Health & Wellness

Local Adults with Disabilities Shine During National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

7f63430faf40a5824e67_CAU_Natl_Dis_Awar_Mo_1.JPG
Sunnah Bilal Shakir (center), a person with developmental disabilities, poses with Jennifer Lebowitz and Shantena Fleming of Community Access Unlimited.
d8c485e9aa0e4c234d0a_CAU_Natl_Dis_Awar_Mo_2.JPG
April Verducci (left), a person with developmental disabilities, poses with Yolanda Atkinson, a CAU behaviorist who works closely with her.
7f63430faf40a5824e67_CAU_Natl_Dis_Awar_Mo_1.JPG

ELIZABETH, NJ - Two members of Community Access Unlimited with developmental disabilities are shining this month as they and the agency celebrate National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. Both are prime examples of this year's theme for the month, "See Me For Me."

National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month was created in 1987 to “increase public awareness of the needs and potential of Americans with developmental disabilities." Since then the focus of the month has shifted to the importance of inclusion and living life side by side, which rests at the core of CAU's mission.

Sunnah Bilal Shakir, 27, for a long time was very disinterested and disengaged. However, working with CAU staff, Shakir recently has blossomed, becoming more interactive, according to Jennifer Lebowitz, a CAU behaviorist. 

Sign Up for E-News

She attends CAU's Academy for Continuing Education, taking classes in theater, card-making, and jewelry. She recently sang in a Cabaret performance staged by the agency and is cast as Miss Mary in CAU's annual musical that allows actors with and without disabilities to perform side by side. In addition, Shakir is very active in her church, attending mass several times a week and singing in the choir.

"She's actively participating in the community and doing things that make her feel good about herself," Lebowitz said. "She's finding out who she is."

"I love being a member of Community Access," Shakir said. "Singing makes me feel happy. I also like to learn."

April Verducci, 25, came to CAU after living in a psychiatric facility. When CAU behaviorist Yolanda Atkinson began working with her she was non-verbal and disinterested. Now she is speaking, taking care of herself and interacting with her roommates, according to Atkinson.

"It's amazing to see her now, how verbal and interactive she is," Atkinson said. "She's added sight words and her vocabulary skills have greatly expanded."

"I like being a member of Community Access," Verducci said. "If I have a problem, I call my staff. I like to come to music class.

"Tomorrow is karaoke," she added with a big smile.

"At Community Access Unlimited we are committed to enabling our members to meet their fullest potential, live a fulfilling and integrated life within the community and be recognized and appreciated for who they are as people, rather than labeled by their disability," said Tracy LeBaron, managing director of behavioral services. "Sunnah and April, and all the progress they have made with us are shining examples of that."

Community Access Unlimited (CAU) is a statewide Union County-based nonprofit providing support programs and services to adults with disabilities as well as at-risk youth to enable them to live independently in the community, providing support in areas including housing, vocational skills, and life-skills training, education, advocacy, and recreation.

For more information about CAU and its services, contact us by phone at 908.354.3040, online at www.caunj.org or by mail at 80 West Grand Street, Elizabeth, NJ 07202.

 

TAPintoElizabeth.net is Elizabeth’s free daily news source. Sign up for our daily eNews and follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TAPElizabeth and Twitter @TAPElizabeth. 

Download the TAPinto App!   Click here for Android.  Click here for iOS.

 

TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News

Roselle/Roselle Park

Upcoming Events

Sat, April 28, 7:00 PM

Hilton Garden Inn, Springfield Township

YP Honors: The Royal Ball 2018

Arts & Entertainment Food & Drink Giving Back Other

Sun, April 29, 3:30 PM

Codey Arena, West Orange

Girls Try Hockey Free Clinic

Sports

Sat, May 5, 12:00 PM

Kenilworth VFW, Kenilworth

Prize Bingo Fundraiser for the Union County ...

Sports

Wastewater Sewerage Treatment Plant seeking a Temporary Skilled Laborer

April 20, 2018

ROSELLE/LINDEN, NJ - The Roselle/Linden Wastewater Sewerage Treatment Plant is seeking a Temporary Skilled Laborer.

Position preference is given to residents of Linden and Roselle. Application and description for this position is available online at www.lrsanj.org. 

E-mail your application to: dbrown@lrsanj.org or mail to LRSA, P.O. Box 4118, Linden, NJ  07036, ...

Washington School to Hold “My School Color Run” Fundraiser Event

ROSELLE, NJ - The Washington School will be holding the towns first ever Color Run as a fundraiser for the schools Drama Club.

The event presented by Mayor Dansereau, Borough Council, Dept. of Recreation, Roselle Board fo Education, and Washington School, hopes to raise enough money to take the students to Broadway to see the Lion King. The money will also help with ...

Register Now for the Roselle Summer Fun Camp

ROSELLE, NJ - Applications are now being accepted for the 2018 Roselle Summer Fun Camp by the Roselle Department of Recreation. 

Applications are available at Roselle Borough Hall, 210 Chestnut St., from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. or you can register online at www.boroughofroselle.com.

Onsite in-person registration will be available at the Anthony Amalfe Community Center, 1268 Shaffer Ave., ...

Countywide Free Scrap Metal Recycling Event to be Held in Rahway and Cranford

UNION COUNTY, NJ - A free Countywide scrap metal recycling event is scheduled to be held on Saturday, April 21 in Rahway and Cranford.  

A wide variety of metal goods, from household appliances to gutters and sheds, are included in the program.

“This countywide program helps to fill a service gap in some Union County municipalities that currently have no pickup for scrap ...

Elizabeth Man Sentenced to Eight Years for Distributing Child Pornography on Internet

April 20, 2018

ELIZABETH, NJ - An Elizabeth man has been sentenced to eight years in prison after being convicted for using file-sharing software to share child pornography from his computer devices, which contained approximately 2,900 images and videos of child pornography.  

Jerrel D. Harris, 32, of Elizabeth was sentenced to eight years in state prison, including five years of parole ...

Nightmare Commute for Raritan Valley Line Commuters Monday

April 17, 2018

UNION COUNTY, NJ -- Raritan Valley Line commuters spent more than three hours trying to make their way home from New York City on Monday following the breakdown of a train near Union Station during rush hour.

At 9:47 p.m., NJT tweeted:

Raritan Valley Line westbound train service is operating on or close to schedule following an earlier disabled NJ Transit train near Union ...

Politics IS Government in Union County

April 22, 2018

After Bruce Paterson of Garwood was stopped from speaking at the Union County freeholder meeting of March 22 regarding the politics behind refusing to give the party line to a sitting freeholder I thought this brazen suppression of free speech could not go unanswered. The April 19 meeting I answered with these comments.

After ten years of following government in Union County I conclude that ...

Roselle Announces its Circle of Sisters Expo Community Health Fair

April 22, 2018

Roselle announces its Circle of Sisters Expo Community Health Fair Hosted by Ms. Derithia Williams- Vice Principal at Grace Wilday Jr. High School and Dr. Cynthia Atkins Women of Shachah, Inc. Women’s Advocacy. 

Saturday, April 28, 2018 at 3:00 pm - 7:00 pm in the Abraham Clark High School auditorium - located at 123 East 6th St., Roselle, NJ.  All ages are welcome to attend; ...

Good Gum Health = Good Whole-Body Health

If you are battling gum disease, gingivitis or periodontitis – you are not alone. Come join us at Roselle Park Dental in the fight against gum disease!

Inflammation caused by this disease puts patients at a greater risk of stroke, cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Gum disease can also worsen conditions such as COPD and may play a role in the contraction of pneumonia, bronchitis, and ...

Retro Review: Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo

Retro Review: Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo (Citadel Press, 1970)

 

How does a reviewer do justice to a book called “the great American novel”? I first read Johnny Got His Gun during the Viet Nam war, when young people, nationwide, were protesting fighting in a war that was a senseless waste of life; a war in which the United States had no business participating.

The Truth About My Reading

The Truth About My Reading

I didn't get my Composition and Literature teacher at Montclair State College at all. A crusty old man with a dour disposition, Mr. Smith always seemed angry and rude. He appropriately intimidated freshmen, even me, an English major, who found this common core course beneath my dignity. Frankly, as a graduate of Highland Park High School, and a survivor of Mrs.

'The Sting' shimmers and shakes at Paper Mill

‘The Sting ‘slithers and shakes at Paper Mill Playhouse

By LIZ KEILL

MILLBURN, NJ – In a premiere production of “The Sting,” Harry Connick Jr. commands the Paper Mill Playhouse stage in Millburn.

Based on the sensational Paul Newman/Robert Redford film in 1973, the 1930s plot centers on a con game and gambling, sometimes on a train between New York and ...