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Special needs carnival offers safe, fun experience

LAYTON — An occasional splash punctuated by cheering sounded Friday as special needs adults participated at the North Eastern Services carnival.

"The dunk tank has been the most popular," said Toni DePetro, day program manager at North Eastern Services. "They are all really excited to dunk their staff members. They don't usually get to do things like that so it's really exciting for them."

It was the first time the day treatment center at 1626 N. 2200 West was chosen as the location for the carnival, providing adults with mental disabilities a fun, safe experience, organizers said.

"It's about getting our people out into the community and enjoying things that you or I would in a safe manner," said Diana Smith, director of the Layton center.

The day center's participants decided on the features, Smith said, including a dunking machine, petting zoo and bouncy house, along with carnival games and face painting.

The petting zoo vied for attention with the dunk tank, with animals ranging from miniature horses to garden snakes.

Carnival participant Tiffani Lasley said even though the snakes were not her favorite feature, the carnival was a good place to be.

"I like to be at the group home and have fun," Lasley said. "I like to see all the wheelchair people, and there's quite a lot of people that will make me happy here. Enough though I have a job, I really am happy here."

Cory Crabb, president of North Eastern Services, said such events highlight the company's purpose of helping adults with disabilities develop life skills.

"This is just one of eight locations where we do that throughout the state," Crabb said. "We help, I'd say, about 400 Utahns with disabilities throughout the state."

North Eastern Services plans to host similar events in the future, including a winter ball for adults with disabilities.

"They have such a blast," Smith said. "They look forward to things like this, but don't we all?"

Email: klarsen@deseretnews.com