An evening of sharing that emphasized the similarities in people and helped to create a better understanding of the differences was sponsored by the Monument Park Third Ward, Salt Lake Foothill Stake, last November. Several weeks of planning and preparation resulted in a lively carnival and dance for 65 handicapped persons from the Salt Lake Work Activity Center.
The youth leaders of the priest and Laurel groups, Tom Green and Kay Nilson, visited the center to get acquainted with the adults and to gain some insight into what they could and could not do. After that, Tom and Kay reported to the ward Young Men-Young Women committee their observations and ideas. Then plans were made, committees were formed, and in addition, each Mutual class was given responsibility to plan and construct one carnival booth.
The night of the party, the cultural hall took on a festive, carnival atmosphere, with brightly colored, hand-lettered signs announcing the events. A long line soon formed at the bowling area, as everyone seemed to want to try his hand at knocking down the pins. The relay race consisted of participants, many of them in wheelchairs, throwing footballs through suspended hoops. Other events included a beanbag toss, fish pond, tennis ball toss, and a beauty parlor. Another popular booth was the hammer-and-nail drive where participants hammered a nail into a wooden plank. The highlight of the evening, however, was the dance. The young people earned the money to pay for a live band by making the desserts for an elders quorum party. Once the music started, everyone joined in the dancing, including those in wheelchairs, who were assisted by the young people.
A rewarding part of the evening was to see the excitement the handicapped persons exhibited when they won a prize, the pride they felt at being successful. Nancy Straider, the adviser from the center who accompanied them, said, “This has been such a wonderful experience for them! Some who are really reluctant to participate and who are usually afraid of strangers are getting involved tonight and having a great time.”
Each young person was assigned to be a special companion to one of the guests, and they really took the assignment seriously, seeing that their guests had an enjoyable time. By the time the last booth was taken down and the final cup of punch finished, all agreed it had been an evening of sharing that will be long remembered by those who participated.