The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders is pleased to announce a series of programs and events throughout the summer and fall for residents with special needs and their families, coordinated through the new Office for People with Special Needs in collaboration with community partners.

“Union County is committed to providing every resident with more opportunities to enjoy activities with friends, neighbors and families,” said Freeholder Chairman Sergio Granados. “Our new Office for People with Special Needs builds on our existing programs with new activities and events that include more residents in these enriching social experiences, and help us forge more bonds with community partners.”

The Office for People with Special Needs is part of the Division of Outreach and Advocacy in the Union County Department of Human Services. Pre-registration for special needs programs is required. To access the online registration system, visit ucnj.org/opsn-reg and look for the section titled “Recreation Programs for People with Special Needs.”

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The upcoming social calendar begins on Saturday, August 4 with the first Sensory Friendly movie sponsored by the Freeholder Board, a screening of the newly released movie Hotel Transylvania 3 at AMC Jersey Gardens 20, located at The Mills at Jersey Gardens, 651 Kapkowski Road in Elizabeth. Tickets are available only through ucnj.org/opsn-reg at a cost of $5 each, and a food voucher comes with each ticket. The movie begins at 10:30 a.m. and concludes at 1:00 p.m.

The Carnival for People with Special Needs takes place on Saturday, August 18 at the Warinanco Sports Center at Warinanco Park in Roselle, from 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. This is a free event designed to be a fun family outing for all, including games, music, a magician, a balloon artist and food.

Union County is also partnering with the New York Red Bulls to support the Special Olympics on Fireworks Night, August 26 at 7:00 p.m., when the team takes on D.C. United. A limited number of tickets are available for $25 each only through the online registration system at ucnj.org/opsn-reg. Each ticket comes with a $10 food voucher. Fireworks will follow the game.

The annual Barn Dance for Special Needs Individuals is scheduled for November 10 at Masker’s Barn, beginning at 3:00 p.m. The event features a live band, square dance caller, hay rides and more. Masker’s Barn is part of the Deserted Village of Feltville, located in Union County’s Watchung Reservation.

Weekly classes and programs offered through the Office for People with Special Needs include karate at the Clark Recreation Center, every Thursday evening from August 23 to September 20. Classes for two age groups are available, from 7:00 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. for participants age 7 to 15, and from 8:00 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. for participants aged 16 and older. A one-time fee of $12.00 will be charged for all five classes.

Yoga classes for special needs teens and young adults will begin this fall at the Trailside Nature and Science Center in Mountainside. The program will run every Monday from September 10 to October 8, from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. A one-time fee of $8 applies upon registration.

Two ceramics classes for participants age 13 and up will be held in collaboration with the Linden Department of Recreation at 330 Helen Street in Linden, on September 18 and 25, from 7:00 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. Participants aged 13 and older are eligible to participate. A one-time fee of $8 applies.

For the first time, Union County is also offering a Sensory Friendly summer camp for people with special needs. The camp will consist of a weeklong program of outdoor and indoor activities based at the Trailside Nature and Science Center, in the Watchung Reservation in Mountainside.

Registration for the camp is limited. For information on the registration process, contact the Office for People with Special Needs at 908-527-4781.

The Office for People with Special Needs is the first such office in New Jersey. It was established as part of Chairman Granados’s 2018 Moving Union County Forward initiatives for individual empowerment, education, diversity and inclusion.

To register and to get more details on any program offered through the Office For Special Needs visit online at ucnj.org  or contact the Office Coordinator, Manuel Ramirez at mramirez@ucnj.org or call 908-527-4781. 

For all Union County programs and services visit ucnj.org, call the Public Info Line, 877-424-1234, email info@ucnj.org or use the online Contact Form.

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