Second Annual Autism Walk Raises Money for Passaic Valley Program

Over 500 attendees took part in the second annual autism walk held at Passaic Valley High School on April 23. Credits: Tina Pappas
The puzzle piece banner was made by Passaic Valley's autism program students and general ed art students for the second annual autism walk held on April 23. Credits: Tina Pappas
Pictured (from left) is PV board member Sam Yodice, Little Falls Mayor James Damiano, Passaic County Clerk Kristin Corrado, PV superintendent Dr. JoAnn Cardillo and Woodland Park Mayor Keith Kazmark. Credits: Tina Pappas
Pictured are members of the Little Falls Fire Department's Eagle Rescue Squad. The squad donated water bottles for the event. Credits: Tina Pappas
New computers are shown inside one of the autism program classrooms at Passaic Valley High School Credits: Tina Pappas
A living space area was recently added to Passaic Valley High School's autism program's classroom in order to teach life skills. Credits: Tina Pappas
A kitchen area is located in one of the classrooms at Passaic Valley High School's autism program. The program teaches life skills to students in the program. Credits: Tina Pappas

LITTLE FALLS, NJ - Passaic Valley High School was the site where many laced up their walking shoes and took part in the second annual "Autism Walk" on April 23. The event was organized to help raise support, awareness and funding for the high school's autism program, now in its second year.

Over 500 participants comprised of students, staff, and members of the community, donated their time during a sunny morning where they transformed into foot soldiers. Walkers of all ages, many of who have been personally affected by autism, sported their autism awareness T-shirts and took to the outdoor track. The goal was to circle the track six times, equaling one and a half miles.

According to Dr. JoAnn Cardillo, superintendent, students and other attendees signed up for a minimum of a $5 donation to take part in the race. Over $6,000 was raised at the event, with more donations still coming in.

Sign Up for E-News

"Donors gave anywhere between $5 and $100," Cardillo said. "Each participant received an autism bracelet for the walk. The tours we had of the new classrooms really showed how the money is being spent."

Students enrolled in the high school's program worked with regular education art students in creating a puzzle piece banner, which hung on the fence by the track's entrance. Local sponsors like Manhattan Bagel in Totowa, donated proceeds from bagels and coffee throughout the day. The Little Falls Fire Department's Eagle Rescue Squad donated water bottles.

Amy Pellegrini, secretary of student athletics and activities, came up with the idea for the event. As the mother of 14-year-old Zachary, who has autism and is enrolled in the program, she thought would be a fun way to raise money.

"We lucked out with the great weather once again," she said. "It's great to see everyone come out again and I hope to see the walk continue to grow each year."

According to Claire Arvin, behavior specialist, the autism program began two years ago and has expanded thanks to additional funding from events like the walk, which goes towards the community based instruction. The program consults with the Bergen County Board of Special Services and there are currently 15 students enrolled this year, four of which are out-of-district and tuition based.  The first students scheduled to graduate from the program will be with the class of 2019.

"The funding goes into the program to give students experiences out in the community," Arvin explained. "They get gym memberships and other instructional needs, such as iPads. They learn to improve communication and get exposure for prevocational work. Once they turn 16, they are offered internships as well."

The program also offers therapeutic recreation. A recent outing at 360 Fitness in Fairfield, had students taking part in fun physical challenges, supervised by PVHS teachers, teacher assistance, including the gym's instructors.

"One of our students loved it so much that we expanded it to be included as part of the regular activities," Arvin added. "We expose the students to many other activities, such as art, and we're able to purchase supplies through this funding."

The program also opened two new classrooms this year that were made possible through the high school's budget. The classrooms were spotlighted during tours after the walk. A slide presentation was also given, which highlighted many aspects of the program.

"We have computers, exercise equipment and a living space area, where students learn life skills and independence. There is an area where students learn kitchen basics," she noted.

Cardillo added that the program continues to grow and the money raised from the walk is a great help.

"The walk has certainly become an annual event here at PV," she added. "We're looking forward to another activity this week with the program for our courtyard beautification project. Our autism students will be working again with our regular education students." 


TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Passaic Valley

Officials Say Recently Passed County Budget Built on 'Fiscally Sound Policies'

March 19, 2018

PATERSON, NJ – Saying it reflects “fiscally sound policies, strong budgetary flexibility, proactive increases to manage volatile expense line items, including significant reserves for workers’ compensation, health benefits, and liability insurance, and an overall net debt of 1% of market value,” the Passaic County Board of Chosen Freeholders adopted the 2018 budget on ...

Upcoming Events

Sat, March 24, 10:15 AM

Totowa Public Library, Totowa

Mindful Saturdays

Health & Wellness

Sat, April 28, 8:00 AM

College of St. Elizabeth, Morristown

Conference and Resource Fair Promotes Advocacy ...

Education Giving Back

Sat, May 12, 3:00 PM

Memorial Auditorium at Montclair State University, Montclair

Balli di Primavera

Arts & Entertainment Education

Tue, May 15, 7:00 PM

Clifton Public Library, Clifton

Bariatric Seminar-Weight Loss That Works

Health & Wellness

Kidde Recalls Dual Sensor Smoke Alarms Due to Risk of Failure to Alert

March 22, 2018

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has announced that Kidde has recalled dual sensor smoke alarms due to risk of failure to alert consumers to a fire.
This recall involves models PI2010 and PI9010 of Kidde dual sensor (photoelectric and ionization) smoke alarms. “KIDDE” is printed on the front center of the smoke alarm. The model number and date code are printed on the ...