Ribbon is Cut--New Therapeutic Preschools Open in Livingston's Horizon School

(From left to right) CPNJ Board Chair Darren Burns, Marsha Atkind, Executive Director of the Healthcare Foundation, CPNJ CEO Jim McCreath, Healthcare Foundation board members Beth Levithan and Natalie Peck, and Cheryl Maiello and Sharon Harris of Novartis attend the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new preschool classrooms at Horizon School in Livingston. Credits: supplied by CPNJ

LIVINGSTON, NJ – Cerebral Palsy of North Jersey (CPNJ) unveiled two new therapeutic preschools on Nov. 13 at its Horizon School, located at 51 Old Road in Livingston. The classrooms were made possible by a grant from The Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey as well as support from Wells Fargo, the Working Parents Connection Novartis Employee Resource Group, The Thomas & Agnes Carvel Foundation and Willis.

The new classrooms feature state-of-the-art therapy equipment, including: therapy swings suspended from the ceiling; an array of communication boards; a treehouse with darkened space beneath to provide vision therapy; and cutting-edge educational technology that includes iPads, interactive whiteboards and the TAP-it computer system. The classrooms also boast hand-painted murals, and children-sized sinks and toilets and a dress-up area for developing life skills.

“Our goal was not simply to renovate these rooms, but to create a special needs preschool program that fully integrated our therapeutic and educational goals,” said Linda Peroff, Horizon School’s coordinator of therapy.

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The schools adhere to the “push-in” model of delivering therapy, so rather than removing a student to provide therapy, therapists remain in the classroom as part of a classroom team and incorporate their “session” into the class lesson. The new classrooms offer the space to maximize the use of the push-in model and to break students out into a variety of specialized work areas.

“This is a dream come true for us and for our students, and we’re so thankful to those who made it possible,” Peroff said.

According to the CPNJ website, CPNJ is dedicated to enhancing the lives of people with disabilities and other special needs by supporting personal growth, independence and participation in the community.

CPNJ was founded in 1953 by the parents of children with cerebral palsy who wanted better services for their loved ones. In the beginning it operated out of donated space in the basement of Orange Memorial Hospital. Since then, the organization has grown and today it is a $27 million dollar organization with more than 500 staff members at 14 program sites serving more than 1,400 infants, children and adults with disabilities.

Horizon School offers a specialized preschool program for students ages 3-5 with multiple disabilities. The school offers classroom instruction supplemented with physical, occupational and speech therapy as well as aquatic therapy in an on-site therapy pool. For students with impaired vision, the school offers one of the only vision sensory rooms in New Jersey. Students also enjoy an outdoor preschool area and a 2,500-square-foot accessible play park.

CPNJ provides all manner of children’s services. It delivers therapy in the public schools, operates a private school for children with disabilities, and provides in-home supports tailored to each child. CPNJ also offers after school programs, nursing services and provides support in the areas of psychology, psychiatry, assistive technology, and augmentative and alternative communication. To assist students who are homebound for health reasons or are awaiting a school placement after early intervention services end, the school delivers services directly in the home to make sure children does not regress in any area.

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