SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ - At Monday’s Borough Council meeting, Mayor Matt Anesh proclaimed April as both National Autism Awareness Month and Sexual Assault Awareness Month and noted that ‘National Library Week’ and ‘Volunteer Litter Clean-Up Week’ will also take place this month.

In April 1970, the Autism Society launched a nationwide effort to promote autism awareness and, for the past 45 years, April has been designated as National Autism Awareness Month. Autism is a persuasive development disorder that affects the social, learning and behavioral skills. It also affects the areas in the brain that regulate pragmatics of speech and perceptions of others, affecting how people with autism assimilate and express verbal and non-verbal communication and sensory processing.

“Autism was once though to be a relatively rare disorder affecting 1 in 10,000 people. As more and more health professionals become proficient in diagnosing autism, more children are being diagnosed on the autism spectrum,” said Anesh, noting that current rates are as high as 1 in 110 children nationally and 1 in 94 in New Jersey. “I encourage everyone to observe the month by learning about people with autism, their strengths, abilities and the programs which serve their needs.”

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April is also Sexual Assault Awareness Month and, in the borough, April 24 has been designated as ‘Denim Day’ in an effort to draw attention to the fact that sexual violence is widespread and has public health implications. According to National Sexual Violence Resource Center, sexual violence is a major public health, human rights and social justice issue and the goal of SAAM is to raise public awareness about sexual violence and to educate communities on how to prevent it.

 “With leadership, dedication, and encouragement, there is compelling evidence that we can be successful in reducing sexual violence in Middlesex County through prevention education focused on increasing gender equity and bystander intervention, increased awareness, and holding perpetrators who commit acts of violence responsible for their actions,” said Anesh, adding, “I encourage everyone to join anti-sexual violence advocates and support service programs in the belief that all community members must be part of the solution to end sexual violence and encourage the observation of ‘Denim Day’ on Friday, April 24, 2015.”

Each year, South Plainfield celebrates also Earth Day and Arbor Day in April and, for 2015, the borough has designated the week of April 19 through April 25 as ‘Volunteer Litter Cleanup Week.’

“We are fortunate to live in a state so bountifully endowed with natural assets and we feel a natural, continuing responsibility for preserving and improving the environmental by keeping it clean, healthy and beautiful,” said the mayor, noting that residents can take an active role in the keeping the borough’s streets, parks, neighborhoods and community clean and beautiful by also participating in a volunteer cleanup on Saturday, April 18 beginning at 9 a.m. at the Municipal Building.

“I challenge all organized and individual segments of our community to participate in this noble effort by developing and carrying out imaginative clean-up, paint-up, and fix-up projects, which will serve to enhance, restore or maintain the beauty of all neighborhoods in our community,” added Anesh.

Additionally, the week of April 12 to April 18 as National Library Week in the borough and, during Monday night’s meeting, the mayor presented a proclamation to Darlene Tedesco-Cullen, president of the South Plainfield Library Board. He also encouraged residents to visit the South Plainfield Public Library and take advantage of the world of resources available.

 “Libraries have historically served as our nation’s great equalizers of knowledge by providing free access to all [and] work to meet the changing needs of their users …” said Anesh. “Our nation’s libraries provide a forum for diverse ideas and points of view that help us better understand each other and ourselves.”

The next South Plainfield Borough Council meeting will take place on Monday, April 20 at 7 p.m.