More than a dozen girls from John F. Kennedy School for special needs students in Newark indulged in a spa day on Thursday morning at the new location for Jazz House Kids.
Makeup artists from Montclair's own Bobbi Brown studios, manicurists and masseuses were on hand to pamper every need of the students and parents.
Student Dai-Jonia Sumler, who had her makeup done and nails painted a bright pink, said it felt good to come out and indulge with friends.
“You feel real girlie?” asked Dai-Jonia’s mother Shanta.
Dai-Jonia shook her head emphatically.
Founder and President of Jazz House Kids Melissa Walker, a Montclair-based organization which teachers music to local students, said the idea for the event, called Something Wonderful!, arose after the organization’s recent tenth anniversary celebration.
In October, Jazz House Kids hosted a bash at Newark’s New Jersey Performing Arts Center which featured students and jazz artists. In addition, a choir of students from JFK School also took the stage.
“You had to see them light up the stage when these twenty kids came out and did a really beautiful rendition of [‘Seasons of Love’] from ‘Rent,’” said Walker. “I’ll tell you, there wasn’t a dry eye in the crowd.”
Walker said Bobbi Brown, owner of the cosmetic line by the same name and with a studio in Montclair, wanted to do something more for the students from JFK. So the two joined with Montclair developer Steve Plofker and other local businesses to sponsor the event and make it happen.
“There are challenges in everyone’s life,” said Walker, “but they have that extra challenge in their own life, so [we] really wanted to give them a day of beauty.”
Once the idea was hatched, Walker said there was no holding back.
“We thought if we are going to get all dolled up, let’s do nails, let’s get a massage and let’s make it a day of beauty and health!”
In Jazz House’s new location at 347 Bloomfield Ave. that day, the students and parents could first sit and have their lips, eyeshadow and blush done by makeup artists from Bobbi Brown Studios; then decide among a rainbow of colors to have their nails painted by Montclair Nails; and then finally relax with a massage from Just 1 Touch Massage Therapy.
The students were thrilled to see one of their teachers, Lynada Staggers-Marotta, a speech therapist at the school, also take part in the event. Staggers-Marotta said the event was a complete success, and she could “see their faces light up” throughout the day.
“It’s a perfect opportunity to increase their self-esteem, to let them know they have value,” said Staggers-Marotta. “By adding a little bit, that helps them bring themselves up in the world.”