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Hudson -- More than 15 teens with special needs and nearly as many student volunteers enjoyed a Sunday afternoon of bowling, pizza and ice cream.
Hudson High School sophomore Andrew Schulman proposed the idea of a special needs bowling event for Jr. Leadership Hudson's "100 for Hudson" contest.
"They usually interact with adults, but this would allow special-education students to interact with kids their own age," Andrew said.
Jr. Leadership Hudson, a class project of the 2008-09 Leadership Hudson group, teaches high school students about government, business, economic development, philanthropy, health and human services, education, leadership and quality of life. Each class proposes a community project.
Andrew was among four finalists from Hudson High School and Western Reserve Academy who were given $100 each to develop proposals for improving Hudson.
The other three finalists have until May 9 to complete their projects, according to Chuck Wiedie, Hudson Economic Development Director and member of Leadership Hudson's 2008-09 class.
Andrew said he spent a restless night before the event April 14, hoping nothing would go wrong.
"It was harder than I thought," Andrew said. "There is so much in doing this. You think about all the bad stuff that could go wrong."
Andrew said he thought booking the bowling alley would be the hardest part, but Sto-Kent Lanes on Fishcreek Road gave him a discount. Papa John's Pizza in Hudson gave him a discount on pizza and was able to provide it on a Sunday morning. Hershey's in Hudson gave him free ice cream bars for dessert. The next obstacle was recruiting kids to bowl.
"I learned about Project Support, a terrific organization that does an unbelievable job of assisting and supporting the special education kids in Hudson High School," Andrew said. "I invited all of the people in that organization to come to the bowling party."
Jr. Leadership members Jenna Bouquot, Jackson Fitch and Abbey Griffith were his mentors, who encouraged and helped by contacting Rebecca Hutchinson of Project Support and getting the ice cream treats for the party, he said.
Although she's not a bowler, Jr. Leadership member Zoe Leciejewski of Western Reserve Academy said she thought Andrew's idea was great and enjoyed watching and helping the students out.
Andrew said he didn't know about Jr. Leadership Hudson until entering the contest but plans to apply next year.
"It's a great organization to help the community," he said.
High School employee Amy DeYoung said events like bowling helps special needs students to interact with their typical peers that they see at school.
"They don't always have a chance to interact," DeYoung said. "It helps make them feel like part of the high school and part of a group."
Leslie Knoblauch, mother of special needs student Nicole, said it was nice to have an informal get together.
"Nicole said, 'All my friends are here,'" Knoblauch said. "She can interact with her peers. It warms your heart."
Andrew said he learned more about being a leader and organizing a project.
"I figured out all of the logistics required to execute an event of this magnitude," Andrew said. "More importantly, I learned a lot about the special-education department of Hudson High School and the students in it."