FANWOOD, NJ -- The Borough of Fanwood has received a Recreational Opportunities for Individuals with Disabilities (ROID) grant of $16,500 for 2017 from the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs to fund programming to include children with disabilities in sports programs and teen social nights. The grant is designed to build on the success of Fanwood’s existing program.   

The project unites the borough and Intensive Therapeutics, a Fanwood-based non-profit, charitable organization that provides group and individual occupational therapy services to children with special needs. 

“We are thrilled to expand our services and programming to meet more of the needs of children with special needs in Fanwood and the surrounding areas," Executive Director Scott Matthews. "The support of Mayor (Colleen) Mahr and the community of Fanwood has been tremendous and it is greatly appreciated by the children and the families we serve.”

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With peer-mentors and the collaborative efforts of the local leagues coaches, the program will provide opportunities for children and teens with disabilities to be successful in participating in a variety of recreational programs within their own community. The program creates cost-effective recreational alternative for parents and will focus on building skills for children to participate in mainstream programs.  

“I'm thrilled to get this grant again,” said Mayor Mahr, “It will go a long way to ensuring this vital program continues to grow and provide safe, affordable and positive recreational programs for children with disabilities.”

Fanwood has operated a successful program for several years, with over 50 children each year participating and roughly 75% of children interested in sports programming moving forward with a mainstream league once they feel comfortable and able.

Previous programming had focused on active recreation alongside Occupational Therapy (OT), however the Borough recognized a need to expand passive recreational opportunities. Based on the needs and desires of participants, Intensive Therapeutics and the Borough of Fanwood developed social activities for older students in 2015. “Teen Nights” have become unprecedentedly popular and attract students of all ages to participate and socialize with other disabled children throughout Northern and Central New Jersey.

The goal is to increase recreational opportunities for individuals with disabilities year-round, so various components of this program must operate independently of one another. Programs include youth soccer, basketball, and bicycle-riding skill-building lessons. Finally, teen social nights will take place monthly in coordination with the Borough of Fanwood, the Township of Scotch Plains, Intensive Therapeutics, and representatives from an organization formerly known as Autism Family Times.  The program enables disabled and non-disabled children to co-mingle during inclusive recreational activity, and allows for access of active and passive recreational opportunities year-round.

Details and registration for the programs can be found at is Scotch Plains-Fanwood’s only free daily paper. Sign up for our daily eNews and follow us on Facebook and twitter @SPF_TAP.