Wyckoff YMCA Formal Celebrates 21 Years of Special Needs Programming

The Shining Star Express Program recently celebrated its 21st birthday in style.

The following was submitted to Patch by the Wyckoff YMCA.

The Wyckoff Family YMCA’s Shining Star Express program for Special Needs recently celebrated 21 years of serving this population by hosting a ”formal” for its group participants.

The Y’s “New Year’s Social” was attended by 70 special young adults who donned dresses, tuxedos and bow ties while enjoying a buffet dinner, DJ, and dance party. 

“The significance of giving these young people their own ‘special moment’ is a vital component of the outreach of the Y,” said Nina Reisman, Shining Star Program Director.  

“Most of these individuals have been with our program for 19-21 years. We have watched them grow up here at the Y, and we continue to strive to meet the educational, social and wellness opportunities they need.”

Guests at the event included participants in the Y’s Shining Star Express Social Connection for Young Adults as well as participants in the Y’s “21 Plus” program, which is specifically designed for special needs individuals who have “aged out” of school.  

“Not all of our clients come to our programs on the same day,” stated Lori Pfeifer 21 Plus Director.  

“It was a wonderful opportunity for them to get together in the evening to socialize and dance together. We are so grateful that the Y recognizes and addresses the needs of the specially challenged population.”  

Also in attendance were members of Quest Autism Foundation (housed at the Wyckoff Y), and “Bridge Program” participants; young adults who live independently at Crescent Commons and Orchard Commons in Allendale.

“The beauty of these programs is that our members have evolved from living solitary lives to becoming active participants in a dynamic program,” stated Reisman. 

“The benefits extend far beyond the Y’s walls.  Because of the communal aspect to our initiatives, many of our young adults have formed lifelong friendships with each other and meet on a social basis independently throughout the week. These experiences encourage the individual’s self-confidence and result in positive interactions with mainstream society.”

For more information on the Y’s programs for special needs individuals, call the Y at 201-891-2081 or visit www.wyckoffymca.org.


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