May-21-08 DCA ANNOUNCES HONOREES OF THE 29TH ANNUAL GOVERNOR´S CONFERENCE ON RECREATION FOR INDIVIDUALS WITH DISABILITIES
DCA ANNOUNCES HONOREES OF THE 29th ANNUAL GOVERNOR’S CONFERENCE ON RECREATION FOR INDIVIDUALS WITH DISABILITIES
MONROE, N.J. – The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) today announced the honorees of the 29th Annual Governor’s Conference on Recreation for Individuals with Disabilities. The ceremony, held at the Crown Plaza in Monroe, recognized honorees for their work to enhance the lives of people with disabilities throughout New Jersey.
“It is important that all New Jersey residents enjoy recreation benefits,” said DCA Commissioner Joseph Doria. “I am pleased to recognize these outstanding groups and individuals for their contributions to assist those with disabilities.”
The honorees include:
Evelyn Aronow Dolan Citizen’s Award for Advocacy and Promotion of Recreation for Individuals with Disabilities
The Evelyn Aronow Dolan Citizens Award for Advocacy and Promotion of Recreation for Individuals with Disabilities is given to an individual who - through legislation, education, public relations, technical support or financial support - has promoted growth and development and has made a lasting contribution to community recreation services for individuals with disabilities in New Jersey.
This year’s award was given to Paul and Margo Hooker. Though the Hookers have no children with disabilities, they have been long standing advocates and supporters of recreation programs and facilities for special needs children. They started and continue to run the Challenger League Youth Sports Program which provides basketball, baseball, soccer, & tennis to over 150 children. Aside from all the recreational programs, in 1999, the Hookers raised $200,000 to build a playground in Colts Neck, NJ on an acre of property donated by the Monmouth County Parks System. The playground is usable by all children, including those with disabilities. They are currently raising money for a second playground.
New Jersey Distinguished Agency Recreation Services Award
The New Jersey Distinguished Agency Recreation Services Award is given to an agency that has developed outstanding recreation programs and services that demonstrate a commitment to the integration of people with and without disabilities. Two categories are established within this award for nonprofit and governmental agencies.
This year’s Governmental Agency Award went to Cherry Hill Township which has made a commitment and demonstrated dedication to ensuring the successful inclusion of all residents with disabilities in their recreation programs and services offered. The Township’s Connections Program provides residents of all ages with support or accommodations in any of Cherry Hill’s existing recreation programs, and has provided accommodations for 23 individuals with disabilities in an assortment of programs. The Township’s New Horizon’s Unified Summer Morning Fun Program provided 89 children with special needs with the opportunity to be included side by side with their peers in a seven week summer community program. Additionally, Cherry Hill’s TOPSoccer program helped 12 young athletes with physical or developmental disabilities learn to play soccer which they played side by side with their peers on a soccer team on a neighborhood field.
This year’s Nonprofit Award was given to Dreams Come True Therapeutic Riding (DCTTR). DCTTA was established on the belief that the experience of riding horses in a secure, challenging and supportive environment dramatically improves the lives of individuals who are physically, emotionally or developmentally challenged. DCTTR provides a completely integrated comprehensive equestrian program that includes riding lessons, summer camp and equestrian team where each rider is taught to ride as independently as possible and to the best of his/her ability. Riders experience improved general fitness, self-esteem and social skills while having fun with friends and family.
Alvin Slootsky Exemplary Recreation Lifestyle for an Individual Award
This Alvin Slootsky Exemplary Recreation Lifestyle for an Individual Award is awarded to an individual with a disability who exemplifies a lifestyle enriched through participation in recreation experiences, and who by that participation, has enriched the lives of others.
This year’s honoree was Timothy Jones of Mount Ephraim. Timothy was born with several significant medical problems, including Spina Bifida, hydrocephalus, asthma, and severe food allergies. As the first African American to make the national sled hockey team, he was an alternate in 2005, and in 2006 he made the team with a starting spot as a forward. Tim has played with the team in New York, Colorado, Germany, Canada, and Italy on his way to the 2006 Paralympics in Turino, Italy. There he reached his dream of winning an Olympic medal as the team was awarded the Bronze Medal.
Ted Kaplan Exemplary Recreation Team Award
The Ted Kaplan Exemplary Recreation Team Award is presented to a recreation group, club or sports team that has created unique ways to improve the lives of individuals with disabilities.
The award was given to the Whitetail Deer Hunt for Individuals with Disabilities. The Hunterdon County Department of Parks and Recreation along with the National Wild Turkey Federation’s Wheelin’ Sportsmen program began their first annual Whitetail Deer Hunt for Individuals with Disabilities on county parkland in February 2007. The first event, also the first public deer hunt for individuals with disabilities in the state, was held without cost for a dozen hunters at the closed Heron Glen Golf Course in Ringoes, New Jersey. This year 16 participated in the second hunt, which is now planned as an annual event.
Ruth Hughes Innovative Accessible Recreation Facility Award
The Ruth Hughes Innovative Accessible Recreation Facility Award is presented to a recreation facility where opportunities go above and beyond compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, and encourages individuals with disabilities to engage in recreational activities and pursue once in a lifetime experiences.
This year’s award was given to the Lakeside Village at Mercer County Park. Nested on the banks of Lake Mercer, a 365 acre man-made body of water on the outskirts of Mercer County Park, the area was not utilized to its full potential. In 2004, the Mercer County Parks Commission along with the Trenton Rotary Club helped raise funds to transform Lakeside Village into a “park within a park.” The creation of a 10,500 square foot area of rubberized surfacing with two nautical themed play structure, accessible swings and raised play area were also added where all children, disabled and non-disabled alike, can enjoy themselves at play. In addition to major landscaping renovation, a fully accessible pontoon boat was purchased to provide water tours of Lake Mercer.
The Governor’s Annual Conference on Recreation for Individuals with Disabilities is sponsored by DCA’s Division of Community Resources. For further information on the Division of Community Resources, call 609-633-6286 or log on to http://www.state.nj.us/dca/dcr/.