LIVINGSTON – The entire fourth grade class from Hillside Elementary School visited with students at Cerebral Palsy of North Jersey’s Horizon School on Feb. 15. As part of the Hillside-Horizon Helping Hands community service project, Hillside students attended Horizon’s performance of “The Wizard of Oz” and learned about the challenges faced by children with a wide range of physical and cognitive disabilities.
Hillside students toured the school, learning about the different technologies (including iPads, interactive whiteboards, and augmentative communication devices) and therapies (including physical, speech, occupational and aquatic) that Horizon uses. After the tour, students were able to meet and play with some Horizon students, including Melody Brown and Mark Calva. Brown interacted using her communication device and Calva showed his new friends his skill in using his motorized wheelchair, which he navigates with his head.
In June, The Hillside students will be returning to Horizon School to run a fun activity day for the students there. The fourth graders from Hillside will get to work with the students of Horizon in several different activity stations, and get the opportunity to see how children with special needs learn and communicate using assistive technology.
Lisa Diorio a member of the Physical Therapy department at the Horizon School, and a parent of a Hillside fourth grader said, “I think it’s really important to teach our children about other kids who may learn differently, and play differently than they do. At the end of the day, I hope they walk away with a better understanding of disabilities and an acceptance for kids with special needs.”
Horizon School and Horizon High School, both located in Livingston, serve a total of more than 150 students age 3-21 with multiple disabilities.