Giving Back

"Young Athletes" Gives Clark's Special Needs Kids a Program to Call Their Own

539c7c391f916c7dcdcd_DSC_0236.JPG
Young athlete Logan Bloom with program coach Mary Lillis. Credits: Susan Roselli Bonnell
8234ae014189008c27db_DSC_0228.JPG
Max Jacobsen was having fun with balloons during the first "Young Athletes" class at Clark Recreation.  Credits: Susan Roselli Bonnell
539c7c391f916c7dcdcd_DSC_0236.JPG

CLARK, NJ – Clark Recreation held its first Young Athletes™ class on Saturday morning to the delight of its young participants and their parents.  The free five-week program provides organized sport and play for children with intellectual disabilities and is an offshoot of Special Olympics.  15 Clark youth are registered in the class that is designed to enhance the children's gross motor, intellectual, and social skills.

“My philosophy is ‘something for everyone’ and we are very excited to offer a program for special needs children,” Clark Recreation Director Ralph Bernardo said.

Jennifer Jacobson, whose son Max was happily engaged in a game, first approached Bernardo about a program designed specifically for special needs children.

Sign Up for E-News

“There’s not much to do with special needs kids,” said Jacobsen. “You can’t take them to regular gymnastics classes or do regular sports.  We were going to Rahway, to Cranford.  There wasn’t anything here. I asked Ralph about it.”

Clark Preschool teachers Mary Lillis and John Mongiello immediately volunteered to coach the program.  Lillis, who was recently named a district teacher of the year, teaches the district’s Special Education ABA class and Mongiello is the school’s gym teacher.

"After hearing about the program, John and I were more than happy to volunteer our time to have such a great program in the district for our students,” Lillis said.  “The ‘Young Athletes’ program is a wonderful opportunity for students with special needs to strengthen their gross motor and social skills, and more importantly come together with their peers to have fun!”

The children participate in a variety of gross motor skills including balance, jumping, throwing, catching, kicking, striking, walking, and running. The group was happily bouncing and chasing balloons. Parents and community volunteers help to run games and interact with the children.

“We truly look forward to the next few weeks of the 'Young Athletes' program and having these sessions impact our athletes and the community," Lillis said. 

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Clark

Upcoming Events

Sat, April 21, 10:00 AM

Cranford Community Center, Cranford

"All About Owls" Nature Presentation with The ...

Arts & Entertainment

Sat, April 21, 10:00 AM

Cranford Community Center, Cranford

"All About Owls" Nature Presentation with The ...

Arts & Entertainment

Sun, April 22, 9:00 AM

Temple Beth-El Mekor Chayim, Cranford

Rummage Sale

Green Home & Garden

Earth Day Rahway River Cleanup

April 19, 2018

All volunteers are invited to celebrate Earth Day with Boy Scout Troop 330, Cub Scout Pack 30 and members of the Rahway River Watershed Association, Rahway Environmental Commission and Clark Environmental Commission in a clean-up of the Rahway River on Saturday, April 21st (with a rain date of Sunday, April 22nd). The clean-up will focus on areas upstream and downstream of the dam ...

Cranford Man Dies after Wrong-Way Crash on Route 9

April 10, 2018

WOODBRIDGE, NJ – A Cranford man died after his car collided with another vehicle on Route 9 on Sunday.

Thomas McHugh, 88, was driving north in the southbound fast lane on Route 9, where he crashed head-on into another vehicle. On impact, one of the cars caught fire, according to Sgt. Jim Chessere of the Woodbridge Police Department.

 McHugh was taken from the scene to Robert ...

Thank You, St. Joseph's Volunteers

April 16, 2018

Thank You from St. Joseph Social Service Center

In recognition of National Volunteer Week, we would like to express our gratitude to the countless volunteers that serve the poor and homeless at St. Joseph Social Service Center in Elizabeth (http://www.sjeliz.org).  Whether you make a sandwich, collect toiletries, tutor in the job program, make soup, wrap Christmas gifts, donate food, ...

Obituaries

- Apr 11, 2018
Clark—Carleen Nevargic, 81, passed away peacefully on Wednesday, April 11, 2018 at her home ...
Read more