As 2018 comes to an end, and 2019 begins, we would like to reflect on some of our favorite moments, this past year.
Growth Growth Growth
2018 was our biggest year of growth in student enrollment. Maren Prep classes continue to grow. At the same time as more students enter middle and high school. We also experienced record setting enrollment for our Learning Program courses that serve younger age groups. For more details on all of the classes and programs we offer, visit https://www.marenfund.org/programs.
Maren 'Fun'd with Friends at the Shack
On January 27, we hosted our annual fundraiser at the Shack. It was a great night filled with music, food, raffle tickets and fun - all benefitting the Maren Fund. Thank you to everyone who purchased tickets and attended!
Superheroes for Kids
In April, our founder and Executive Director Julie Williams was awarded the 2018 Superhero for Kids Award by the St. Louis ARC. Julie was given this award in honor of her continuous advocacy for children with Down syndrome and creation of the Maren Fund and Learning Program of St. Louis! On April 19, more than 400 guests gathered - including many members of our community - for a superhero-themed party benefiting the St. Louis ARC and honoring Julie.
This spring, the Cardinals reached out to our director Julie to invite some students and their families to a fun night at Busch Stadium! Nine of our students and their parents were treated to the Cardinals vs. Royals game. The group arrived at the game early to attend batting practice and a Q&A in the dugout with pitcher Adam Wainwright. Afterwards, they were given game tickets and food vouchers to enjoy an evening of baseball! It was a wonderful night filled with excitement, smiles and baseball with friends!
Learning doesn’t stop in the summer! This past summer, we hosted two book clubs and a Back-to-School Bootcamp. We called our book club “More Than a Book Club” because in addition to reading a book with friends, our students took part in hands-on activities that were designed to bring the fiction stories to life. Our Junior Grad Group, Grad Group and Club 21 students read Magic Treehouse "Afternoon on the Amazon" and "Wonder.”
We put on our annual Back-to-School Bootcamp in August to help students get back into the routine of going to a school - but with a little more fun (it IS still summer after all!) Lead by talented teachers, students spent every day of an entire week on language arts, math, speech/language skills as well as music, art and PE activities.
"Intelligent Lives" Documentary
In partnership with the DSAGSL, we hosted a screening of the documentary “Intelligent Lives” on November 7. This film by award-winning film maker Dan Habib has a special connection to our organization: It chronicles the lives of three young adults with cognitive disabilities (one of which with Down syndrome) as they excel in school, work and relationships. Two of our community members, Kim and Blair Schwalb, organized a showing of this film at the AMC in Edwardsville. Tickets sold out, and the profits were split between the Maren Fund and the DSAGSL. It was a great film that showed how much people with disabilities can contribute to society!
On December 14, we hosted a holiday party for Grad Group and Club 21 students and their families. Activities included a gift exchange between students, cookie decorating, a taco bar and various games. Thank you to TASK Sports for providing the venue for the event!
These highlights are just a selection of many amazing times we had in 2018. Thank you to everyone who supported us this past year. We look forward to sharing our journey with you in 2019!