STARS Program at JCC in Whitefish Bay Brings About Incredible Transformation

With all the recent headlines about threats and evacuations, today on the CBS 58 News at 4 we'll bring you a story about the JCC that you haven't heard.

It's a story of a child with special needs who has undergone an amazing transformation.  

Her name is Mande Matheis and she is 15 years old.  

Her mom Shannon brought her to the JCC four years ago in search of an enriching program for her daughter .

At the JCC Shannon found the Center for Inclusion and Special Needs, and the STARS program (Students That Are Really Special), which she describes as "our saving grace for services outside of school" for Mande.

In the four years she has been involved in STARS, Mande had participated in almost every program including music, art, yoga, swimming and activities aimed building social interaction skills.

Mande's parents credit the STARS program for her social and emotional growth.  

Shannon says it's where "everything started" for Mande.

Whereas Mande began in STARS needing a therapist by her side at all times, she no longer requires a therapist for the activities.

Mande is now completely independent and self-sufficient.  She now actually serves as a role model to her fellow students - guiding, reassuring, and encouraging.  Her story of growth is inspired.

Of course Mande has the support of loving, amazing parents, and two sisters who have served as volunteers for the STARS program.  Between Mande's family and the JCC Center for Inclusion and Special Needs, the pieces of the puzzle fit together perfectly.

For more information on the program click here

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