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Carnival for special needs, Sept. 20
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vJanna Bourdonnay has two great loves in her life.

The first would be her love for karate. The Heritage High School senior has been practicing karate since she was a child and holds a first-degree blackbelt in the martial art.

Her second love is teaching. Specifically, teaching children with mental and physical disabilities. On Saturdays, she combines her two loves at WorldClass American Karate, 1680 Dogwood Drive, Conyers, where she teaches karate to special needs children.

Working with children who need special care is a humbling experience, said Bourdonnay.

But next Saturday, she'll spend an afternoon with special needs children at a carnival specifically designed for children with disabilities.

The "Carnival For Children With Special Needs" is an event setup by about 120 youths, ages 12 to 18, from the Conyers Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Heritage High School Beta Club.

With the help of adults, the kids, who hail from Rockdale County and other counties in the surrounding area, had to think of games and setup ten to 15 booths that would be accessible for the children with special needs.

The carnival will feature an obstacle course, a ring toss, pony ride, face painting and other activities. Julie Kimble, an adult coordinator for the carnival, says that no matter what disability a child has there will be something for them to appreciate at the carnival.

"It's catered for them to have fun in a safe environment where they are the stars of the show," said Kimble, who teaches at Heritage High School. "This is the first one we've planned so I hope it goes well."

Bourdonnay, a youth committee member for the carnival, is the lead planner for the group of youths. Giving special needs children and their families an opportunity to interact with the community and make new friends is worth two hours of a Saturday, said Bourdonnay.

"It's been a lot of fun," Bourdonnay said about the planning process. "I've worked with special needs kids before so I'm excited to put this together for them and see how it goes."

The carnival is free for everyone. It'll be at The Church of Latter-day Saints, 1275 Flat Shoals Road, from 3 to 5 p.m. on Sept. 20.