Emily Campi had a great time at her proms hosted by Archbishop Mitty High School.
“I had a ton of fun at my junior and senior proms,” says Campi, who will be entering Santa Clara University as a freshman in the fall. “I had fun dressing up and taking pictures and spending time with my friends.”
It occurred to Campi that individuals with special needs might have a less comfortable experience at a traditional high school prom with the flashing lights, loud music, and crowded space. So she is organizing “Summer Soiree,” a prom for teens with special needs that is tentatively scheduled for early September at a local venue to be determined.
“I think that prom is such a pivotal part of the high school experience,” Campi says. “I also think that a standard high school prom is not the most conducive environment to the needs of a person with disabilities.”
On Saturday, July 30 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Campi will be collecting donations for gently used and clean formal attire at the Santa Clara Central Park Library located at 2635 Homestead Road. The donated attire will be part of a boutique event where teens attending the prom could come out and “shop” for clothes.
“We’re collecting prom and party style dresses for the ladies, and ties and vests for the gentlemen,” Campi says. “Donations will be tax-deductible. I hope to collect at least 50 dry-cleaned dresses, and the same number for ties and vests.”
Campi, a Girl Scout ambassador, is organizing this prom event as a project for the Girl Scout Gold Award, a distinguished and prestigious award that requires 65 hours of service on the part of the applicant. According to Campi, the Gold Award is the equivalent of the Boy Scout Eagle Award.
“I’ve been a Girl Scout since kindergarten for 13 years, and through that, I’ve worked with people in many demographics,” Campi says. “That has given me an increased sense of awareness of the world around me and how I could make it a better place. I’ve worked with people living in poverty. I’ve worked with the elderly. I’ve worked with the disabled.”
Campi became aware of the issues individuals with special needs face on a daily basis while volunteering at a therapeutic horseback riding ranch called the B.O.K. Ranch in Woodside.
“Over there, I taught people how to ride horses as a means of therapy,” Campi says. “I worked with people with cerebral palsy and people in different ranges of the autism spectrum. I found it to be an incredible experience working with people who are special needs. The thing that really stuck for me at B.O.K. is allowing people who are special needs to feel like normal people. Because of my work with special needs people at the B.O.K. Ranch, I want to give high school students with disabilities a prom experience tailored to their needs.”
Campi is currently seeking a volunteer disk jockey. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about the prom for teens with special needs.