The Harker Heights library has a very special club — the A-Listers — which meets on the first Monday of every month from 6 to 7 p.m. The club is tailored to older teens and young adults with special needs, and offers a wide variety of activities while giving members an opportunity to socialize with one another in a safe, familiar environment.
Betty DeLong, library circulation manager, oversees the club. She said that when she took the program over from someone else, “I immediately loved it.” She went on to say, “Usually during other library programs, I’ll put together something for them, but for today, someone had mentioned Killeen-opoly (a version of the game Monopoly, featuring landmarks and properties around Killeen).” So she and library director Lisa Youngblood bought a copy of the game, and turned that suggestion into a reality for Monday’s activity.
The group of five young men were very much at ease with one another, teasing each other as they good-naturedly argued over who would get which token or who owed what rent on properties. But they were also quick to help each other, such as helping to move another’s token when it was too far for them to reach, or reminding someone when it was their turn. The group had a true camaraderie, and every one of the young men accepted each other, no questions asked.
They had a great time, as each expressed, both playing the game and with each other’s company.
Kim Palumbo brought her 19-year-old son Austin. She said that this was only his second time attending the A-Listers, but it’s what she had to say about his first experience that perfectly described the group. “The first night he met the other kids, they said they were all brothers.”
Palumbo heard about the A-Listers through the Harker Heights Parks and Recreation magazine, and was thrilled to learn that the library had such a program for Austin. “I was excited that something came up that he could do,” she said. She has also signed Austin up for the city’s adaptive sports soccer program, also tailored for youth and young adults with special needs, due to begin Oct. 1.
Austin said that he loves the A-Listers Club. “It’s fun because there’s a lot to do, and all the kids are friends.”
When asked what they might do next month, one of the members said, “We come with an open mind about what’s going to happen.”
Library director Lisa Youngblood, however, said, “Members are very involved in determining the activities, which vary from art, to crafts, to games.”
DeLong mentioned that they hadn’t done video games in a while, and when she mentioned that the library had, among other gaming systems, an Xbox One, Austin’s eyes got very big and his smile very wide. “I guess we’ll be playing video games next month,” DeLong said, smiling herself.
“We are thrilled to offer the A-Listers Club,” Youngblood said. “Anyone who wants to participate is welcome.”
For more information about the A-Listers Club, contact the library at 254-953-5491.