Special Needs Awareness Club has been a well known club at Leesville since its establishment four years ago, but its popularity goes beyond what its title may portray. SNAC at Leesville was formed with inspiration from Panther Creek High School’s special needs awareness club, and was created by students who wished to assist and familiarize themselves with diverse special needs students at Leesville.
Christine Killeia, a special programs instructor at Leesville and SNAC club advisor, said that SNAC is a great opportunity for students to become role models and increase their skills in a social sphere. “The whole purpose of SNAC is to give the intellectually disabled or students with differing abilities the opportunity to feel included in the school population,” said Killeia. For Killeia, SNAC provides students with special needs a safe place to expand their social circle and practice their social skills, while also remaining as a fun alternative to a regular classroom setting.
Although SNAC is for the benefit special needs kids, the club also provides benefits for its volunteers, whose numbers flourish each year. “[SNAC] allows [volunteers] to become familiar and comfortable with different student populations,” said Killeia.
Charlotte Goto, a sophomore at Leesville and a officer of SNAC club, said that for her, the club focuses on “building relationships and friendships with students who are less privileged than typical students at a high school.” For Goto, SNAC is one of the best parts of the Leesville High community. It not only gives her something to look forward to during the week, but the club is also rewarding. “Just being able to see those smiling faces and walking in hearing them say my name, it’s just really a rewarding experience,” said Goto.
Working with kids in SNAC help students realize that everyone is different and faces their own challenges. “It’s so important in this world to be accepting and kind to everyone despite what they look like, how they act, or what their physical or mental abilities might be, and I really think that’s what this club is all about,” said Goto.