About 1 in 8 kids in the US has special needs. Despite this alarmingly high number, parents of kids with special needs face incredible loneliness in their challenge to deal with their child’s disability.
Almost 9 years ago, a few Indian parents got together to form a playgroup to get their kids to socialize with others facing similar challenges, and also to form a support group for themselves. The group evolved into Jeena, a non-profit organization in the Bay Area dedicated to helping children with developmental disorders and their families.
Right from the start, one of Jeena’s missions has been to bring children with special needs out of their shell and help them socialize and show off their talents. Jeena Yahaan( “Live here and now”), an annual show, has been the forum for this mission.
This year, the talented kids of Jeena are planning their annual show on May 3rd at the India Community Center. Bay Area’s premier dance company Naach is training the kids to dance to a medley of Bollywood songs. Another dance is being choreographed by the Indian Fusion Dance Company. The kids will also be singing a song taught by Pt. Habib Khan and putting on a play and talent show. Typically the evening will include a silent auction, dinner, and the evening ends with guests swinging to latest Bollywood melodies.
“Jeena Yahaan gives hope to parents. They meet other like minded parents, and form networks and are inspired to live life here and now. My son Neel, who is autistic, has benefited a tremendous amount from Jeena Yahaan,” says Sanjita Dhingra, a long time Jeena member who is putting together this year’s show. “Thanks to Jeena, he has got over his anxiety over performing in public.” 13 year-old Neel is now confident enough to participate in his school band with over a 100 other kids, a real challenge for an autistic child.
Kids with Cerebral Palsy and non-verbal kids also find a way to be a part of Jeena Yahaan as the show is tailored to each child’s special need. With a mix of typical and special needs children, it is an inclusive setting where everyone feels comfortable being themselves and doing their best.
While your pocketbook may be thin because of the current economic environment, I urge you to help Jeena put together their annual show this year. It is an incredibly important event for the kids who look forward to it all year. I have attended previous shows and have been moved by the look of pride on both the children’s and the parents’ faces.
The easiest way to contribute is by using the donate button at the Jeena website if you wish to remain anonymous. But Jeena would like to acknowledge your contribution, so send a check with your name or the name of the person you wish to donate on behalf of to
1510 Centre Pointe,
Milpitas, CA 95035
You can also contact Sanjita at for more information at email@example.com or 408 2031043. If you are a vendor or products or services applicable to families in the Bay Area, it is worth noting that the event attracts about 400 to 500 families, largely from the Indian American community. Jeena is open to banner displays and vendor tables for your company.
Jeena is doing tremendous work in the Bay Area and also in India where the organization trains professionals in the care of special needs children. Do find your way to helping them out.