Meaghan Haugh

Joe “C.” holds up his mint green flip-flop frame that he labored on for an hour and smiles. Joe “R.” laughs his way through the Cha-Cha Slide.  Rider University’s Student Chapter of Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) Welcome to Paradise spring dance was an experience of a lifetime for 20 Rider students and 24 of their community peers. The dance was held on April 17.

The CEC is the largest international professional organization supporting the education of children with special needs. Rider’s Student Council for Exceptional Children is an organization that has been growing more active on campus, running affairs like the Welcome to Paradise dance in the spring and fall.

“Our students run the whole event. We are very proud of them and their connection to children with disabilities in the community, said faculty co-adviser Dr. Michele Kamens. “It is a wonderful experience for our guests and our Rider students.”

Rider Student CEC co-presidents Elizabeth Sterling and Melissa Grinkevich said events like this allow Rider students to extend what they learned in their field placement experiences throughout the Rider Teacher Education program and provide further opportunity to help develop social skills for kids with special learning needs.

“This event gives us the opportunity to get to know the kids outside the classroom,” said Christina Ferinde, CEC president-elect. “This is a time for us to socialize, make friends and have the kids make friends with us.”

Rider students planned the event filled with arts and crafts, Luau style music and games. 

“We relate our school work back to the experiences we plan here,” Grinkevich said. “The games we play, like Bingo and hands-on crafts help the kids with their motor skills.”

The Rider University Student CEC and President-Elect Ferinde are looking to expand their membership to other parts of the Rider community. Any Rider student interested in learning more about CEC and joining should contact the School of Education or Dr. Michele Kamens at [email protected].