There’s a buzz of excitement among our adults in the Transitional Work Service program. Friday night is ESO Prom! To give you a little back story, several months ago we were approached by “Project Prom,” whose mission is to provide gowns and tuxes to students in the area who otherwise might not be able to afford prom attire. She wondered if some of our students might be interested in participating. I immediately thought about our adults and our monthly ESO dances… although we have never had a prom, we could certainly explore the option!
Expanding Social Opportunities (ESO) is a BNI group that holds monthly dances for adults with disabilities, ages 18 and over, at local colleges. In addition to these adults, college students from each campus attend the dance and assist with planning the event. The dances are a wonderful opportunity for social inclusion and are always greatly anticipated by our adults, including Ryan!
In this age of being all-inclusive, some might say that a dance only for young adults with disabilities works against this philosophy. But I think back to Ryan’s high school Prom experiences. Yes, it was an “inclusive dance,” but little interaction actually occurred between Ryan and his typical classmates. Perhaps Ryan even knew this would be the case – he did not want to go to his high school prom, but I insisted he should. Conversely, he can’t wait for this Friday’s dance!
Even though I am 300% in support of inclusion, seeing the genuine excitement and joy among these adults makes me realize that there is still a place in our society for events like this, events where each attendee feels welcomed and free to be himself or herself. I asked some of our TWS adults why they were looking forward to going, and here is what they shared with me:
“I was born to be a dancer.”
“Because I am taking my girlfriend and get to be with my friends.”
“I get to go to a hotel for dinner!”
Unfortunately, I won’t be able to attend the Prom, as Ryan has told me it’s “off limits!” But I know it will be a great night for all!
PS: A huge THANK YOU to donors – Project Prom, Potratz Floral Shop, DJ Pat Martin, PHB Photography, and Ambassador Banquet and Conference Center!