A special day: Eighth-annual Connie Lekas School summer carnival delights students with special needs

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Arm art: Andrea the face painter gave student Omar Opeh some arm art.
Whip it up: Mario Augustin swirls the cotton candy at the event.
Dancing King: Student Marlon Fordyce takes over the dance floor.
Fun and games: Assistant Principal Betricia Yarboi and Principal Antoinette Rose were all smiles.

Locals and families with kids with special needs had a blast last week at the Connie Lekas School-P811K eighth-annual Summer Carnival on Aug. 1.

The Sheepshead Bay school, which serves middle and high school students from across the borough, welcomed more than 250 people to the 2018 party at its Haring Street campus, offering carnival games and face painting, plus a water slide and a bouncy house, in addition to a wide variety of food and beverages.

But the highlight was the live deejay, who truly bonded with the kids and made the whole experience much more fun, according to principal Antoinette Rose.

“Many of our students are socially awkward through their disabilities, but many came out of their shells and were singing and socializing with the deejay in ways that they normally wouldn’t be able to do,” Rose said.

Local pols state Sen. Roxanne Persaud and Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein also turned out to show their support for the event, and the work the Connie Lekas School does year-round for its 350 special-needs students.

Rose created the annual block party in her first year as principal eight years ago, and she said that each year the event draws more people, and increases in value to everyone who participates, broadening the social experience of students who often lead isolating lives.

Having an annual social activity during summer vacation, when students don’t have the regular interaction they get during bthe school year, is also important, according to assistant principal Betricia Yarboi.

“The fact that students and their families can participate in a summer activity is great,” Yarboi said. “Some students are autistic, so they get the opportunity to also build their communication skills.”

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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