Four St. Joseph’s Academy students organized and hosted the third Justice for All Ball on the evening of January 11. The special evening for special-needs teenagers was held in the Mother Alice Hall Community Room on campus.
Seniors Shreya Reshamwala and Lucy Laville and juniors Brie Wilkins and Audrey Delaune coordinated the event with SJA’s pastoral care minister, Sister Chris Pologa. The inaugural ball was held in 2017 and was the result of SJA’s participation in the Community Builders for Peace Conference with sister school Nazareth Academy in LaGrange Park, Illinois. Conference participants made a year-long commitment to experience the call to community, peace, justice and reconciliation as part of the charism of the Congregation of St. Joseph. The Justice for All Ball was their culminating project.
This year’s event featured music, dancing, fun activities and refreshments.
“I wanted to be a part of this event because it is a way for us as students to give back to the community,” Laville said. “Most special-needs kids don’t get the opportunity to go school dances, and this was a way for them to get to experience a school dance. The dance was so much fun. I loved seeing all the kids dressed up, dancing and having a great time. I hope the kids who came had fun and look forward to this event for years to come.”
Delaune said her reason for being involved was personal. “I have a few friends and family members with special needs, and I knew this would be fun experience for them,” she said. “I loved seeing the smiles on their faces and how much fun they had with each other. They don’t usually have the chance to have dances at their own schools, so I am glad that the Justice for All Ball brought them happiness.”
Reshamwala said coordinating the event provided her with a new perspective. “I hope the guests had a wonderful time at the ball and got to experience of bit of what it's like to be an 'average' high schooler,” she said. “I now have a heightened awareness of the issues that affect the special-needs and disabled communities and want to support efforts to accommodate them.”
Wilkins said the evening provided special moments for the organizers and guests alike. “I enjoyed just being in the presence of many who were so pure of heart,” she said. “What made it a special evening was that the guests did not leave the same way they came. Some were uninterested, but once we made them feel welcome through dance and games, they lit up with true happiness. I hope that each guest took away from the night was that their inabilities are blessings and that their disabilities don't define them. They are so much more.”
Mindy Brodhead Averitt
Photos courtesy of Trinity Laudun