Mother Of Autistic Son Creates Nightclub For Adults With Special Needs
Many of us likely take for granted the existence of safe, public spaces we can gather with friends. Things like coffee shops, restaurants, theaters, malls, and the like aren’t accessible to everybody for various reasons. If you can’t get to one or more of these places, it can be a major roadblock when it comes to meeting people and making friends.
Thankfully, there are people out there noticing this fact and seeing the injustice in it. In an effort to create a safe place for everyone to gather—no matter their access or needs—some selfless advocates are helping communities in need have fun and make meaningful connections.
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Basic Human Desires
One thing we’re all entitled to is fun in our lives. Maybe you prefer solitary activities like reading or crafting, or perhaps you’d rather hit the town with friends and enjoy a nice lunch or some dancing. No matter the activity, if it brings you happiness, it should be of the utmost importance.
Unfortunately, not everybody can prioritize fun. Either they’re not able to due to a physical or mental restriction, they use too much of their energy just making it through the day, or maybe there are no adequate spaces for people like them to have any fun.
Help Has Arrived
A woman in Tuscon, Arizona saw one demographic actively deprived of fun, social outings in her area and sought to fix that.
Crisann Black is the founder of Club Zeus, which she calls a ‘special needs nightclub.’ On the second Saturday of every month, they host a party for “adults with special needs, their family & friends.”
She was inspired to create this space after thinking about the future of her youngest son Zeus (after whom the club is named) who is autistic.
While thinking about all the years ahead of him, she realized how few spaces there are specifically for those with special needs to gather and socialize.
“He’s my baby and I’m trying to remember that he’s growing and won’t always be a baby,” she told Good Morning America, “As I think about his future in terms of therapies or activities that he’s involved in, I want more activity to happen.”
So she took matters into her own hands and created a space she’d be excited to have Zeus attend when he’s older.
Her goal when making Club Zeus was to create a welcoming space for people who are more often ostracized from activities such as this.
“The idea is that we can have a nice, fun, safe, non-smoking environment where people of all backgrounds and demographics can come […] fill that void of separation,” she explained to AZCentral.
It’s been a major success so far. As Crissan tells it, “Everyone goes and feels like a rock star. […] They come in all their glory and they look stunning and it’s just incredible to see them and their confidence and everything just glows.”
Only Getting Bigger
The club has food and drink available to all guests, plus music, dancing, karaoke, and other games like cornhole. The event and all its amenities are funded or donated by Black herself and her community, though on their Twitter page, recent posters for upcoming events list organizations such as the All Abilities Learning Center and the Tierra Antigua Hope Foundation as working partners.
Club Zeus is also broadening its scope by hosting other events, such as a speed-dating evening taking place this Valentine’s Day season.
To Last A Lifetime
Crisann is hoping that not only will this space exist on its own for those with special needs to get out and have fun, but that the connections made there will extend beyond Club Zeus and foster lasting friendships.
“They can go to the movies or go out to eat and really just build their own friendships and relationships from this starting point,” she explained.
Club Zeus also provides a service for the parents of adult special needs children, providing them a space in which they can be sure their kid will be safe, in turn allowing them to relax as they won’t “have that fear” as Crissan puts it.
Inspired By True Events
That safety priority also came from Crisann’s own experiences with Zeus, seeing how he was treated by other families. “I do have to speak on his behalf and explain to people, hey he has a disability, he doesn’t mean any harm. And sometimes we get really great responses where families are like ‘oh you know what that makes total sense let’s let them continue to play’ and then other times families will remove their child and then he’s kind of left alone to deal with it.”
She then thought, “I have to create a place for him where I’m not going to have to keep explaining myself to people or constantly apologize for what he’s doing.” She wanted to make a fun place where the fear of rejection or isolation is nonexistent.
Growing In Popularity
Club Zeus isn’t the first of its kind either. In Baltimore, there is Club 1111, a club for disabled adults created by the League for People with Disabilities, which sees hundreds of people coming to party also on the second Saturday of every month.
In Palm Beach, Club K recently opened, another club for people above the age of 19 with special needs. Club K was created by the iCare program, and simulates a full nightclub experience with a bouncer, wristbands, and a night full of dancing.
A Real Super-Mom
While the other two events are hosted by organizations, Club Zeus was started by Crisann alone, creating an amazing impact on her local community and all having been inspired by her son.
“Being [Zeus’] advocate is one of the greatest things I can be,” she said, “Being his mom is great, but being there to really defend and support him is probably the best thing.”
Given the success that Club Zeus has already had, there’s no doubt that Crisann’s initiative and desire to help others has already changed a number of lives for the better.
The Lasting Impact Of Important Work
Being able to see a group in need and workshop ways to help them is already a beautiful skill to have, and demonstrates a selfless, generous attitude. Doing so not for whatever attention it might bring your way, but out of a genuine desire to help others only amplifies these qualities in a person—all of which Crisann demonstrates.
She’s a true role model and someone whose outlook on life we can only hope becomes more and more common. There are plenty of disenfranchised groups who need champions like her to forge a safer, more accepting future, even if that safety is in the form of a once-a-month event. That sort of thing inspires hope in a person like nothing else, and leaving hope in your wake is the best type of legacy to have.
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Dan is a content writer with three years of experience under their belt, having mostly covered viral media but now shifting toward spirituality and astrology. He’s a strong believer in using one’s beliefs as a means of self-improvement and being in touch with whatever messages the universe has to offer.
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