Written by CAPA-JRC reporters Andrew Dai and Daniel Li
In a heartening celebration of holiday joy, CAPA-MC’s SEEDS (Special Education Equal Development Society) club, in conjunction with CCACC (Chinese Culture and Community Service Center) Health Center, hosted a festive concert at the Art Gallery of CCACC on January 2nd of this year. The concert was tailored for special education students, and was also greatly enjoyed by the club’s volunteers and community members. The event aimed to provide a unique and inclusive musical experience, bringing community attention to the special-education children and families.
The CCACC Art Gallery was transformed into a cheery wonderland for the celebration. The night began with the chorus performance by special-education students and their paired volunteers. The harmony of classic holiday songs filled the air with merriness. It was followed by a stunning array of performances from both special-education students and volunteers, including instrumental, dance, singing, and kung fu demonstrations. The audience was left in awe of the impressive talent of the various SEEDS members and volunteers.
Choral Performance by SEEDS members and volunteers (Photography by Andrew Dai)
The CAPA-MC’s SEEDS club, is known for its commitment to providing social and educational services for special education students, as well as a connection between special education students and the community through various activities. These activities also provide the volunteers with opportunities to contribute to the community and learn valuable social skills, while advocating for equal rights for special education students.
Sophie Huang, the current student President of SEEDS, gave insight on SEEDS goals for the community. “[SEEDS plays a] really important role because it advocates for more resources for those that don’t have a lot in the community right now, specifically special education students,” Huang said.
Sophie also recognizes that the Montgomery County educational system needs to provide extra support for students with special needs. “[That] is why I think that SEEDS as a club or as an organization is super important in society because not only does it advocate for more resources for [special education students], but it also provides them with the resources and opportunities to improve,” Huang said.
In addition to providing students with special needs resources that they otherwise might not have access to. “[Special-education students] don't really have a lot of opportunities to actually perform, by themselves or in a small group,” Huang said. The holiday concert would help foster a sense of independence by allowing SEEDS members to perform on their own or with peers.
SEEDS not only allows for students with special needs to gain independence, but it gives them valuable skills such as performing in a large audience. “I think it's really important for them and to also have such a large audience, it really allows them to exercise their confidence or their skills in front of an audience,” Huang stated.
Singing/Guitar by Jake He, SEEDS member （Photography by Andrew Dai)
Jingfeng Huang, a Parent Mentor at SEEDS, expressed a similar sentiment when interviewed. He said that oftentimes, many SEEDS members’ individual struggles resulted in difficulties when performing in typical concerts. In addition to helping the members improve in performing in concerts, Jingfeng Huang also spoke of the holiday concert as a way to bring the concert to the SEEDS members who rarely have the opportunities to go to a concert. Instead of having them conform to a standard concert, this SEEDS concert allows special-education students to feel the support from their community and show their musical talents.
Darren Li, a special needs student that performed Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” at the concert, cited his reason for joining SEEDS was that it had a meaningful purpose. “It allowed people with special education to feel equal and well-treated,” Li said. Li’s choice to perform at the concert was motivated by his wish to step out of his comfort zone and to sing something memorable and uplifting to his peers.
Singing by Darren Li, SEEDS member （Photography by Andrew Dai)
CAPA-JRC members also interviewed the CCACC Health Center Director, Kate Lu. The Health Center is just one of many programs that CCACC has created to help the community, and their collaboration with SEEDS is a continuation of their work. According to Ms. Lu, the CCACC Health Center provides occupational and physical therapy, while SEEDS organizes community events for children with disabilities, stating that the two groups collaborate together “to form a more comprehensive service for the community.”
The SEEDS concert not only brought holiday joy to the audience but also served as a reminder that everyone deserves an opportunity to shine, regardless of their abilities. It showcased the diverse talents of special-education students, and also brought community attention to the talents and abilities of special-education students, fostering a greater understanding and appreciation for inclusivity.
Guzheng Duet by Sophie Huang/ Sophia Zhu （Photography by Andrew Dai)
This article was provided by the Chinese American Parents Association Junior Reporter Club (CAPA JRC) with members who interviewed, audio recorded, wrote, translated, and video recorded. CAPA JRC has 25 Montgomery County middle to high school students. They have created a bilingual platform delivering news and serving the community.