Dancing, family, friends and food – it doesn’t get better than that for students of any age, or ability, as students from the Pathways program of the J. Arthur Trudeau Center experienced firsthand during its second annual Pathways Prom event held Friday evening at the Crowne Plaza in Warwick.
“Hollywood: A Night in the Spotlight” was the theme, and the event served as a chance for kids aged 14 to 22 involved in the Pathways program to experience the glitz and glamour of a prom that they may not otherwise get to enjoy with their friends and family.
“I think it gives them an opportunity to socialize and have fun and hang out with their peers and family in an environment that I think is welcoming,” said Alena Marcette, director of special education for the Pathways program, which provides services and support to kids of all ages with autism and other developmental disabilities. “They typically wouldn't have this opportunity in a traditional setting.”
Students dressed in their red carpet best, with glittering dresses and fancy bow ties galore, some took to the dance floor and others simply enjoyed a night out with their family and chaperones, taking professional photos with a golden backdrop and enjoying the Crowne’s catering.
Pathways operates out of the Trudeau Center, a nonprofit organization that for over 50 years has provided services and training throughout Southeastern New England (operating in Rhode Island, Connecticut and Massachusetts) to enrich and advance the lives of kids and young adults who are diagnosed with autism and other developmental disabilities.
“We provide services to help individuals develop more independently successful lives,” Marcette said, adding that the goal is to work towards transitioning students back to their public schools. “We work closely with districts, families and other agencies to provide the support and services they need.”
Marcette said that the Pathways program is involved with about 26 different school districts in its area of influence, and about 34 students participated in the program’s second prom event.