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STAR program to meet Thursday

A new program for children with adults and special needs is gaining momentum in Franklin County, and a meeting set for tomorrow is designed to increase interest and participation and inform the community – particularly decision-makers – about the importance of such a program in this area.

Kim Adams is heading the program, dubbed STAR – Special needs Therapeutic Activities and Recreation. It will be run through the Russellville Parks and Recreation Department but be open to those with special needs from anywhere, throughout Franklin County and beyond.

Adams was driven to start the group because of her granddaughter Makynzie, who faces mental and physical challenges because of a genetic condition called Phelan-McDermid Syndrome. She wants to give all children – as well as teenagers, young adults and even adults – the same opportunities as their peers without special needs.

An Aug. 4 meeting at the Parks and Recreation Center, set for 6 p.m., is open to anyone who is interested in the program – including families that are dealing with special needs and those who are interested in volunteering to help or donate financially.

“We are specifically asking for all candidates, anybody running for office, to come Thursday, so they can meet these families,” Adams said. She said she hopes anyone running for office, at the city or county level, will attend to support and learn more about the importance of this program for local youth.

“This is a very sports-oriented area. We’re going to give them a safe place so they can interact,” Adams said. “I am a big dreamer, and I have a big dream. I want to make this area the No. 1 special needs area – not only here, but in the whole state and in the whole tri-state area. I want people to come from everywhere to come here.”

Adams emphasized that STAR is a program for everyone.

“This is not a black, white or Hispanic issue. This is an issue that touches every race, every gender and every age,” Adams said. “And just because you’re not disabled at 30, you could be disabled by 31. It’s just something a lot of people need to think about.”

Presently interest has been expressed for people of special needs from ages 4-31.

“I think anything geared toward helping kids with special needs is really good. They are kids, just like any other kid,” said Parks and Rec Director Chad Sears. “It will be a chance for kids with special needs to get out and participate in a non-threatening environment.”

Adams thanked Sears for his backing. “Without him, we wouldn’t have this,” she said.

Sears began working with Adams to develop some sort of program at the beginning of the summer, when granddaughter Makynzie first expressed interest in playing T-Ball.

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