A scarecrow, a pirate, and the Cookie Monster took to the runway at the Case Memorial Cage on Tuesday night. These costumes appeared among others at the annual Halloween fashion show for the ARC Community Engagement program. The program partners Andover students with differently abled members of the town of Andover’s community.
Victor Leos, Fellow in Community Engagement, donned a taco hat as he helped oversee the event, which he said is dedicated primarily to having fun.
“At the end of our fall term we like to have a Halloween parade event for all of the buddies so we encourage them to dress up. We encourage [Andover] students to dress up, even the faculty members, we like to dress up, and it’s just an opportunity to just have this fun event. We always have volunteers line up on either side of a path and what they do is cheer on the buddies as they walk through,” he said.
The Halloween fashion show is ARC’s last event of Fall Term. According to Karin Ulanovsky ’20, a Community Engagement Coordinator for ARC, the event gets participants into the Halloween spirit.
“Since it’s our last meeting with buddies before the winter term we want to make it fun. It’s really relaxing and everyone gets really into costumes which is always nice. We always make Halloween cards around the time… so the buddies and students who like to draw together usually make cards. It just gets everyone in the spirit,” said Ulanovsky.
Kelly McCarthy ’19 has participated in ARC for three years. McCarthy said she enjoyed the costume runway, which she thought complemented ARC’s normal weekly activities well.
McCarthy said, “It was super fun. I always love seeing the buddies dress up. My buddy came dressed as Cookie Monster, and she was wearing this blue fuzzy costume, and it was super cute. We still did all of the regular ARC things. We did our arts and crafts and danced. At the end of the meeting, we had a catwalk where all the buddies got to show off their costumes, and it was super fun and cute.”
The Halloween fashion show was just one event during ARC’s year-long programming. According to Monique Cueto-Potts, Director of Community Engagement, the program has served members of the Andover community for over 30 years.
“ARC is a program where students commit to a full year. It’s one of our few full-year programs, and they commit to working with an adult with disabilities, and the disabilities vary in range, for the full year. So they just have time on Tuesday nights to do whatever their buddy wants to do,” said Cueto-Potts.
Cueto-Potts continued, “It started in the early 1980s with children in the local area who had disabilities, and many of those people who were children are now adults in the program, and so they’ve stayed with the program since the 80s, essentially, on.”
Students meet with the ARC buddies on Tuesday nights to do whatever the buddies want to do. Some activities include arts and crafts, games such as soccer, walking around the track, and pushing wheelchairs around the track.
ARC tries to keep buddies together from year to year. According to Cueto-Potts, the program allows Andover students to form lasting connections with their buddies.
“I think ARC in general brings a lot of joy in the moment that the buddy sees their [Andover] student and in the moment that the [Andover] student sees their buddy. There’s just such a shared connection between the two and affection between the two. I think [the costume runway is] just another way for [Andover] students and their buddies to bond in a really fun way, and they get a kick out each other dressing up. It’s just fun to see them do the runway, and everyone’s so excited about it,” said Cueto-Potts.