Teenagers are a growing demographic of special needs individuals in Orange County. This past summer, a mother daughter volunteer team, led by Natalie Cernius, formed a club and met a need that is often overlooked.
The Friday Night Club was created for the sole purpose of creating a safe place for upwards of 60 special needs teens and young adults to come, make friends, watch movies and spend time together. Natalie saw that her 17 year-old brother Andrew, who has autism, has few places or avenues in which to meet other teens like him. As her older siblings left for college, Andrew was left without his playmates, and his only friends. Poita and her daughter saw the need for a place for Andrew to “hang out” with friends just like typical teens do. This club that Natalie created gives special needs teens a place to thrive and become their own person in a safe environment.
Parents can see their children connect with peers right before their eyes, a dream many of them didn’t think would come true. They are grateful that their children have a place to go and belong. Their sons and daughters have gained independence and made leaps into their futures, because of the work Natalie and her mother have done.
Each time this club meets, a life is impacted. Natalie is making a difference in the lives of teens with special needs and helping them live a Life Without Limits.