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STAR mentor teen event 2011Meet and socialize with other people in the SNSC family.

SNSC offers diverse activities and social opportunities for people of all ages with special needs.  Here click on the different activity names to read specific details about each — when you’ve found your favorites, view the Calendar and sign up to attend upcoming activities!


ART LAB is a studio art class that is offered for three 12-week sessions during the academic year and also for a 6-week session in the summer. Classes meet in the South Studio at the AVA Gallery in Lebanon, New Hampshire and are taught by professional artists with support from Sylvia Dow, the creator of the program, who is an educator and the parent of special needs adult children. There are two weekly classes offered in each session; the cost is $60 for each class in the longer academic year sessions, and $30 for classes in the summer.

SNSC may provide financial assistance for all or some of the costs for ART LAB. Please call SNSC at 603-448-6311 for more information or email Pam.

Connections is a Big Brother/Big Sister program sponsored jointly by SNSC and Dartmouth College. Through Connections, any child between the ages of 6 and 13 who has special needs can be matched with a Dartmouth College volunteer.  All Connections volunteers have expressed an interest in being a one-to-one mentor and received training and support from the Tucker Foundation at the college.

In the company of their mentors, children involved in the program gain opportunities to get out into the community, engage in new activities, and practice their social skills. Through consistent and caring contact, the volunteers seek to build trust with their “Sibs.” Many times, these relationships blossom into true friendships that last over the student’s years at Dartmouth.

To learn more about Connections and/or enroll your child, please call SNSC at 603-448-6311or email Pam.

The Happenings Program is intended for older teens (Grade 10 and up) and younger adults with developmental disabilities. It is a collaborative effort of Special Needs Support Center and Pathways of the River Valley and is assisted by the Family Support Council and the Hartford Regional Resource Center.  Activities include dances, bowling, pizza and bingo nights, karaoke, and other events related to the seasons.

Visit the Calendar to learn details about upcoming Happenings and sign up to attend. Most events cost $5.00, are open to the friends and family members of the participants, and may require an RSVP.

A mailing list is maintained, an annual calendar is sent every fall, and notices are sent prior to each event with confirmation of date and time, location, cost and other details. Please call SNSC at 603-448-6311 to learn more and be added to the mailing list.

ASPIRE was created by Dartmouth students in 2010, and continues to offer play and activity groups for children on the autism spectrum with support from the Special Needs Support Center.

For more information on all the groups, please call the Special Needs Support Center at 603-448-6311. Groups meet throughout the year when the college is in session.


When: Saturdays from 1:00 to 3:00
Where: Green Mountain Children’s Center, 92 Farmvu Dr, White River Junction, VT 05001

Playgroup is ASPIRE’s oldest and largest program. We lead younger children on the autism spectrum, ages 4 to 7+, through a number of fun and engaging activities. These activities include story time, an art project, snack time, and of course lots of free play time! Each student volunteer is responsible for playing and interacting with one child, helping this child through the art project and other tasks. Playgroup is fun for kids and volunteers alike, and provides a unique opportunity for children on the spectrum to develop social and communication skills. The agenda for each term also usually includes a trip to the Montshire Science Museum!

Swim Group

When: Fridays from 4:00 to 5:00
Where: Upper Valley Aquatic Center, 100 Arboretum Lane, White River Jct., VT 05001

Special Note:  Prior contact with the organizers is required for attendance at the Swim Group. Space is very limited; all SNSC at 603-448-6311 before attending the first time.

ASPIRE’s Swim Group was created with the goal of presenting autistic children with a fun new outlet for their energy while also allowing them to gain experience with swimming and social interaction. Every Friday at the Upper Valley Aquatic Center, volunteers work one-on-one with autistic children to learn swimming-related skills and to have fun. The hour consists of water play with a 1:1 volunteer. The UVAC facility includes a lazy river and a water slide, which the volunteers love almost as much as the kids! There is no charge for swim group.


When: Saturdays from 1:00 to 3:00
Where:  Green Mountain Children’s Center, 92 Farmvu Dr, White River Junction, VT 05001

This is APIRE’s newest group, targeted towards older and higher functioning children on the autism spectrum. The STEPS group was designed after “social thinking” groups but it is not as structured, allowing the kids and volunteers more room to have fun. The theme for each day is based on a specific skill that we help the kids work on through modeling and practice with a high ratio of student mentors.

The STAR Program was created for adolescents with chronic physical health conditions. It is a group mentoring program that brings the teens together with Dartmouth College students who also have chronic health concerns for regular meetings and activities.

The STAR mission is to promote healthy psychological and social development for the teen participants through mentoring, education and peer and family support. Teens in the program must be in grades 8 through 12 and have non-intellectual conditions. These conditions include but are not limited to: asthma, cancer, cardiology conditions, cerebral palsy, Crohn’s disease/colitis, cystic fibrosis, diabetes, hearing impairment, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, seizure disorders, and spina bifida.

The monthly free dinner meetings are held from late September through May on the Dartmouth Campus from 6:00 to 8:00 pm. Parents participate in a concurrent but separate support group. Special mentor-teen events happen throughout the academic year as well. To learn more about STAR and/or enroll your child, please call SNSC at 603-448-6311 or email PamVisit the Calendar for specific details about current year meetings and events.

Interested Dartmouth College students should contact the Tucker Foundation for information on how to become a STAR mentor. Mentors organize the mentor-teen events and provide valuable ideas for the monthly meeting agendas. Meetings often have a theme, such as the impact of chronic health conditions on families, coping with a condition at school, relationships with medical providers, and transitioning from school to school. Once a year, teens and mentors have the option to challenge themselves at a full-day retreat at the Hulbert Outdoor Center in Fairlee, Vermont.


Dr. Phyllis WilsonPhyllis Ruth WilsonSTAR is the brainchild of Hanover, NH resident Phyllis Wilson, Ph.D.  Dr. Wilson’s late daughter, Phyllis Ruth Wilson, contracted Polio as a preteen. As a mother and psychologist, Dr. Wilson watched her previously healthy daughter struggle with a physical disability during her adolescent years. While Dr. Wilson’s daughter did successfully transition to adulthood, the experience left a significant impression on her. Dr. Wilson believed that young people who have chronic health conditions need and deserve support in coping with their challenges and in learning to grow toward a happy and productive adulthood. She envisioned a program that would give young people with chronic illnesses and disabilities the chance to make adolescence a rich and positive experience. It was Dr. Wilson’s vision and generosity that led to the establishment of STAR in 1996.

Kate CreskoffIn the fall of 1997 Kate Creskoff, a Dartmouth College student, read about STAR and after contacting Program Director Mark Detzer, Ph.D. and securing funding from the Koop Institute, became a full-time STAR intern. In the spring of 1998 she and Dr. Detzer developed the mentoring program that continues to be the mainstay of STAR.

For over a decade, STAR, in collaboration with the Tucker Foundation of Dartmouth College, has been bringing special needs teens and young adult Dartmouth College mentors together for monthly education, support and fun.

In 2008, Star proudly joined the family of Special Needs Support Center programs.