Special athletes

Matheny student Natalie Tomastyk and recreation therapist Saori Cheth.

More than 40 Matheny students, patients and group home residents competed in the Somerset County Special Olympics on May 4 at Bridgewater-Raritan High School in Bridgewater, NJ. The Matheny athletes received 40 gold medals and 28 silver medals, and Matheny will be sending eight athletes to the New Jersey State Special Olympics from June 7-9 at The College of New Jersey in Ewing, NJ. They will be competing in track & field, bocce and power lifting.

Participation in Special Olympics is a key activity in Matheny’s Recreation Therapy program, which provides students and patients with a variety of recreation opportunities and resources to improve their physical, emotional, cognitive and social well-being. Students and patients are encouraged to take part in several adaptive sports teams throughout the year, including track & field, adaptive karate and power wheelchair soccer.

Matheny student Kimberly Alarcon, participating in a track & field event.


Bring your kids to work day

John Ebert, nephew of technology coordinator Alex Fraumann and a student at the Flocktown Elementary School in Long Valley, NJ, helps Matheny student Mark O’Connell play adapted miniature golf.

Staff members of The Matheny School brought their sons and daughters to work and then gave them a full day of education about everything that goes on in the school – from classroom instruction to adapted physical education to art and music.

The visitors saw how Matheny students benefit from the latest technology such as SMART Boards and Tables and iPads. They attended all classes, from preschool to high school, and they participated in a variety of adapted sports. It was an eye-opening experience for many and gave everyone a better understanding of the challenges and triumphs experienced daily by The Matheny School staff.

How sweet it was!

Adult patient Rasheedah Mahali with, from left, James O'Brien of Metuchen, NJ, Mike Berezny of Peapack, NJ, and Matheny social worker Kelly Haldaman of Bethelehem, PA.

Lelica Palecco, a vocalist with the B.D. Lenz All-Star Band, surveyed the room at The Skylands in Randolph, NJ, and proclaimed, “I’ve never seen a better looking group.” The occasion was The Matheny Prom. The stylish crowd was a mixture of Matheny students and adult patients, family members, volunteers from the community and staff members.

This eagerly anticipated event is but one example of how Matheny does everything possible to enhance the quality of life for its students and patients. The theme of this year’s prom was “A Sweet Escape,” and for four hours everyone did just that—forgetting about their disabilities and concentrating on having a good time.

The Prom was funded by a generous contribution from the Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation in East Hanover, NJ.

Matheny student (and Prom King) Yasin Reddick with Rachel, left, and Alyssa Scher of Red Bank.


Garage sale volunteers

Front row, from left: Yasin Reddick, Regan Pompeo of Basking Ridge, NJ, daughter of Hobart Group CEO Lisa Bair; and Jessica Evans. Back row, from left: Elena Hickman, Bedminster, NJ; Camille Caruso, Gladstone, NJ; Christine Monahan, Bedminster; Katie Dorsey, Lopatcong, NJ; and Greg Condit, Chatham, NJ.

Two Matheny residents, Yasin Reddick and Jessica Evans, volunteered at the Peapack-Gladstone First Aid Squad’s 21st annual Town-Wide Garage Sale, held on Saturday, April 27. Reddick and Evans helped out at the table sponsored by The Hobart Group, Gladstone-based promotional and marketing services agency.

The Garage Sale is a fundraiser for the squad, which provides emergency services to Peapack-Gladstone residents and has been very helpful to and supportive of Matheny.

Hoops for Heart

Matheny student Aaron Turovlin and physical therapist Jessica Korab.

The front parking lot at Matheny was closed off and transformed into several basketball courts on Friday, April 26, as Matheny School students participated in adapted basketball games as part of a “March Madness”-type tournament to raise money for the American Heart Association.

The tournament was Matheny’s participation in the AHA’s Hoops for Heart program, designed to bring students together for a good cause. On the same day, throughout Matheny, employees were encouraged to wear red and donate $5 to help the AHA raise women’s awareness of cardiovascular disease and empower women to reduce their risks. Families and friends of Matheny students were asked to send checks to Matheny, made out to The American Heart Association.

From left, Sean Murphy, Matheny School principal; Sean Bielefeldt, Matheny director of recreation therapy; Daeon Troutman, Matheny student; Dawn Williams, Matheny teacher; Lori Bertoline, regional director, youth market, American Heart Assn.; Jim Hintenach, Matheny elementary supervisor, adapted physical education; and Kevin Long, Matheny student.


School open house

A speech-language pathologist helps a non-verbal student communicate by using a SMART Board.

The Matheny School will be holding an Open House on Tuesday, May 21, from 10 a.m.-noon, to showcase its wide range of programs for students with multiple disabilities.

Students served by the school attend either preschool, kindergarten-eighth grade or high school (grades 9-12+). Emergent technologies and communications systems, a “centers approach” incorporating hands-on activities and traditional academics such as biology and U.S. history are all part of Matheny’s comprehensive program. Occupational, physical and speech therapy are provided for all students along with adapted physical education, “21st Century” life skills, social services and psychology.

The Matheny School is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. And, for assistive technology, it is also accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF).

School districts or families can obtain more information about the Open House and register by calling (908) 234-0011, ext. 774, or emailing mathenyschool@matheny.org.

Arts Access at UMDNJ

Untitled, by Chet Cheesman.

Paintings and digital art by artists in Matheny’s Arts Access Program will again be part of a special exhibit, “New Jersey Medical School – ARTS,” to be held from May through August in the Medical Science Building of UMDNJ in Newark. An opening reception will be held from 2-4 p.m. on Sunday, May 19.

This marks the third year that Arts Access will be part of the ARTS exhibit and the second year that three Arts Access satellite programs – the WAE Center of JSDD (Jewish Services for the Developmentally Disabled of Metrowest, Inc.) in West Orange, NJ; the Arc of Mercer County in Ewing, NJ; and Hattie Larlham in Twinsburg, Ohio – will be exhibiting as well.

Arts Access enables people with disabilities to create fine art, assisted by professional artist-facilitators. All artwork is for sale, and proceeds are split 50/50, with half the funds going directly to the artist and half going back to Matheny to cover cost of art materials, stretching and framing of the work. Twelve Arts Access artists will have work on display at the UMDNJ exhibit.

"Baby," by Annie Paloff.


Related school services

Matheny student utilizes a walker, assisted by a physical therapist.

Related therapy services are vital to the core of the Matheny School program. Occupational, physical and speech therapies are integrated into the school program through authentic tasks and settings.

In physical therapy, students utilize adaptive tricycle riding, standing and alternate positioning programs developed by physical therapists. In speech, students are not limited to speech patterns and topics chosen by the curriculum teams. They enjoy phrases selected by either themselves or their parents. Occupational therapy looks to enhance all areas of functional life with a focus towards real world expectations.

For more information about the Matheny School, call (908) 234-0011, ext. 237.

Solutions for schools

Stretching a student’s hip flexors and quadriceps in a physical therapy sesson.

Matheny has dozens of highly skilled professionals with unparalleled depth and breadth of experience who are available to work with special needs students in public schools and provide services that the schools are often not able to provide on their own. These include:

  • Specialized evaluations.
  • Therapy services.
  • Home-based services.
  • Adaptive equipment and technologies.

School district administrators who would like more information, should contact Linda Newsome at 908 229-7342 or email mathenysolutions@matheny.org

Teachers who rock!

Darlene Tammara receives her award from Kim Mulligan, left, co-host of WDHA’s morning show; at right is the other co-host, Jim Monahan.

Matheny teacher Darlene Tammara was one of 23 teachers honored by Greater Media radio stations WDHA 105.5FM and WMTR 1250AM of Cedar Knolls, NJ, at a special dinner held April 23 at Ravello Elegant Weddings & Banquets in  East Hanover, NJ.

The honorees were welcomed by Dan Finn, Greater Media New Jersey senior vice president and regional general manager, and Nancy McKinley, manager of both stations. Then, on-air personalities hosted the remainder of the evening and made a special presentation to each teacher individually.

Four years ago, Tammara started Matheny’s Tea Time Café, a snack bar managed by Matheny students for Matheny employees. Now, in her transition class, she has her students count money from Tea Time sales, enter the results on a special math worksheet and make bank deposits. The students also work on clerical jobs for Matheny and fill packages for Operation Shoebox, an organization that sends care packages to U.S. troops deployed overseas.

Darlene Tammara with her son, A.J., left; husband Tony and daughter Alyssa.


What transition nurses do

Jean Lavelle, RN, Matheny’s transition nurse, center, confers with Lisa McKenna, RN, left, and Dr. Surbparkash Singh, staff physician.

Matheny’s transition nurse program is designed to assist our patients requiring services in other medical settings, both inpatient and outpatient. They understand the needs of our medically fragile patients and make daily visits to acute care settings to provide vital patient-specific information. The result: a smooth transition into and out of these settings, including all ambulatory care visits, too.

The goals of transition nursing are:

• Reduced hospital readmissions within 30 days.

• Increased patient, family and caregiver satisfaction.

• Accurate medication reconciliation.

• Improved communication across healthcare settings.