Marissa Hacker, a freshman Communication Disorders major, learned one of the most important lessons in her life from her twin brother, Matthew, during high school.
Matthew was often excluded and ignored by his peers because he has autism. Seeing her brother emotionally hurt and knowing that there were many other teens out there being treated the same way, she decided to change that. She founded Fantastic Friends: Teens and Tweens Special Needs Social Group, a national organization that provides a welcoming space for young adults, teens and tweens (ages 10-12) with special needs to socialize, relax and have fun through monthly meetings and special events.
Hacker, of Voorhees, said, “I wanted Matthew and other teens with special needs to have a place where they could make friends and feel accepted by their peers. It’s an organization to bring awareness and unconditional support and love. It’s like being a part of a giant family,” she said.
In her first semester at Stockton College, Hacker has already established a Fantastic Friends college chapter. A constitution has been written, a board selected and volunteers have been meeting in preparation for a full launch of the new student organization next semester. Those interested in getting involved can contact firstname.lastname@example.org.