“On Saturday, Sept. 16, the non-profit Exceptional Individuals with Dreams Celebrations in conjunction with the Muslim American Society hosted its eighth annual Eid Celebration for Children with Special Needs. Attendees enjoyed face painting, moon bounces, train rides, pony rides, a petting zoo, cupcake decorating, and arts and crafts.
Eid al Adha is a Muslim holiday meaning “Feast of the Sacrifice”. This year it fell on Sept. 1. It comes after Eid Al Fitr, which celebrates the end of Ramadan.
Founder Rasha Abulohom was inspired to create the event after taking her brother, who has autism, to crowded Eid festivals where he needed special accommodation. “There have been times where someone [in a line] would say, ‘It’s not fair for all of us to wait in line while he cuts,’” she said. After explaining their situation, she said other festivalgoers’ compliance “felt like pity, more than a right, for my brother”.
“I always wished there was a celebration for them—for my brother and other special needs kids,” she said.
She found a sponsor in Islamic Relief USA. Saturday’s event took place at the MAS Community Center.
Over the years, some things have changed. The first year, only children with special needs and their parents were allowed to attend the event. Now, their siblings can come. “I want them to feel like they are special and this is for them,” said Abulohom of special needs children.
The event featured a sensory room for children who get over-stimulated when there is too much light and noise. It also had a photo booth area for families to print out a picture and put it in a card frame. “Every year the family goes home with a picture of a good memory,” said Abulohom.
Each year, attendees do a prayer together to honor the holiday. Both Muslims and non-Muslims attended. “Everyone participates in the prayer,” said Abulohom. “And we’re all praying for the same thing: health, family.”
Abulohom hopes to expand her event to different states. She said she would like to reach outside of the Muslim community and collaborate with churches and synagogues.”
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