Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Rutherford Invites Local Kids to 'Mix It Up'

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Rutherford Invites Local Kids to 'Mix It Up'

Article excerpt

RUTHERFORD – Drawing inspiration from Julia, the first Sesame Street character with autism, Rutherford will host a series of "Mix It Up" play-group dates, aiming to bring kids of all abilities together for socialization and play.

"Sesame Street found this very nonfrightening way to be very accepting of someone who is different, who makes different noises, who acts differently, but who is just a kid like everyone else, and wants to play and have friends," said borough Councilwoman Stephanie McGowan, the Access for All liaison and chairwoman.

The goal is to promote integrated socialization, a structured play-date for uniquely abled and typical children. The Rutherford Recreation Department was approached by local parent Annika Cioffi, who was looking for a program like one she visited in Lyndhurst, but more geared towards younger children.

"I wanted Alexi to have a chance to play with other children in town that she doesn't get to meet, because she's been out-of-district since she was 3," said Cioffi.

Alexi, 11, now has the chance to make friends in the borough.

"Every play-date or birthday party you're invited to could be a half-hour away, because she is invited by kids from school, and didn't have friends here. This is something for your kid to do where they can meet kids their own age, and in the process, they're teaching the local kids what special needs are."

Mix It Up will be held in the Tamblyn Field Civic Center from 1 to 2:30 p.m. on Dec. 3, Dec. 10 and Dec. 17. A $10 fee is requested. A bottle of water will be provided. Activity stations include arts and crafts, Nerf games, obstacle courses, karaoke and dancing, bubbles, card games, life skills program and more.

"The hope is many of our uniquely abled children go out of district for school. How do they get to meet people in town? How do they get to feel like they are part of the community? …

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