(Note: Dixie Aubrey has a special needs grandson.)
A minor miracle happened in Statesboro last week.
A large group of teenagers had a dance, and as far as I could tell, no secret drinking took place, no one cared what anyone else was wearing, no one was laughed at or humiliated by others, and your ability to dance didn't matter at all, as long as you were on the dance floor moving to the music.
This unusual event was an old-fashioned "sock hop" at Snella's out on Highway 301 North. It was sponsored by Parent to Parent, an advocacy agency for parents of children with disabilities. The walls of Snella's recreation hall were decorated with huge cardboard cutouts of cars and milkshakes, and the tables held 45-rpm records and festive, cotton-ball sundaes. As the high school students entered the hall, they were greeted by volunteers who pinned yellow carnations to the students' shirts and dresses.
Some of the teens dressed in prom attire while others wore T-shirts and jeans. Some could walk and dance very well, while others boogied in walkers and wheelchairs.
From the DJ's first song, Miley Cyrus' "Party in the USA," everyone hit the dance floor, moving to the music, laughing, grooving, talking with friends and having a great time. At one point, I turned to Don Garrick, my grandson Jordan's teacher, and said, "If somebody wants to see diversity, here it is." He smiled in agreement.
We saw 4-year-old siblings, grandmothers, parents, teachers, and about two dozen special education majors from Georgia Southern University's College of Education, who stayed on the dance floor the whole evening and seemed to have a terrific time. Students from Bulloch and surrounding counties participated in the event co-sponsored by 16 area agencies and businesses. No one was excluded.
The kids I danced with seemed relaxed and at home with their peers and guests. While some may have been concerned about what to wear or how to dance, once they all got together their worries dissolved into the ear-blasting pop and rap songs blaring from the Do Good DJs' loudspeakers.
Toward the end of the night, it occurred to me how sorry I felt for the "other" teens. An experience like this would be next to impossible. The angst, fear and humiliation that most adolescents go through on a daily basis about clothes, acceptance, and who likes or dislikes whom makes me sad for them.
Their role models to a healthier way of life are right there in their own schools, if only the other teens would take the time to notice.
Special thanks: Snella's Place donated the building, Shane's Rib Shack donated all the food, Marsha Hagan Photography donated all the pictures for the kids, Do Good DJs donated all the entertainment, Coca Cola donated drinks, Southern Cruisers brought a 1934 Ford and the Student Council for Exceptional Kids from Georgia Southern brought plenty of volunteers.