DELL RAPIDS, S.D. (KELO) — A group of Dell Rapids high school students gathered over the weekend for a ‘sensory friendly’ prom. Over 20 students attended — some of them who have special needs.
The idea came just over a month ago after some of the kids didn’t feel comfortable attending the regular high school prom. Parents, community members and businesses came together to make sure the students could have the same experience, in their own way.
It was the full prom experience including a limo, pictures, food, grand march and dance to cap it all off. A group of moms and other community members, including Nichole North, made sure the night was one to remember.
“We had a quite a few kids in our district, while they wanted to attend the big prom, but it was just too much due to anxiety and sensory issues,” North said.
A group named “SQUAD” that consists of kids with disabilities and some without, often do activities together in Dell Rapids. North says some members of that group came to help out.
“The big prom is overwhelming. There are a lot of people there. It’s loud. That gets pretty overwhelming for the kids even though they want to go, so this prom worked really nice because we were able to incorporate it all together,” North said.
Pinz bowling’s new owner, Casey McCoy, says being able to host the Vegas themed event meant everything to him.
“No matter what your background is, what you look like, what you sound like, this is a place for everybody. And so I think having that experience downstairs, having those kids down there and seeing what it meant not just to them, but to their parents and to the people that love and care for them and have watched them grow up, it just really kind of solidifies the fact that I did the right thing. I made the right choice buying this place,” McCoy said.
Dylan Heidelberger and Juliet Braam were prom dates.
“I got my dress and Dylan sat aside with me and got my corsage,” Braam said.
“It was fun. We rode in the limo and went to Sioux Falls to take pictures at the Hotel on Phillips,” Heidelberger said.
North’s son Adam was also there.
“I like to dance,” he said.
While the night was special for the prom-goers, it also meant a lot to their parents.
“We don’t get to see how our kids interact with the other kids at school and hear about their days as much. They just don’t tell you things and they’re not able to express, so to see how they interact with the kids is really special. And I think the highlight of my night is when Adam came to me and started to dance with me, and I didn’t have to beg him, so that was really cool,” North said.
They also want to thank all the local businesses and others in the community and beyond who helped, donated money and raffle prizes.
There are talks of doing the sensory friendly prom again next year and possibly opening it up to more small communities in the area.