Rosemary Caragher knew Nazareth Academy was on to something special last year when it decided to host a prom for teens with disabilities.
But she said she had no idea just how extraordinary it would be.
“It was the most magical night that ever could have happened,” said Caragher, the campus minister. “It was beyond my expectations.”
The school hopes to recapture that magic Saturday when it hosts its second annual Prom Night for Teens with Disabilities, hosted by Friends in Service and Partnership and Nazareth Student Council.
Nazareth will roll out the green carpet—in honor of St. Patrick’s Day—for about 50 guests, up by 10 from last year. Teens from throughout the community are invited, and while they’re welcome to bring a date, it’s not required.
Each teen will be assigned a Nazareth student escort to be a companion throughout the evening. Teachers, parents and administrators, as well as sisters from the neighboring Congregation of St. Joseph, will also be on hand to facilitate the festivities.
Community members donated most of the prom’s features, including boutonnieres and corsages, items for goodie bags and flyers advertising the dance.
“This is one of those things that touches so many people,” Caragher said. “I will come into work and get a note and a check from someone who read an article and wants to be a part of it.”
It’s a special night for parents of special needs teens, too. Nazareth hosts them in a hospitality room where they can mingle while watching a live photo stream of the prom. Many are grateful for the opportunity to network with other parents of children with disabilities, Caragher said.
The prom is part of a week of events at Nazareth promoting inclusion. Students can pledge to stop using the “R” word by signing a banner in the cafeteria and on Wednesday can buy bracelets and cupcakes supporting the movement.
While many of the teens who will attend the prom go to dances and other social events at their high schools, Caragher said the FISH Prom is particularly special because it’s just for them.
“They get one-on-one special care from someone who is just enjoying their company,” she said. “… It’s hard to put into words the magic that occurs when they’re dancing together and having so much fun.”
Prom Night for Teens with Disabilities is scheduled for 7-9 p.m. Saturday at Nazareth Academy, 1209 W. Ogden Ave., La Grange Park. It’s free and open to special needs teens throughout the community. For more information, email email@example.com or call Rosemary Caragher at 708-387-8520.
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