Looking to have fun and make a fundamental difference in people’s lives? Do you enjoy kar-aoke, basketball, volleyball, board games and working with individuals who have special needs?
Difference for the Development-ally Disabled (3D) is a community service program created by Brett Farson ’03 in fall 2001 to provide an opportunity for children and young people ages 10 and up with special needs to interact with the College’s students in a fun, safe environment. He modeled the program after Philips Andover’s “Athletics for Retarded Citizens.”
“I felt that something was missing when I got here,” Farson said. “I didn’t want to use the term ‘athletics’ because 3D does so much more than that and it’s really outdated to use the term ‘retarded.'”
The program has weekly meetings on Sunday evenings, in which over 50 students (AC Buddies) pack into the Alumni gym to be paired up with children or young adults with special needs (3D Buddies). “I pair the AC Buddies with 3D Buddies with matching interests,” said Farson. “It’s great because we have so many people with different talents in sports and music who help these individuals have a great time.” Many of Farson’s hockey team members, as well as other athletes, have joined 3D to help the community.
Last semester, 3D had special theme nights, including “favorite T-shirt night” and “Halloween night,” and hopes to add more this semester, including a Mardi Gras night and an Easter egg hunt. Farson hopes that these fun events will facilitate the development of lasting and meaningful friendships between the kids and the volunteers.
Why do people love 3D so much? “I love being with the kids,” said Kelly Potanka ’03, vice president of 3D. “It makes you realize how lucky you are, and you see how important it is to give back to people who aren’t as lucky. Plus, it’s really fun and all the kids just have a blast. Everyone enjoys themselves.”