Earth Day is more than exceptional when you spend it at one of the Horizon Schools in Livingston. For these students, Earth Day becomes a celebration not just of our planet but of those who experience it in a manner unlike others.
Thanks to volunteers volunteers from various school systems, including Millburn, Livingston, West Orange, Rutherford, Springfield, Mountain Lakes, Randolph, and the Golda Och Academy (formerly the Solomon Schechter Day School), the Horizon kids were able to visit a number of stations to learn more about how to save the environment.
Teacher Robin Marlowe, who started celebrating Earth Day with her class about four years ago, enlisted her son, actor-in-training Charles, to peform Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax for preschoolers while other children tried their hands at composting and learning how wind generators work. Still others were planting herbs for Mother’s Day in recyclable, hand-decorated containers.
Linda Peroff, therapy coordinator for the Horizon School, demonstrated how the kids, many of whom use pointing to express themselves, were able to communicate via pictures from the school’s library to show which plants they wanted and what types of containers they wanted to use. This crucial aspect of the school’s literacy program teaches the children that pictures represent actual objects, an important component of higher learning.
The school has taken many measures to improve the environment, including making the school as paperless as possible, recycling, and using technology to reduce the need to photocopy, Peroff said. Horizon also boasts an extremely successful organic garden used to grow much of the produce served in the cafeteria and the staff has been quite proficient at composting.
The last station of the Earth Day celebration was the Recycle Relay in which the kids sorted materials into the appropriate recycling boxes. Being differently-abled did not diminish the sense of accomplishment and excitement experienced by the competitors in the various races who were cheered on by volunteers.
David Bishop, director of development and communications at Cerebral Palsy of New Jeresy (CPNJ), was thankful for the “tons of volunteers who make a big difference in what we can do.”
The two in Livingston more than 150 students ages 3 to 21 with multiple disabilities. Students’ diagnoses include a wide range of disabilities, including cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injuries, seizure disorders, developmental disabilities, autism spectrum, multiply disabled with hearing and/or visual impairments, Down syndrome, preschool special needs, as well as students using oxygen, g-tubes and tracheostomy tubes. For more information is available at http://cpnj.org.