Weird Kids on the Block: New Group Offers Safe Haven
What began as a single meet up for all the kids that are different, quickly became a multifaceted group with monthly meet ups and small get togethers along the way. Serving LGBTQ+ kids, kids on the spectrum, those that are into art, gamers, and more, Weird Kids Meet Up of North Alabama is on a mission to change the definition of the word weird.
The Birth of Weird Kids Meet Up of North Alabama
Jessica Cotton is the owner of Shenanigans Comedy Theatre in Huntsville and started the group to help out fellow “weirdos.”
“My mantra has always been weird is my favorite compliment, so my kids see it as a badge of honor instead of an insult. We are weird at our house, so I knew there were other kids that probably needed a self-esteem boost, especially after COVID and the shut downs.” Cotton said.
Taking the idea and running with it, Cotton planned a get together open to all “weird” kids, tweens, and teens in the North Alabama area. With game tables, an art and coloring area, and even a movie playing for those that don’t feel like talking, the Weird Kids Meet Up had something for everyone to enjoy. Despite being unsure of what to expect, Cotton said over 30 kids made it to the first one and that it was so successful it grew into a Facebook group.
“The first 30 mins it’s quiet then after two hours, they are shrieking. Teens are shrieking and the kids are having a good time. Everyone is smiling and that makes me happy,” Cotton said.
From the one initial event, the group now offers hang outs one Sunday a month from 4 p.m. – 7 p.m. with smaller get-togethers along the way. Cotton said the group has become a place for members to invite each other to the mall or the library for fun in between the meetings – a true safe haven for weird kids.
“Being in the school system I am seeing this rising of kids that are expressing themselves more and just being their own people – being weird compared to their peers. We really aren’t weird in terms of we’re the only one like ourselves, we just may not all be in the same room. There’s tons of us. There are way more weird kids than there are normal, we just aren’t all together,” Cotton said.
How to Get Involved
If you have a kiddo that meets the criteria and is interested in attending the next Weird Kids Meet Up, Cotton said the best way to keep up with upcoming events is by joining the Weird Kids Meet Up of North Alabama Facebook page. Cotton says all the events are free and open to the public, with snacks and drinks available for purchase.
Cotton says parents that are interested in holding their own events or helping out with the group can also get in touch by calling 256-640-3296.
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Lauren Lee is a longtime dog mom transitioning to life as a rookie human mom. She is married to her college sweetheart, Josh, and they welcomed their son, Oliver, to the world in June. Lauren is a Jacksonville State University alumni and has been a published writer since she was sixteen. In her free time, Lauren enjoys reading, writing, knitting and hiking with her two dogs.