HEWITT, Texas (FOX 44) – The Hewitt Public Library has started a program called STARS to help young adults with special needs.
STARS stands for support, together, advocacy, resources, and success. It gives people with special needs ages 18 and up the opportunity to meet others, learn skills, and transition into adulthood.
“We have a community out there that needs help,” program coordinator Traci Villa said.
Each month features a new activity. In October, there will be a spooky story time to help with public speaking skills, a cooking class in November, and this month was a karaoke and dance party which Kade Perry loved.
“I just want to encourage more people to come and dance and do karaoke with us, and I just want everybody having a lot of fun,” Perry said.
Ultimately, this program aims to direct them where to go once they get out of their school routine.
“A lot of kids, they’ve got to have a schedule,” Villa said. “They’ve got to know what they’re doing hour by hour. If not, then they feel lost.”
The young adults also meet with a police officer to show them there’s nothing to be afraid of if they do come in contact with law enforcement.
“They have to make sure that as some people have special needs, they need to handle it pretty good,” Perry said. “Like, for instance, like if they are sensitive to lights, they can turn off their lights or just somehow like dim them just a little bit.”
The program doesn’t just serve the young adult but also their caregiver, showing them resources and skills as well.
“Making that kind of connection for the parents is almost as important as providing that social outlet for the kids,” parent James Karney said.
Karney has a 24-year-old son on the autism spectrum and says a program like this is so important to the special needs community, and it gives them the social interaction they need.
“In particular our young adults, a lot of them, once they leave high school, they just kind of wander because of that,” Karney said. “That yellow bus doesn’t come to the house anymore.”
The Hewitt Public Library saw a need, then figured out what its role could be to support young adults with special needs.
“What makes libraries so beautiful is that we can connect to these resource professionals and serve as a middle man,” Library director Waynette Ditto said.
Sign up for Hewitt STARS Program here.