Parents Make Texas-Sized Mums and Garters for Special Needs Students

In Frisco, a group of parents are working to make high school homecoming memorable for as many students as possible.

"Someone said 'it looks like a craft store exploded in your dining room' and I'm like, 'yeah, it does. And, in my living room and my kitchen,'" said Cindy Badon as she surveyed the spools of ribbon and piles of charms strewn around her home.

Badon and other parents with the nonprofit 'Frisco SAGE' are making more than 100 mums and garters to distribute to special needs students at six Frisco ISD high school campuses in time for each of their homecoming weeks.

Some schools already have similar efforts underway, but Badon said she looks for any gaps and tries to fill them.

As the parent of a special needs seventh-grader, Badon hopes to get a mum or garter in the hands of any student that may not otherwise get one.

"You don't want your kid to be forgotten or ignored or blend into the background," said Badon. "You want your kid to be a part of things, you want people to see how easy it is to include someone else."

Tuesday, SAGE volunteers delivered bright green and gold mums to the Functional Academics class at Lebanon Trail High School. The volunteers handed off the mums and garters to the students' "Best Buddies" – a program that pairs typical education students with special needs students.

"This is one of the moments that I'll never forget in my life and getting to share that experience with all of my friends was just unbelievable and amazing," said senior Zach Siegel – president of the Lebanon Trail High School Best Buddies chapter.

As Siegel helped pass out the mums and garters, he explained that the students would take them home then bring them back Thursday for Spirit Day before this weekend's homecoming dance.

Siegel said some of the Best Buddies will attend the dance with the special education students.

"That's what I would tell everybody to take away from this: give everybody a chance regardless of name or need," said Siegel.

Kiavash Kashanian, a 10th-grader in the Functional Academics class, said the delivery was a welcome surprise.

"It makes them really special and, to be honest, everybody deserves to have one," said Kashanian as he pointed to the new garter on his arm.

Badon said volunteers who make the mums and garters are parents of special education students themselves and understand how the gesture can extend to the entire family of a student.

"It makes a right-of-passage that sometimes can be a sad time for a parent with a student with special needs, it allows them to celebrate too," explained Badon.

She said strangers have donated old mums and garters that the volunteers recycle for the new ones. To donate, volunteers can connect with the group on its website or Facebook page.

Badon said their goal is to show how inclusion can happen in simple ways with a lasting impact.

"Seeing their faces light up when they get it, that's worth every bit of glitter all over my house."

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