Nearly three dozen children accepted the invitation to the Royal Party hosted by The Resiliency Center of Newtown on Monday, December 23, singing along with music therapist Jennifer Sokira, making crowns, wands, and shields with art therapists Nicole Porter-Willcox and Lisa Donohue-Olivieri, and dining on pizza provided by Franco’s Pizza & Pasta of Newtown.
The Resiliency Center, located at 153 South Main Street, was a swirl of activity, beginning at 11 am, anticipating the 1 pm arrival of Prince Charming and two princesses, Cinderella and Rapunzel.
The Royal Party grew out of a brainstorming session, said Resiliency Center Director Stephanie Cinque, on what to do over the holidays.
“We wanted something fun and light that brings people together in the community,” said Ms Cinque. Always a princess lover at heart, she suggested a Royal Party and advisory board member Scott Buchanan reportedly said, “Let’s go with it.”
Ms Porter-Willcox said she and Ms Donohue-Olivieri are with Emerald Sketch, an art therapy group that has provided healing to Newtown’s children over the past year, through art. The art therapy group now operates under the umbrella of The Resiliency Center of Newtown.
“Our focus is always on safety and relationships,” said Ms Porter-Willcox. The party’s theme was a focus on safety. Not only did the children make crowns and create a huge paper castle together, but magical wands and shields to guard themselves were also part of the day’s activities.
“We teach creative techniques with each project that we do. For example, double-handed scribbling balances both sides of the brains,” Ms Porter-Willcox explained. The techniques are always something the children can practice at home “and we give a little homework project for them to do, too,” she said.
For Ms Sokira, Monday was a day to provide support to the art therapy group through music, she said.
“Today was just a fun, community opportunity,” she said, noting that her musical magic disappeared as soon as Prince Charming poked his head in the door. “All the kids ran to him,” she laughed.
Invite A Princess, out of the Woodbridge area, includes Prince Charming (Tim Santillo), Cinderella (Kathryn Santillo), and Rapunzel (Samantha Phelan).
Kneeling to eye level with his mob of admirers, Prince Charming charmed the crowd, and then set up the music. All eyes were on the door, awaiting the arrival of the princesses.
“This is the third time we have worked with the children of Newtown this year,” said Mr Santillo. “We’ll be singing and mingling and hopefully have time to sing some Christmas carols with them today, too,” he said.
Then the two bejeweled and gowned ladies stepped into the room, and in a moment, excited girls and boys swarmed them.
Some children sat by shyly, but most were happy to sing and dance with Cinderella and Rapunzel, and even glide around the room with Prince Charming.
In addition to the thrill of visiting with the royal threesome, each child in attendance received a chocolate angel (and chocolate reindeer poo) made by Diane Buchanan, and enjoyed sweets donated by resident Lisa Bell. Each guest was also given a medal on a green ribbon, created by RLB Holdings of Greenwich. The medal is imprinted with The Resiliency Center logo encircled by the words Friendship, Hope, Love, and Kindness.
“The moms here get wellness bags from Community Health Initiative,” said Ms Cinque.
Resiliency Center staff members were pleased with the turnout at the Royal Party.
“It was better than I expected, for Christmas week,” Ms Cinque said.