RARITAN TWP., NJ – Tomorrow will mark the culmination of a month-long effort at Reading-Fleming Intermediate School that began with Unity Day.
Students at RFIS have been raising money for Grateful Bites in Flemington and Riding with Heart since March 10, when they celebrated Unity Day with the theme “appreciating and embracing people with different abilities.”
Grateful Bites is the restaurant and bakery run by the non-profit Ability2Work, and provides training and jobs for the “differently-abled.” Pittstown-based Riding with Heart offers therapeutic horseback riding for those with a variety of challenges including autism and Down Syndrome.
The Unity Day assembly was facilitated by Ability2Work founder Karen Monroy. She provided a simulation for students of what it is like to be “differently-abled.”
On March 17, students participated in a fundraising activity called “stall day.” That’s when students bring in money, and instruction is stalled until teachers count all of it.
On March 27, motivational speaker Dr. Paul Wichansky - who has overcome the effects of cerebral palsy and hearing loss – led an assembly. His TED Talk can be viewed on YouTube.
“Whether it was through a monetary donation during the stall day fundraiser, participating in the spirit wear each day, designing and researching their class's selected well-known individual for the puzzle piece display, participating in the art contest focused on this theme, sitting with someone they may have never sat with at lunch before, or showing a kind gesture or empathy for another, each student made a difference,” said Kathryn Lemerich, the school’s vice principal.
At 9:30 tomorrow morning, school staff and art contest participants whose work was selected to be displayed at Grateful Bites or Riding with Heart will join their families at the restaurant for a presentation of the money raised for the two organizations. Grateful Bites is located on Route 12 here.
“We encourage our community to come see the artwork at Grateful Bites and Riding with Heart,” Lemerich said. She hopes spreading the message of appreciating and embracing those with different abilities will continue for years to come.