The ARC of Essex County received a $7,500 grant from Wachovia Wells Fargo Foundation, to support an innovative learning program for infants and toddlers from birth to age three with Down syndrome and other cognitive impairments.

The Stepping Stones Early Intervention program is unique because it creates individualized instruction and therapies that aid in the development of cognitive, physical, social and communication skills. This is accomplished with the assistance of more than 60 volunteers who are drawn from the community. Both trained volunteers and professional staff work together with the families toward clearly defined student goals.

“It is so important to reach children with Down syndrome and other cognitive impairments starting at a young age – and this grant money will assist us in continuing to deliver programs such as Stepping Stones Early Intervention Program to the community,” said Kristy Hartman, Director of Fundraising and Communications for the The ARC of Essex County.

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Parental involvement is an integral part of the program. Parents involved with the Stepping Stones Early Intervention Program meet regularly in support groups facilitated by a social worker. They also participate in instructional and therapy sessions and attend workshops on current issues related to parenting and child development.

“The Stepping Stones program has helped hundred of parents and children living in the Essex County area – and it was a priority for us to provide funding to ensure ARC has the necessary resources to keep it going,” said Lucia Gibbons, Northern New Jersey regional president for Wachovia, a Wells Fargo Company.

Picture Caption: On behalf of the Wachovia Wells Fargo Foundation, Shirley Terrell (left), a Wachovia store manager in Livingston and Azhoon F. Abdulghani (right), a Wachovia district manager, present a $7,500 grant to Judy Bellina, Coordinator, Stepping Stones Early Intervention Program and Kristy Hartman, Director of Fundraising and Communications for the The ARC of Essex County. The grant will support the Stepping Stones Early Intervention Program, an innovative learning program for infants and toddlers from birth to age three with Down syndrome and other cognitive impairments.