Fair Chance offers after-school activities for local students with special needs

New nonprofit operating at Cal High this summer, Del Amigo during regular school year

A new San Ramon Valley organization formed earlier this year is working to provide a variety of after-school enrichment activities for local teens and young adults with special needs.

The nonprofit Fair Chance for Special Needs Program, which celebrated its ceremonial ribbon-cutting last month at Del Amigo Continuation High School in Danville, was created to introduce San Ramon Valley residents with special needs to the same sort of life-enhancement activities that people without developmental delays often experience growing up, according to its founders.

"Realizing that there is a serious need for an after-school program for students with special needs, we formed The Fair Chance for Special Needs Program with the goal to provide opportunities to all students with special needs," co-founders Shirin Kamal and Diane Mazaroff said in a statement.

"We are trained professionals that identified a need and have met it by founding a program that will take the place of after-school sports, clubs and social groups that are not available to special needs children," added Kamal and Mazaroff, who each have experience in the special education field.

According to its mission statement, the organization's goal is: "To provide a safe, reliable, nurturing, quality after-school program for students and young adults with special needs, where they will continue to learn, grow, thrive, blossom, communicate, socialize and have fun beyond school hours."

Fair Chance, which is operating at California High School in San Ramon for the summer, is available to people with developmental delays between 14 and 22 years old during after-school hours weekdays. Cal High is where summer school sessions are being held for San Ramon Valley special education students.

The program serves teens and young adults with disorders ranging from autism, ADHD and Asperger syndrome to cognitive delays and emotional, learning and reading disabilities, the founders said.

"We provide an environment where those with different diagnosis are taken care of and taught according to their specific needs, giving them the opportunity to develop to their full potential at their own pace," said Kamal, a San Ramon resident.

The program curriculum focuses on a range of subjects, including social and communication skills, self-advocacy and good decision-making skills, personal finance, sports and recreational activities, arts and crafts, music, dance, computer literacy and cooking.

Fair Chance operated in Del Amigo's Portable 2 earlier this year from 2-6 p.m. weekdays before shifting to Cal High for the summer, the founders said. Civic, education and community leaders gathered at Del Amigo for the ribbon-cutting May 11.

For more information, visit the Fair Chance website.

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