BLOOMFIELD, NJ -- The summer months are busy for the Bloomfield Recreation staff and the participants of their programs, and that includes the Special Needs Program, which is looking forward to increased recreation activities tailor-made for Bloomfield children.

The wildly popular Care Station’ after-school programs will be wrapping up in June with an exciting final event, and in July, the ‘Station 2’ summer camp programs will offer great outlets for Bloomfield youth with special needs.

Earlier this year, the department received a $20,000 Recreational Opportunities For Individuals with Disabilities (ROID) grant from the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs. The grant was used for to fund the ‘Care Station’ after-school arts and cooking programs for Bloomfield school children with developmental disabilities.

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“We had maximum participation in both our cooking program ‘Chef it Up’ and our art therapy classes. We limit our class size to 10 so each child gets individualized instruction and supervision. It’s obvious the students loves the classes as we have had 10 kids in every class for the past five months. Parents love it as they see their children improving physically, socially and emotionally.” said John Baltz, Director of Special Needs at the Bloomfield Recreation Department. “Both ‘Care Station’ programs follow our inclusion model, with general education and special education children learning and socializing together. Like all of our programs, ‘Care Station’ places emphasis on positive reinforcement, social interaction and community awareness.”

Art therapy classes are offered at Carteret Elementary School through the Rutherford-based Art Kids Academy, and run Wednesdays and Thursdays from 4:00-5:00pm through June 15th. An art show is planned for Friday, June 15th from 6:00-8:00pm at the Civic Center.  Participants will be able to proudly display their artwork along with their classmates in gallery type environment.  

"The end of the year art exhibit is always a great way to end the school year,” said Michael Sceurman, Director of Parks, Recreation & Cultural Affairs. “The students love to share their work and their family and friends love to see them interact with other students and our dedicated program leaders. Our ‘Chef it Up’ program will also be coming to an end but not before they go on a trip to a nearby farm for a ‘food to table’ experience where they cook for themselves and their friends and family.”

Registration is currently open for the summer camp’s ‘Station 2’ program for children with special needs. Like ‘Care Station,’ it follows is an inclusion model where we strive for full student participation in camp activities such as sports, enrichment classes, art and crafts to name a few.  For children that might not be able to handle a full day, the Recreation Department offers a self-contained program, which allows for a shorter day from 9:00am-2:00pm.

“The Recreation Department does a great job of making sure Bloomfield youth with special needs are catered to, through their dedicated specialized counselors. These programs also stress fostering positive social interaction, which studies have shown helps participants in the interim and long-term,” said Mayor Michael Venezia.

Bloomfield Recreation also is amping up activities for ‘Horizons,’ its program for adults living in Bloomfield with special needs. They meet several times a month on Friday nights and the group go out to dinner and other social events around the area.

“All of the restaurants we’ve taken ‘Horizons’ participants to have been extremely accommodating. Nevada Diner is a favorite of the group but we also venture outside the borders of Bloomfield and eat in neighboring towns,” said Director Baltz. “This programs focuses on social skills and allows participants the opportunity to be independent but also have the support of friends and program supervisors when the need arises. It has become so popular with our adult population that participants email each other and use social media to boost attendance.  The more people in the program, the bigger the social network becomes for participants. These programs really work, and it is great to see our special needs population thriving!”

Anyone with questions about the Horizon program or summer camp ‘Station 2’ program is encouraged to contact Director Baltz at jbaltz@bloomfield.k12.nj.us or (973) 725-4485. ‘Canteen’ and ‘Horizons’ program permission forms are attached.