By Martie Thompson
Enlightening the community about Listening and Spoken Language (LSL) education and raising funds for Clarke Schools for Hearing and Speech are at the heart of the Kilwins Ice Cream Run. Founded in 2013 by the family of one of the first students of the Mandarin Clarke School, the race ends at Kilwins Jacksonville in the St. Johns Town Center. This Kilwins location is owned by the Stallings family, and daughter Haley is a successful graduate of Clarke.
This year’s race, open to the public, will be held March 30. According to Cynthia Robinson, co-director of Clarke School in Mandarin, more than 800 runners participated in 2018. The event includes a 1-mile run-walk, the signature 5k, and the Kiddie Dash, held after the other races and just for current students of the school.
“The area outside of Kilwins is filled with our sponsors,” Robinson said. “It’s like a street party. The highlight is the post-race Kilwins ice cream fest.”
According to Robinson, Clarke School has been in Jacksonville for 21 years, but the original schools, mostly in the Northeast, date back 150 years. The schools’ mission is to teach deaf and hard of hearing students to listen and talk. The aim is to have students on level with their hearing peers and mainstreamed into their neighborhood schools by kindergarten or first grade.
“It’s through the miracle of modern technology that we can do this,” Robinson said. “With the advances in hearing aids and cochlear implants, children are given full access to the spoken word. We hear with our brain. Our ears are just the path to get into the brain.”
Students may start at Clarke at a very early age. From birth to age three, the school has approximately two dozen children in early intervention services. Then there are the Toddler Twos, preschool, pre-k, and kindergarten/first grade classes, with a total of 30 – 35 students according to Robinson. Finally there are another two dozen students receiving services via telepractice throughout the state of Florida and another two dozen students receiving after-school services such as speech classes, evaluations or refresher classes.
“Haley Stallings was one of my first students at Clarke, back in 1998,” Robinson said. “She mainstreamed to her neighborhood school in kindergarten, but several years later, her family remained so appreciative of the services she had received at our school that they said they wanted to give something back. So they started the Kilwins Ice Cream Run and named Clarke School as beneficiary.”
The seventh annual Kilwins Ice Cream Run will take place on Saturday, March 30 at the St. Johns Town Center. The 5k is a timed event using a gun start with timing provided by Ultimate Racing. Visit www.clarkeschools.org/icecreamrun to register. Visit www.clarkeschools.org for more information about Clarke Schools.
Photo courtesy Clarke School