My son has been a part of Sidekicks - and now Connectability for almost 7 years. From his first days of coming to a gathering and watching from the fringes to now being the cheerleader/life of the party, he has always felt welcome and we felt he was safe. His love for Jacque and her gang is visible anytime their names are mentioned. James and Jacque/Jacque and James - what wonderful examples to the community.
ConnectAbility and Sidekicks are amazing! My daughter and I had the privilege of visiting the Sidekicks respite program and observe what a blessing it is to the people served and their families - and also to those volunteers who help make it possible. It is a loving, caring environment where people are treated with dignity, respect, and just valued for who they are. There is fun, crafts, snacks, Bible stories, music - and parents/caregivers get some needed rest during this time. Jacquelyn Daniel started all of this and has some of the most dedicated volunteers. It is hard work but is a passion of hers to help people with disabilities.
We have been truely blessed to have the opportunity to participate in all of the activities that Connectability provides to our extended community. Connectability addresses so many areas of great need for us including respite for individuals of all ages with special needs, share groups for caregivers and families, organizational and volunteer support for Special Olympics, and the development and support of special needs ministries in non-denominational places of worship. Jacqueline Daniel has created, nutured, and expanded Connectability in order to reach that invisible population - the often forgotten and neglected population of those with disabilities. As a parent of a child with Down syndrome, I can honestly tell you that I can rest easier knowing that my child has a place in our community thanks to Connectablity. I will always be grateful for Jacqueline and for Connectability.
Jacque Daniel has an incredible heart for those with special needs. I have watched her passion as a volunteer develop in this area since she was teenager. Since those many years ago she has prepared herself both educationally and as a young leader for her most recent endeavor of founding ConnectAbility, a not for profit organization focusing specifically on those with special needs. Her vision extends from educating and connecting churches of all sizes and denominations, to participation in school systems and in the Special Olympics. Great things are in store for this organization where countless individuals and their extended families will be strengthened and encouraged. With so many competing intangibles for our time and finances, Jacque Daniel’s passion and excitement for what she believes is not only a career, but a calling, separates her from the rest.
Paul Bates, Pastor, Author, & ConnectAbility Volunteer
What an incredible opportunity to serve children and adults with special needs! ConnectAbility is led by Jacque Daniel, a seasoned professional in this field. She had the credentials and more importantly, the heart, passion, and drive to make dreams a reality for people who are in great need. She has created an event each month called Sidekicks, in which special needs children and adults can come and enjoy many creative life experiences. The special needs attendees are treated with respect, love and the specific care that they individually require.
My friend's daughter has been with Sidekicks for the past three years and the growth I have seen in her is amazing! It comes across in her attitude, in her smile, in her energy! I am looking forward to getting a chance to volunteer with Sidekicks sometime in the near future after seeing the amazing things they help to accomplish!
I have been a volunteer with Sidekicks for many years. As a special ed teacher, I have seen few organizations available that are so helpful to the families of children with special needs. I have enjoyed watching the children in program mature and gain social skills. Last year I took guardianship of a 10 year old with special needs. Several of the parents have helped me with naviagating thru some programs that were unfamiliar to me. So, I have seen both sides of the organization-both as a volunteer and a new parent. I highly recommend this organization for families who have children with special needs.
I was invited about 5 years ago to bring my daughter to Sidekicks and our family was instantly welcomed with an incredible amount of warmth and kindess that we so desperately needed at that time in our lives. My daughter, Fiona, LOVES Sidekicks and her two typically developing brothers also enjoyed participated in the fun Friday evenings once/month. It is difficult to get a babysitter to watch three young children, esp when one has special needs, and this time also afforded my husband and I a few hours to go to dinner and get a needed break. Some months, we would stay and volunteer as well and found we enjoyed that equally as much. I began work on my Masters degree in Special Education about this same time and then spent the next two Summers getting to volunteer to help with Sidekicks' VBS program. I truly think that perhaps tied with my wedding week and the weeks of my children's births, these are the two happiest weeks of my life thus far. The entire group of Sidekicks, led by example by Jacques Daniel, is the most joyous group of people I have ever met- people that I know God put on this planet to make a better place- and it is contagious. As I am a special education teacher and have been involved with Sidekicks for a few years, I was recently asked to join the Board of Directors for this organization.
ConnectAbility and Sidekicks is a much needed organization providing social interaction for adults and children with disabilities, while at the same time giving parents and caregivers much needed respite. Jacque Daniel has skill, experience (I should know, she worked with me years ago as a teen volunteer in a respite program I began in Gwinnett County!) and a natural ability to relate to individuals with disabilities. She's a dedicated, hard-worker with a heart to touch both the people she serves and their families. Any life would be enhanced by the services ConnectAbility provides and you are sure to leave with a smile on your face, eagerly awaiting the next opportunity to socialize with your friends or to take a breather knowing your loved one is having fun in a safe, caring, enriching environment!
I began volunteering with Sidekicks last year and have thoroughly enjoyed every opportunity to interact with this special group of people. My young son and I both look forward to our monthly get-togethers. In the beginning I thought I would be doing a good thing for this group - it turns out I think I get more rewards than I give. I know the parents and caregivers appreciate a few hours of free time and Jacque always plans a fun evening of activities for us to share. Looking forward to future opportunities to participate!
I began to take my children to the Sidekicks Respite program in December 2009. I had heard about the program for several months before I decided to check it out. I was hesitant to leave my special needs child with people I did not know. I stayed the entire time at that first respite event and watched as all three of my children had wonderful time. Every volunteer was so enthusiastic to be there and really seemed to genuinely love all the participants. After meeting Jacque Daniel and all the volunteers I felt completely at ease with the level of care my children would receive during the respite events. Many of the volunteers and participants have become extended family for us, and a single mom with no family in the area these connections have become invaluable to me. I would highly recommend this organization.
I have volunteered with Connectability through their Sidekicks program for 8 years and not only have I been touched by the magnitude of the organization in such a small community but also have changed my understanding of children and adults with special needs. Every month is a party with my friends. The events are different than any event imaginable. There is always a positive and uplifting atmosphere.
My son ELie became a part of Side Kicks in 2006. At first his 'participation' consisted of sitting in a corner on the floor watching and eating if given food. Gradually, he has come to recognize friends and favorite people.
Now he is a star with hsi very own front page pictures, enjoying dancing and socializing with his peers.
Sidekicks has welcomed him and helped him grow, whether he chose to sit in the corner and observe, or be an active participant.
We are blessed to have the dedicated people who have pushed forward to create this growing group. Thank you.