Darien High School senior, Elizabeth Palmer, has been awarded Abilis’s Peter Bloomer Citizenship Award for her volunteer service in the Darien YMCA’s programs for individuals with special needs.  She is one of three recipients of the award which was presented on April 5.

Elizabeth has been a dedicated volunteer in the special needs programs at the Darien Y for over three years.  She was instrumental in forming the “Just Us Girls” program, a weekly social group where girls age 8 through 12 engage in a variety of activities that range from doing the things they know and love to valuable first time experiences. She has also been a weekly volunteer in the “Unified Art” program which focuses on artistic expression and social development for children with special needs. She has also planned events including a magic show in a sensory-friendly environment for Darien Y members with special needs for Noroton Presbyterian Church’s service day.

Beyond the walls of the Darien Y, Elizabeth has served on the Abilis Youth Board where she and teens from neighboring towns brainstorm ways to promote inclusion in their communities. She also serves as the president of the DHS “Best Buddies” program and has diligently worked to improve the level of commitment the buddies are making. Darien YMCA Director of Special Needs Terri Accomando says of Palmer, “It has been a great pleasure to witness the powerful combination of Elizabeth’s incredible ability and immense passion for helping and advocating for individuals with special needs.”

This spring, Palmer will be interning with Special Olympics through the DHS internship program.  When asked why she enjoys volunteering with individuals with special needs, Palmer says, “I always get back more than I give when I work with children with special needs. They have so much love to share and they actually teach me more than I teach them!”

For more information about volunteering or participating in the Darien Y’s programs for individuals for special needs, please www.darien-ymca.org or contact Terri Accomando at taccomando@darien-ymca.org.