Thanks to funding from a Union County Heart Grant, The Gateway Family YMCA and The Jardine Academy had the opportunity to collaborate on a Specialized Arts program at the Rahway Branch YMCA, located at 1564 Irving Street in Rahway, NJ.

The YMCA offers a Specialized Arts Inclusive Learning (SAIL) program and views the arts as a creative outlet in which the uniqueness and individuality of each artist is celebrated, regardless of physical or cognitive abilities. The Jardine Academy, located in Cranford, NJ, is an approved private school of the New Jersey Department of Education.  The academy provides elementary and secondary education for children and young adults, ages 3-12, with multiple disabilities.

Over the course of several weeks, the YMCA and The Jardine Academy worked together to provide the students of 12 classrooms with an opportunity to create their class’s painting masterpiece.  “Our goal was to provide each student with an opportunity to create and explore their artistic talents in an atmosphere that is fun, inspiring and supportive while offering opportunities for increased activity and social engagement – thereby boosting their overall spiritual, mental and physical experience,” stated Krystal R. Canady, CEO, The Gateway Family YMCA.

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“The concept of the project was to create a painting/collage that expresses each individual’s method of moving forward,” stated Rodger D. Koerber, Branch Executive Director, The Gateway Family YMCA – Rahway Branch.  “Each student has a different means of mobility, whether it is walking, walking with the aid of crutches or a walker or using a wheelchair.”  The paintings were created by putting the paint color choice of the student on the bottom of their feet, the wheels of a walker or the wheels of their chair and have them “move forward” over the canvas.  The end result was 12 unique paintings/collages that are proudly displayed on the walls of the Jardine Academy’s cafeteria. 

The Gateway Family YMCA is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, community service organization of caring staff and volunteers dedicated to strengthening the foundations of community and stands For Youth Development, For Healthy Living and For Social Responsibility.  The Gateway Family YMCA impacts the community by providing quality services to people of all ages, races, faith or incomes. The Y doesn’t just strengthen bodies – it strengthens people, families and communities.  

For more information about community programs and services provided by The Gateway Family YMCA – Rahway Branch visit www.tgfymca.org or contact the Rahway Branch at Rahwayinfo@tgfymca.org or 732-388-0057.