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Oak Ridge Park Hosts Bark Now Walk for Autism Speaks

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The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders encourages families and their furry friends to enjoy a day outdoors in support of autism awareness by participating in the North/Central NJ Bark Now walk for Autism Speaks on Saturday, June 2 at Oak Ridge Park in Clark.

“Statistics show that the number of children being diagnosed with Autism has grown to surpass the  number of children affected by diabetes, AIDD, cancer, cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis,  muscular dystrophy  or Down syndrome combined,” said Freeholder Chairman Alexander Mirabella. “The Freeholder Board is proud to support the Bark Now walk, and we encourage County residents to get involved.”

Bark Now is a unique fundraising event that offers a safe and fun day for families impacted by autism. Sponsored by the national organization Autism Speaks, the day includes a two to three-mile dog walk, light refreshments for both humans and their companions and Autism Speaks Family Services for families and participants affected by autism.

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Those who desire to participate can get involved in the event in a number of ways. Family and friends can fundraise by forming teams to walk in the event or by sponsoring an individual walker. Volunteers are also needed to staff the event by checking in participants, providing encouragement at water stops and cleaning up after the event.

To register a team or individual, or to get involved in any aspect of the event visit barknow.autismspeaks.org/north/centralnj. The top five fundraisers will be awarded two tickets to the performance of their choice at the Union County Performing Arts Center, an organization that has worked with Freeholder Chairman Mirabella to develop a Sensory Friendly Theater series, making plays accessible to children and teenagers on the autism spectrum.

Autism is a general term used to describe a group of complex developmental brain disorders caused by a combination of genetic and environmental influences. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by social and behavioral challenges, as well as repetitive behaviors.

An estimated 1 in 88 children in the U.S. is on the autism spectrum with New Jersey amassing the second highest prevalence rate in the nation at 1 in 49 children (1 in 29 boys and 1 in 172 girls).

All Bark Now proceeds will support Autism Speaks’ work, both locally and nationally, to increase awareness about the growing autism health crisis, fund innovative autism research and advocate for the needs of individuals with autism and their families in Union County and beyond.

For additional information contact Natalie Pineiro, Union County Office of Public Information at 908-527-4035 or via email at npineiro@ucnj.org.

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