to “join the club.” Click here for more information on Club 203.
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