The City of Jersey City will host two upcoming dessert decorating classes as part of the Department and Recreation Youth Development’s expanded special needs programming.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“This December, we’re launching a new Special Needs Social Club to host events every Tuesday that offer socialization and organized activities for Jersey City’s children and young adults with special needs,” Mayor Steven Fulop said in a statement.
“Since expanding the Department of Recreation to include Youth Development, we have been successful in establishing new programs and enhancing existing recreation to be more inclusive of everyone’s abilities and interests, ultimately attracting more children to participate in skill-building experiences that help create a solid foundation for a prosperous future.”
On Thursday, Jersey City will host the first inclusive Holiday Dessert Decorating Class with special guest Mauro Castano from Carlo’s Bake Shop to celebrate the expansion.
The dessert decorating classes for individuals with special needs will take place on October 27 and November 4 from 4-6 p.m.
Ryan Magee, who spent a decade as a trained applied behavioral analyst therapist, is the city’s first special needs recreation programming specialist – putting him in charge of coordinating and implement these expanded programs.
“The vision of these programs is that no matter who you are, you have a purpose in this life, no matter your disability, and have a right to participate in community activities. With ongoing support and encouragement, the department truly believes anyone can have fun,” Magee added.
Current programming tailored to children and teens with special needs includes adaptive sports and social opportunities such as kickball, flag football, and bucket drumming.
The department will now offer at least one self-contained special needs program for every season, while incorporating more events, trips, and family-themed programming.
Each Recreation and Youth Development program includes activities to improve participants’ mental and physical wellness. Positive reinforcement from trained staff help boost participants’ confidence as they reach new milestones during each session.
All program participants will enjoy low-impact activities aimed at improving strength while reducing obesity and other health issues.
As a whole, the special needs programs seek to provide a source of positive youth development and recreational enjoyment within the community. Participants will use their skills to showcase their growth, creativity, and growing independence.
“We want to make sure all of our youth in Jersey City get to participate in enriching recreational and educational programs where they can simply be themselves while developing social skills, establishing meaningful friendships, and learning new abilities,” added Rec and Youth Development Director Lucinda McLaughlin.
The Department of Recreation and Youth Development’s Special Needs Programs currently include Bucket Drumming every Wednesday from 6:15 p.m. through 7 p.m., Holiday Dessert Decorating Class on October 27 and November 5 from 4 p.m. until 6 p.m., and Friday Night Kickball from 5 p.m. until 6:30 p.m.
Other upcoming programs include the Special Needs Social Club on Tuesdays from 5:30 p.m. until 7 p.m., where individuals with disabilities can meet up and engage in activities that will provide a space of their own to socialize and hang out.
More information and registration information can be found here.