Government

Berkeley Heights Gets $25K Grant for Inclusive Playground Equipment for Children with Disabilities

8d947587b41a23511c17_Mattano_Park_inclusive_playground.jpg
Members of the Freeholder Board gather with the Elizabeth community to celebrate the county’s first all-inclusive playground in Mattano Park. Credits: Jim Lowney/County of Union
8d947587b41a23511c17_Mattano_Park_inclusive_playground.jpg

BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ — Berkeley Heights is getting a $25,470 “Level the Playing Field” grant from Union County, the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders announced Thursday.

The new grant program was designed to help every Union County municipality provide inclusive playgrounds to children with disabilities as part of Freeholder Chairman Sergio Granados’s 2018 Union County HEART initiative for community outreach and advocacy, according to press release from the county.

All 21 municipalities in the county received part of a total of $500,000 in Level the Playing Field awards, funded through the Union County Open Space, Recreation and Historic Preservation Trust Fund:

Sign Up for E-News

Berkeley Heights        $25,470.00     

Clark                          $25,470.00     

Cranford                     $25,470.00     

Elizabeth                    $25,470.00     

Fanwood                    $15,000.00     

Garwood                    $25,470.00     

Hillside                        $20,000.00     

Kenilworth                 $25,470.00     

Linden                         $25,470.00     

Mountainside             $25,470.00     

New Providence         $25,470.00     

Plainfield                     $25,470.00     

Rahway                      $25,470.00     

Roselle                       $25,470.00     

Roselle Park               $25,470.00     

Scotch Plains              $25,470.00     

Springfield                 $25,470.00     

Summit                       $25,470.00     

Union                         $17,010.00     

Westfield                   $15,000.00     

Winfield Park              $25,470.00     

“Every child should be able to enjoy a playground in or near their neighborhood, and participate in enriching sensory experiences with friends, family and neighbors from all walks of life,” Granados said in press release. Granados launched Level the Playing Field in 2017 while serving as vice chairman. “We would like this program to become a statewide model for counties and local governments, showing how we can work together and help all families make healthy outdoor play a lifetime habit.”

“Once all of the projects are completed, Union County will be the first county in New Jersey to have an inclusive playground for every municipality within its borders,” added Granados. “Based on our research, we may also be the first county in the U.S. with inclusive playgrounds for every municipality.”

“Through Level the Playing Field, the Freeholder Board continues to deliver on the Trust Fund’s promise of expanding and improving recreational opportunities for all county residents,” said Freeholder Alexander Mirabella, Chairman of the Trust Fund, in the release.“The benefits of inclusive playgrounds ripple out to include families and caregivers, helping to forge closer bonds within the whole community.”

Letters to all 21 municipalities announcing the availability of Level the Playing Field funding were mailed last fall, and all 21 responded, according to the county.

Many Union County parks already feature playgrounds with inclusive features, the county said. In 2016 the county opened its first fully accessible playground, located in Mattano Park in Elizabeth.

In another recent project focusing on people with disabilities, last fall the Freeholder Board broke ground on Union County’s first all-inclusive Sensory Trial. The new 0.3 mile loop in the Watchung Reservation includes a Braille trail with rope guides and nature-themed play structures, designed to be enjoyed by all ages and abilities.

Other Union County programs for people with disabilities include the Sensory Friendly Theatre series sponsored by the Freeholder Board at the Union County Performing Arts Center, and programs at the County’s Ulrich Swimming Pool, Watchung Stables and Trailside Nature and Science Center.

The Freeholder Board also provides funding for special events such as annual fishing derbies, an ice skating social, summer carnival and barn dance, as well as programs for popular activities including golf, karate, yoga and volleyball.

UC HEART stands for “Empowering, Advocating for, Reaching and Teaching others.” In addition to the new Level the Playing field grant program, UC HEART includes creation of the first Office for People with Special Needs in New Jersey.

The new office is charged with improving recreational and social opportunities, reaching out to community groups and other stakeholders and identifying new opportunities for engaging people with special needs.

More information about the Office for People with Special Needs is available on the County website, ucnj.org.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Berkeley Heights

TAPinto Spotlight on Business Features New Providence Dentistry

July 17, 2018

NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - TAPinto "Summer Spotlight on Business" features local businesses and their owners who are important to our communities. Follow this column to receive a fresh perspective on small business owners and their unique needs while shining a spotlight on their stories.

This edition features New Providence Dentistry, operated by Dr. Beth Herko and her staff of ...

Avoiding 10% Tax Penalty

Do you want access to money from your retirement accounts but aren't sure of the real costs involved?

Most retirement accounts have a set age requirement you must reach before making penalty-free income distributions, which is usually 59.5 but can sometimes be as early as age 50. If you decide to access your accounts earlier, you could face penalties ranging from 10%-25%, which is not ...

Enjoy a Lifetime of Discovery in Union County Parks

July 18, 2018

July is National Parks and Recreation Month, and Union County residents are invited to celebrate this year by exploring “undiscovered” programs and activities found throughout the nearly 6,200 acres of the Union County parks system.

“Union County was one of the very first counties in the United States to establish its own county-based park system for nature conservation and ...

Union County Honored for History Projects

ELIZABETH, NJ - The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders is pleased to announce that two national achievement recognitions for history projects have been presented to the Union County Office of Cultural & Heritage Affairs, a division of the Department of Parks and Recreation.

“Union County is rich in history, and this Freeholder Board is committed to engaging the public with ...

Union County College Foundation’s 3rd “Close the Gap” Campaign Surpasses Goal

CRANFORD, NJ – With over 150 guests and volunteers in attendance, the Union County College Foundation surpassed their goal and raised nearly $55,000 at their 3rd Annual Close the Gap Campaign cocktail reception. Held on July 11, in the Richel Student Commons at the College’s Cranford campus, this campaign was developed by a small group of dedicated community volunteers to support the ...

ReNew Salon and Spa Welcomes Senior Stylist Joan Mormilo

GILLETTE, NJ - ReNew Salon and Spa welcomes Senior Stylist Joan Mormilo to their staff. Mormilo brings with her over 20 years of excellent customer service in the salon and spa industry.

She has extensive product knowledge, focuses on keeping up-to-date on industry standards and practices, believes in mentoring young stylists, and is a team player who strives to ...

Geoffrey the Giraffe Moves In To New Brunswick Children's Hospital

July 12, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Over a stretch of nearly 70 years, Geoffrey the Giraffe at Toys R Us stores was the symbol of happy times for generations of children, and now he may provide those same feelings for children coming to a hospital.

"From this day forward, Geoffrey stands tall in our lobby to encourage our smallest patients to smile when they enter our facilities," said John ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_c8cb6b45d2b342be3cbb_nancy_ori

Sat, July 21, 10:30 AM

New Providence Memorial Library, New Providence

Cuba: Observations of a Photographer

Arts & Entertainment Travel

Sat, July 21, 10:30 AM

New Providence Memorial Library, New Providence

Cuba: Observations of a Photographer at NPML

Arts & Entertainment

Sun, July 22, 2:00 PM

Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary, Bernardsville

NJ Audubon: Moths and other Pollinators

Education Green

Carousel_image_634bcda860ed17650f72_93a8625c-ce9d-413f-a61e-4b2df4fe0604

Tue, July 24, 3:00 PM

Grillestone Restaurant , Scotch Plains

Hear the Story of Amelia Earhart, America's Most ...

Arts & Entertainment Food & Drink

Carousel_image_e6c7d5b8a558926ee4c5_8e2f7c3f3d7547130a87_swim_team_2

Tue, July 24, 5:30 PM

Summit YMCA, Summit

Summit Area YMCA Swim Team Tryouts July 24th

Health & Wellness

Special June Episode of 'Berkeley Heights Here & Now' Features 6th Annual Street Fair

BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ – The Berkeley Heights Communications Committee (BHCC) today announced a special edition of Berkeley Heights Here & Now is available on the Township website, www.berkeleyheightstwpnj.gov.

 

The special episode features the 6th Annual Berkeley Heights Street Fair held on June 24 and includes onsite interviews with attending residents/visitors, event ...

And Over Here is the Dining Hall 2

My very first job in admissions was while I was still an undergraduate myself as a tour guide.  Very early on they indoctrinated us with some tricks of the trade.  It’s a dining hall, not a cafeteria.  A residence hall, not a dorm.  If you have to divulge some negative bit of information, sandwich it between two positives.  There were instructions for glossing over ...

Women Have Special Financial Needs That Advisors Overlook

Women have special financial needs that advisors overlook in two ways: 1) advisors don’t always acknowledge the different planning needs women have and 2) advisors don’t always communicate well with female clients – especially if the client comes to a meeting with her husband. It’s very common for a male advisor to spend much or most of the face time in meetings talking to ...

5 Simple Ways to Save Water this Summer

According to the L.A. Times, the average American uses an estimated 98 gallons of water EACH day.  

Here are five simple ways you can save water, to help you conserve water this summer and take some pressure off of your drains.

1. Unless you are using it, turn the faucet off. How many of us still leave the water running while we shave or brush our teeth?According to ...