Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Celebrating National Disability Employment Awareness Month with 40th Annual Raritan Valley Workshop Awards Dinner Dance

Employment opportunities empower people with disabilities to achieve greater independence and the chance to fully participate in and contribute to society while providing the ability to say "Yes I can!”
Easter Seals job training and employment services help people with disabilities learn skills to successfully enter the workforce or to return to work after an illness or injury.  Services offered include pre-vocational evaluation, work adjustment training, school-to-work transition, supported employment, extended employment, and job placement services via its Employment Services locations, such as the Raritan Valley Workshop (RVW).
On October 21st, Easter Seals Raritan Valley Workshop (one of its three sheltered workshops throughout the state) honored Easter Seals New Jersey’s Employment Services consumers, customers, donors and employers at its 40th Annual Dinner Dance fundraiser.
This year’s continuous commitment award was presented to Jerry Katcher, a member of the Raritan Valley Workshop Advisory Board for over 20 years. During his tenure, Jerry served as Advisory Board President and Chairperson of the Annual Dinner Committee.
Special Recognition was also given to Mark Berkowitz of Derby Appliances who has supported the workshop for over five years by generously donating items for auction at the annual dinner dance fundraiser.
The Employer of the Year Award was presented to Lynda Golden and Walmart of North Brunswick for their commitment to hiring and enhancing the lives of people with disabilities through employment.
Four program participants from the Raritan Valley Workshop and Easter Seals’ Employment Services were also honored with Employee of the Year Awards in recognition of outstanding performance and personal commitment to excellence in competitive employment, both in the workshop and in community employment.
Easter Seals Employment Services has been helping people with disabilities or special needs determine and reach employment goals, accomplish meaningful employment, fulfill productive and valuable roles in the community, achieve self-sufficiency, and earn an independent income for more than 40 years.
"We believe everyone has a valuable contribution to make to their community," says Brian Fitzgerald, ceo of Easter Seals NJ. 

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Walk With Me a HUGE Success...and on the rainiest day of the year!

What an incredible day Sunday was.

Incredibly rainy and soggy that is. But more importantly - incredibly successful and blessed thanks to more than 500 people who braved the rainiest day of the year to come out and support Easter Seals New Jersey's first annual "Walk With Me", raising approximately $60,000....and still counting!

Volunteers began arriving at Roosevelt Park as early as 6 am on Sunday, August 22nd, setting up for registration and placing signage around the park. By 8 am, set up was well under way as we anticipated the arrival of the day's first registrants at 8:30. Of course, the real party didn't begin until our guests of honor -- our official Walk With Me Ambassadors Armaun and Vitaliy -- arrived (our prayers and well-wishes are with Cosette, our third Walk With Me Ambassador who was unable to attend due to illness).

To kick off the start of the walk at 10 am, Edison Mayor Antonia Ricigliano - who proudly help up her hat and umbrella for all to see - and Easter Seals New Jersey's CEO Brian Fitzgerald gave an opening speech, as did representatives from CVS who coordinated the outstanding participation of their statewide employees.

Of course, as luck would have it, that's precisely when the rain began to come down the hardest.  But, the show must go on! And, to everyone's credit, that's exactly what happened as you can see from the photo. All of the walkers, some with umbrellas in two and most without, forged ahead to complete the 2-mile lap around the lake led by our brave Ambassadors Armuan and Vitaliy.

After all, it may have been wet, but at least it wasn't sweltering hot! There's always a silver lining in every cloud! And judging by the commitment of all who participated Sunday, the overhead clouds were lined with gold, evidenced by everyone's commitment and determination in making the day a huge success no matter what. 

Friday, August 6, 2010

Century 21 Launches New Interactive Campaign to Benefit Easter Seals - 21st Century Child Photo Share

Enter the 21st Century Child Photo Sharing Campaign for a Chance to Win and Apple I-Pad or a $2,100 Apple Shopping Spree and Help Children Living with Autism at the Same Time.

Here's how you and your child can help kids living with Autism:

Share an inspiring snapshot of your child (age 0-5) to help kids with Autism picture a brighter future. It's for a good cause, and your family could even win a $2,100.00 Apple Gift Card or an Apple iPad.

After choosing and uploading a photo of your child, you'll be able to access your child's page, and share your photo with your friends, family, and online social network. Century 21 will automatically donate $1 to Easter Seals autism services for every photo uploaded to the campaign.

Then, each photo that is shared will request a donation made on your child's behalf. The more money that's raised, the closer you get to winning! You can log back in anytime and see who's donated and how much money you've raised.

To get started or learn more, visit

Monday, July 26, 2010

Happy 20th Anniversary ADA!

The Americans with Disabilities Act, which was signed into law on July 26, 1990 and extends civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities, celebrates its 20th Anniversary TODAY.

Known as the Emancipation Proclamation for people with disabilities, the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law on July 26, 1990. This landmark law extends civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities in five key areas: employment; services provided by state and local governments; public accommodations; telecommunications; and transportation.

Twenty years ago, a deaf person couldn’t order a pizza over the phone. A person who used wheelchair couldn’t ride a lift-equipped city bus. Thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), times have changed for the better. But the promise of the ADA remains out of reach for the millions of adults with disabilities who are unemployed and want to work or who cannot live independently in their communities.

Easter Seals played a major role in the development and enactment of the ADA and continues to advocate for policies that empower people with disabilities to demonstrate their abilities rather than be limited by their disabilities.

You can take action, too. Here's how:
  • In honor of the ADA’s 20th Anniversary, tell your federal and state lawmakers to enact policies so that ALL Americans with disabilities can live the promise of the ADA. SIGN THE PETITION HERE.
  • Be among the 2,010 "Proclamations of Recommitment" to the mission of the ADA in recognition of the 20th anniversary. In recognition of the passage of this landmark civil rights legislation, the National ADA Symposium invites state and local governments, schools and colleges, businesses, organizations, service providers, and advocates to join our "Proclamation of Recommitment" to the spirit of the ADA. Don't let our civil rights be ignored another day! Help create a truly inclusive society like ADA did 20 years ago by spreading this message and encouraging your friends to SIGN THIS PROCLAMATION as well. 
For more information on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) visit and

Friday, July 23, 2010

In Extremely HOT Temperatures, Make Sure You Know the Warning Signs and Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke

Did you know that heat exhaustion, if not immediately cared for, can lead to heat stroke which can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not given?

Treatment includes rapidly lowering the person’s body temperature followed by intensive supportive care.

Know the warning signs and symptoms!

Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion is the body’s response to an excessive loss of the water and salt contained in sweat. Those most prone to heat exhaustion are elderly people, people with high blood pressure and people working or exercising in a hot environment.
Warning Signs of Heat Exhaustion Include:
  • Heavy sweating
  • Paleness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Tiredness and weakness
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
What to Do
  • Rest in a cool, preferably air-conditioned, area.
  • Loosen clothing.
  • Cool down with a shower, bath or sponge bath
  • Drink plenty of non-alcoholic and caffeine-free beverages.
  • Seek medical attention if symptoms worsen or last longer than one hour.  
Heat Stroke (life-threatening)

Heat stroke occurs when the body becomes unable to control its temperature: the body’s temperature rises rapidly, the sweating mechanism fails, and the body is unable to cool down.

Heat stroke can develop within minutes or hours. Heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not given. Treatment includes rapidly lowering the person’s body temperature followed by intensive supportive care.

Warning Signs of Heat Stroke Vary But May Include: 
  • Extremely high body temperature (above 103° F orally)
  • Red, hot and dry skin (no sweating)
  • Rapid pulse
  • Throbbing headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Confusion
  • Unconsciousness
What to Do  
  • Call for immediate medical assistance.
  • Move the victim to a cool or shady area.
  • Cool the victim rapidly using whatever methods you can.
  • (For example, immerse the victim in a tub of cool water; place in a cool shower; spray with cool water from a garden hose or sponge with cool water. Avoid use of fans; see paragraphs below.)
  • Monitor body temperature, and continue cooling efforts until the body temperature drops to 101-102° F.
  • Do not give the victim alcohol to drink.
  • Get medical assistance as soon as possible. 
How To Prevent Heat-Related Illness

Be aware of the warning signs of heat-related illness, such as light-headedness, mild nausea or confusion, sleepiness or profuse sweating.
While outdoors, rest frequently in a shady area so that your body's thermostat has a chance to recover.

Schedule outdoor activities carefully, preferably before noon or in the evening,

If unaccustomed to working or exercising in a hot environment, start slowly, pick up the pace gradually and limit your exercise or work time.

Wear sunscreen to protect skin from the sun's harmful rays. Sunburn affects your body's ability to cool itself and causes a loss of body fluids.

Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.

When working in the heat, monitor the condition of your co-workers and have someone do the same for you. If you are 65 years of age or older, have a friend or relative call to check on you twice a day when hot weather health advisories have been issued.

Stay indoors and in an air-conditioned environment. If air conditioning is not available, consider a visit to a shopping mall, public library, movie theater, supermarket or other air-conditioned location for a few hours.

Increase your fluid intake—regardless of your activity level. Don't wait until you feel thirsty to drink fluids. Ensure infants and children drink adequate amounts of liquids.

Avoid drinks containing caffeine, alcohol, or large amounts of sugar because they will actually cause you to lose more fluid. Also, avoid very cold beverages because they can cause stomach cramps.

Electric fans may be useful to increase comfort and to draw cool air into your home at night, but do not rely on a fan as your primary cooling device during a heat wave. When the temperature is in the upper 90s or higher, a fan will not prevent heat-related illness. A cool shower or bath is a more effective way to cool off.

Avoid hot foods and heavy meals.

Ask your doctor whether medications you take affect your body's response to the heat.

Do not leave infants, children or pets unattended in a parked car or other hot environment.

Check regularly on those at greatest risk of heat-related illness: 
  • infants and children up to 4 years of age
  • people 65 years of age or older
  • people who are overweight
  • people who overexert during work or exercise
  • people who are ill or on certain medications

Use of Fans for Cooling

In order for a fan to be effective, the skin surface must be moist. When the skin surface is moist, moving air removes heat from the skin as the moisture evaporates. Unfortunately, when a person begins to develop heat stroke, they stop sweating. In addition, elderly persons may not sweat due to poor heat regulation messages sent out by their brain centers. If a fan is to be effective, the skin must be moist either with sweat, or with dampened clothing, or with moisture added by rubbing wet cloths over the skin surface.

Although fans are less expensive to operate, they may not be effective as indicated above, and may even be harmful, when temperatures are very high. As the air temperature rises, air flow is increasingly ineffective in cooling the body until finally, at temperatures above about 100° F (the exact number varies with the humidity) increasing air movement actually increases heat stress. More specifically, when the temperature of the air rises to about 100° F, the fan may be delivering overheated air to the skin at a rate that exceeds the capacity of the body to get rid of this heat, even with sweating, and the net effect is to add heat rather than to cool the body.

The widespread distribution of fans, often practiced in the past as a heat-relief measure, thus appears unlikely to be particularly effective in preventing major heat-related health effects when temperatures are very high. The better alternative by far when the temperature soars is to use an air conditioner if one is available or to seek shelter in an air-conditioned building.

(Source: Dept. of Health & Senior Services)

Friday, July 16, 2010

Easter Seals and Google SketchUp Announce New August 20th Deadline for Sketch-a-Space Contest

There's still time to Sketch-a-Space for Autism Awareness!

CHICAGO, July 13 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, Easter Seals announced the deadline for its online contest Sketch-A-Space, supported by Google SketchUp, will be extended from July 16 to August 20, 2010.

As one of the nation's largest provider of autism services, Easter Seals is calling for entrants to use the free Google SketchUp software to design a room of their dreams—for a chance to win $2,000 to make their space become a reality.

"Easter Seals' Sketch-A-Space contest aims to raise autism awareness, especially around the importance of life-long services and supports," says Tom Wyman, manager of business development, Google. "We hope it will encourage development of design solutions to address the unique needs of people living with autism and provide an avenue for creative expression."

Sketch-A-Space for Autism 

The competition offers people (living with and without autism) an opportunity to design their ideal, dream space using Google's free 3-D modeling software, SketchUp. Entries can be submitted at between April 26, 2010 and August 20, 2010. Winners will be announced in early Fall 2010.

To determine the Sketch-A-Space winners, Easter Seals secured a team of five leading experts to review and select the three finalists and one $2,000 grand prize winner. Each judge is an accomplished professional with significant expertise in architecture, design and autism:
  • David Bromstad, artist, designer, the original HGTV Design Star, and host of HGTV's Color Splash Miami
  • Aidan Chopra, Google Product Evangelist, architect and author
  • Brad Keith, lead architect on Easter Seals Metropolitan Chicago's Therapeutic School and Center for Autism Research (designed specifically for children with autism)
  • Mardie Oakes, executive director, Hallmark Community Solutions, and housing developer with a passion for making the places people live the places people thrive
  • Maurice Snell, as a man living with autism he's personally aware of the unique needs of people on the spectrum  
Physical Space & Autism

A lumpy chair, a flickering light, an incessant car alarm. Minor distractions for most, but for many people with autism, such basic components of a room – the buzz of florescent lighting, a zigzag pattern on carpet, a vibrant wall color, or random furniture arrangement – can often prove debilitating.

"When it comes to living with autism, a person's physical space and environment can be particularly important. Many individuals with autism report increased sensitivity to sounds, smells, tactile and their visual stimuli – unique needs that need to be addressed," says Patricia Wright, PhD, MPH, national director, autism services, Easter Seals.

Google SketchUp was originally developed for users to design and communicate in 3-D. After its introduction, Google learned its free software was very popular among people with autism, many of whom are visually and spatially gifted and especially adept at creating 3-D models. Today, Google SketchUp is helping people with autism use their strengths to express their creativity and develop marketable employment skills.

"Joining up with Google SketchUp for this contest makes perfect sense," adds Wright. "Not only is it a wonderful tool for individuals with autism to express themselves, it's a great way for entrants to share their creative ideas for what makes a comfortable and safe space, whether it be a bedroom, family room, classroom or office."

Given the increased prevalence of autism, and its greater public awareness, more professionals are beginning to consider the design needs of individuals with autism through Universal Design.

"It's important for families living with autism and professionals to begin to think differently about space – see environments through the eyes of a person living with autism and work together to find flexible, personalized solutions," says Mardie Oakes, housing developer and contest judge.

For more about Easter Seals Sketch-A-Space contest, visit

About Easter Seals New Jersey

The mission of Easter Seals New Jersey is to enable individuals with disabilities or special needs, and their families, to live, learn, work and play in their communities with equality, dignity and independence.

Easter Seals is a leading non-profit provider of comprehensive services for individuals with developmental disabilities including autism, physical disabilities, mental illness and other special needs. For over 60 years, our services have been geared toward helping individuals remove obstacles along their path toward independence and full community-integration.
Easter Seals is committed to creating solutions and providing programs that produce tangible results in the lives of approximately 7,000 individuals and families in New Jersey. For more information on Easter Seals New Jersey and its statewide disability services, please contact us at 732-257-6662, or visit on-line at or



Wednesday, July 14, 2010

2nd Annual "Ride for Hope" Generates over $2,600 for Easter Seals Programs

On Sunday, June 27th, over 100 motorcyclists along with vendors, volunteers, and staff members turned out to brave the scorching heat for Easter Seals New Jersey’s 2nd Annual “Ride for Hope”, raising over $2,600 for necessary program funding.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Safety & Evacuation Procedures Address the Needs of People with Disabilities

Since the tragedy of September 11th, many Americans have been involved in practicing evacuation drills as corporations, government agencies, and other buildings update current emergency procedures.

Easter Seals encourages people with all abilities to consider these s.a.f.e.t.y first tips when preparing for an evacuation:

S tart preparing an evacuation plan now. If you have a disability, identify yourself to building managers and help devise an effective emergency procedure. People of all abilities must be equally prepared for an emergency evacuation. It is critical that everyone works together.

A sk family, friends and co-workers with disabilities — including those with vision, hearing and mobility issues — about their personal evacuation concerns and needs. Keep in mind that the needs of pregnant women, older adults, and people with injuries or illnesses are often similar to specific needs of people with disabilities.

F ind "buddies." These can be co-workers or friends with whom you plan and practice. Buddies find you in an emergency and can provide planned assistance in the event of an emergency or evacuation.

E valuate the area. Pre-determine and practice your evacuation route with your buddies, who also know how to operate any special equipment needed to evacuate someone safely.

T est smoke detectors, public announcement systems, fire extinguishers, flashlights, et al, to assure proper function when needed. Make sure alternate alert systems are available for individuals with special needs, especially for people with vision and hearing disabilities).

Y ou can help Easter Seals by making this important issue top-of-mind in your community — talking to business leaders, building management, government officials, police and fire departments.

Across the country, safety and evacuation procedures are more important than ever, especially for 54 million Americans living with disabilities. Most existing evacuation procedures do not really address the specific needs of people with disabilities

With more than 85 years of experience helping people with disabilities gain greater independence and 50 years as a leader in creating architecturally accessible environments, Easter Seals is uniquely positioned to address the safety concerns of Americans with disabilities and bring about positive change in our communities.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Tell Us What's Important to YOU

Here at Easter Seals, our vision for a world that respects and supports children and adults with disabilities is what inspires and drives our work every day.
That's why, right now, we're working on a vision statement that will guide our efforts for the next 5 years.
And as a friend and supporter of Easter Seals, your vision for disability services in your local community is vitally important to us as we create this plan.
We want to hear from you today: what progress would you most like to see for people living with disabilities in your community?  

For instance, how important is it that...
  • Young children in your state and community get the services they need as early in life as possible?
  •  Parents and family members become more aware of, and engaged in, the policy issues that affect people living with disabilities in your community?
  •  More training and education becomes available to care providers for people with disabilities in your community?
  • More policy and program decision-makers – and the general public – start to understand and support meeting the needs of children and adults with disabilities?
Please, let us know! Click here to fill out our quick poll.

For every one of our more than 60 years, Easter Seals has depended on the support and passion of people like you to help us provide life-changing services and advocacy for people with disabilities.

Person by person, family by family, we've made amazing progress so far.

Now, as we look for new and innovative ways to support children and adults with disabilities in the coming years – please, know how much we appreciate your role in our work to promote equality, dignity, and independence for people of all ages living with disabilities. <3