Jefferson County special needs students dance and play the day away at Jingle Bell Rock

Christmas party for special needs students in JeffCo

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Christmas magic filled Corner High school in Dora Wednesday, as students and staffed worked to pull of a “Jingle Bell Rock.”

More than 120 Elementary school students with special needs from Center Point, Chalkville, Erwin Intermediate, Fultondale, Gardendale, Paine, Johnson and Warrior elementary schools came to the party.

It was coordinated by the JEFCOED Department of Exceptional Education Adapted Physical Education, but organizers say the students at Corner High really helped pull it off.

“The high school students did the majority of the work, it was fabulous, they did more than we ever could,” says Wanda Westbrook. She’s the Jefferson county schools adapted PE coordinator.

Westbrook along with Treva McDougal and other staff have been hosting a version of the Christmas gathering for special needs students in the county for years.

Students took part in a “Snowball fight,” Reindeer Races, crafts, and even had pictures with Santa before sitting down to a special hot dog lunch, donated by Tyson and Golden Flake, and then ending the day with the “Jingle Bell Rock Dance”

Westbook says it’s more than just a party.

“I love the fact they are learning while it looks like they are playing. They are learning better communication skills, social skills, practicing gross motor schools through obstacle course, and there is just so much going on that if you weren’t looking you weren’t realize,” says Westbrook. “Of course I just love to see everybody smile. When they sit in santa clauses lap and pose fo rhte picture it’s just a magic moment.”

Parents of students were invited to attend as well.

“It’s special that they get to see the world their child lives in apart from them, we of course encourage parent participation every step of the way,” says westbrook.

Sheree Krutch’s 7 year old daughter attended. She says it’s a memory she will treasure.

“It’s very surreal I love having field trips where we can go ride the bus with her,” says Krutch.

“My daughter is tube fed. She was born at 26 weeks. It means a lot, I can’t even express in words what it means to have her participate in something like this.”

The day makes an impact on both the attendees, and the hosts.

“It means a lot to the High school students too, in fact some of them will be so moved by the experience they will say they want to volunteer or even go into a career helping people with special needs,” says Westbrook.

A similar event will be held on Friday at Hueytown High School for students in the western part of the county.

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