Champions for Children with Disabilities
Fun Times Video Transcript
NARRATOR: It doesn't matter whether it's a movie, grabbing a burger at the mall, or just hanging out with friends. Getting together for fun is important in the lives of most teens. How else are you going to chill out after a long week of hitting the books or find out about that new CD? If not with a friend, who are you going to talk about
the concern over a school assignment, or share your relief when it goes well?
Fun Times are all about the feeling of belonging, of being part of the world. For many high school students with disabilities, however, fun times with friends are rare. The weekend may find them alone, wondering if life is passing them by.
In Minnesota, a group of teenagers is doing something about that. They've started a new project that includes people with all abilities in their fun times, and they call it just that. Fun Times.
Win Bennett, whose sister Mara has William's syndrome, and a couple close friends initiated the project.
WIN: I look at my sister Mara, and she is this incredibly funny, warm and outgoing person. She smiles and she tells great stories, and the ironic thing is she spends a lot of time at home entertaining herself on the weekends. I wondered what it would be like for somebody who wouldn't be as social or comfortable with their peers. They might be a little more shy and we had this great idea of Fun Times. It isn't a solution, but it's a start. This idea that kids could just go out and be kids, regardless of their ability or disability and the truth is we had no idea how to start this, what we were going to do. So, we came to PACER Center.
NARRATOR: The staff of PACER Center, a national parent
center, understands that young adults with disabilities often lack the
opportunity to socialize with friends outside of school. Fun Times addresses the
issue. In addition, Fun Times fits with the main thrust of a parent center
mission: to expand opportunities and enhance the quality of life for children
and young adults with disabilities and their families.
With planning by Wynn and his friends, PACER staff, and families of teens with disabilities, Fun Times was launched in the summer of 2003. What kinds of things have they been doing? Pretty much the things that teens do: bowling, movies, baseball game, a trip to the mall. The results have surpassed all expectations
FATHER OF CHILD WITH DISABILITY: As parents of a child with a disability, we really appreciate the opportunity our son Eric has to get out with his peers.
MOTHER OF CHILD WITH DISABILITY: Since Eric's in a wheelchair, he just can't get picked up by his buddies like a lot of his other friends do, so this allows him that opportunity to get out with his peers and, as he puts it, he gets to get out without his parents..
NARRATOR: Student volunteers like the idea of broadening their horizons by meeting new people.
FUN TIMES VOLUNTEER: I always look forward to the events. They're always a lot of fun and it's just hanging out with friends.
FUN TIMES VOLUNTEER: Fun Times has given me an opportunity to hang out with people I might not get to hang out with on a regular basis in a very fun and enjoyable atmosphere.
NARRATOR: The students with disabilities are delighted to participate in a welcoming setting that encourages them to make new friends.
FUN TIMES PARTICIPANT: Well, I like hanging out with people. I like going places. I like talking. I like making new friends.
NARRATOR: All in all, the Fun Times Project has been a win-win situation.
WINN: The truth of it is, it's a wonderful thing. We're just kids going out and being kids having fun. It's incredible. I'd love it if all the kids around the country would do the same thing.
For more information contact:
The Technical Assistance ALLIANCE for Parent Centers
Writer/Producer: Patricia Bill, PACER Center
Director/Editor: Evan Johnson, Ellida Productions
Paula F. Goldberg, Executive Director, PACER Center
Mary Schrock, Director of Development
Susan Shimota, Fun Times Coordinator
Mall of America
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Copyright 2005, PACER Center