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At the Meeting Street schools, students put their diverse abilities into greeting cards and other holiday fare

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Lots of things happen during “Leisure Group,” and every day is a little different. Sometimes there’s music. Other times they play games. But with the holidays approaching, the students spend a half-hour of their week putting together greeting cards and ornaments – so that Meeting Street teachers, students, and supporters can purchase and take them home.

“The students are the designers,” says Michelle Fonda, an occupational therapy assistant at the Carter School. “And we are the production crew.”
Leisure Group is just one of the many programs at the Carter School, the private high school in Providence equipped for students with special needs. Six students participate in Leisure Group, with ages ranging from 14 to 22. They all arrive in motorized wheelchairs, and they spend their time here while the rest of the school goes to lunch in the cafeteria; for medical reasons, none of these students eat solid food, so the time slot is reserved for other activities – such as ornament-making.

“For the most part, it’s about the choices,” says Michelle, who spends these sessions surrounded by baskets of crafting supplies. “It could become an occupation. With assistance, they choose what craft they want to do today. They can pick a color. They can pick a design. They can sell a product.”

These kinds of crafts have become a Meeting Street tradition. This year, the school has collected greeting cards created by students; together, they vote on their four favorites. These are then printed as 15-card packets, which sell for $15. Proceeds benefit Meeting Street programs in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Last December, the school sold more than 800 packs of cards, plus 12,000 individual cards.

“We were so impressed with the artistic talent of our students, and choosing only four designs is no easy task,” said John Kelly, president of Meeting Street. “These cards are the perfect way to send greetings to your friends and loved ones while showing your support for Meeting Street.”

Meeting Street was founded in 1946, and it currently comprises several different schools, including an early learning center, a state-funded pre-K, the Grace School (elementary), Schwartz School (Massachusetts), and the Carter School.

This year’s cards show carolers, a snowman, a sprig of holly, and penguins dressed in winter outfits. On December 6, Meeting Street will host a holiday bazaar, where an even wider range of student-made gifts will be available for sale. In the past, the Leisure Group has also contributed headbands, barrettes, flower pens, and luminaries.

Meeting Street | 1000 Eddy Street, Providence