VERONA, NJ - Despite the rain, several hundred individuals gathered for The Walk for a Lifetime in Verona Park on May 1, raising over $100,000 in support of The Children’s Institute (TCI) which runs two schools and an adult center for individuals on the autism spectrum and with related disabilities.

For the fourth year in a row, several hundred individuals of all ages walked to raise funds for The Children’s Institute (TCI).  Although there were fewer walkers present than usual this year due to the rain, there was no

lack of good cheer and enthusiasm.  Almost 1,000 supporters had registered for the event raising over $100,000 in support of TCI’s respite and afterschool programs, film academy and adult program, The Center for Independence. TCI is continuing to accept donations at The Walk for a Lifetime website through June. In addition to enjoying the DJ, vendors selling a variety of items, a 50/50 raffle, tricky tray, and a host of free children’s activities, participants were excited to be among the first to learn about The Children’s Institute’s new name and logo.  Starting on July 1, 2016, TCI will become Spectrum360, a name that reflects their commitment to providing a spectrum of options across a lifetime and a focus on the whole individual.  Their Verona preschool, elementary and middle school campus will become Academy360: Lower School, their Livingston high school will become Academy360: Upper School, their adult program, the Center for Independence will become Independence360 and their film school will become FilmAcademy360.

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Before the walk, TCI parent Paige King addressed the crowd. In talking about her daughter she said, “So much of Brianna’s growth is due to the fact that TCI has always been on the leading edge of academics, speech and behavioral services, the arts and PE.  Whenever I read online about exciting advances in education, I could say with pride that our school is already exploring in that direction. Brianna’s love of Technology has been fostered on a daily basis by the innovative experiences presented to her…In less than two years, Brianna will be ready for YAP (Young Adult Program) and beyond.  Along with everyone here, I am so excited to learn the new identity of a school that has supported us through the most important times of our life.  TCI has evolved into so much more than I could have ever dreamed for a girl who is not staring off into space in a classroom but rather standing here with ‘her people,’ laughing and talking and belonging.”

In thanking the walkers for their participation, TCI Executive Director/Superintendent Dr. Bruce Ettinger stated, “We are so thankful for your support and investment in our children and adults. TCI provides cutting-edge educational, therapeutic, and vocational services to children, youth, and adults with autism spectrum disorder.  We are especially excited to share our new name with all of you.  As Spectrum360 we will continue to provide the best and most innovative services possible.  This innovation is vital in helping our children and adults maximize their potential and become productive and contributing members of their communities.”

According to the CDC, one in 41 of New Jersey’s children is now diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum. This rate is the highest in the nation and reflects a 12 percent increase over two years. As the number of individuals diagnosed continues to climb and children who are now diagnosed grow to adulthood, the need for increased services is critical.  Programs for adults are particularly important to ensure that there are opportunities for continued growth after leaving formal education.  To learn more about the programs and services offered at The Children’s Institute, please visit www.tcischool.org. 

About The Children’s Institute (TCI)

For more than 50 years, TCI has been a pioneer in serving individuals with special learning needs. Today, TCI includes two non-profit schools, approved by the New Jersey State Board of Education, which serve children from ages 3-21 on the autism spectrum and with related disabilities, and The Center for Independence, a program for adults over 21, approved by the NJ Division of Developmental Disabilities and the NJ Division of Vocational Rehabilitation. TCI is committed to developing the academic, social, behavioral, communication, life and career skills of children, young adults, and adults on the autism spectrum.