Kristen O’Dowd of Colts Neck, NJ, right, and Cheryl Wieczorek of Middlesex, NJ, help Matheny student Megan Blaxill make her luau mask.
“I just want to make sure they are having a good time.” That comment typified the enthusiastic spirit of several Janssen Pharmaceuticals volunteers who recently helped Matheny School students celebrate an end-of-the-year luau. The volunteers, from Janssen’s Raritan, NJ, offices, participated in several activities including mask making and adapted sports games.
The visit was part of a program called Days of Caring in which groups of Janssen employees work together to help further the missions of non-profits. The Days of Caring events, according to the Janssen website, “give employees the opportunity to give back to their communities and take part in rewarding volunteer experiences.” Janssen, a pharmaceutical company of Johnson & Johnson, provides medicines for an array of health concerns in several therapeutic areas including attention deficit hyperactivity, general medicine and mental health.
The Janssen volunteers gathered outside for a group photo at the end of the day.
Matheny athletes took home nine Gold and six Silver medals at the 2015 New Jersey Special Olympics Summer Games held at the College of New Jersey. Misty Hockenbury, Lee Lubin and Shaleena Tomassini won two Gold Medals each: Hockenbury and Lubin won their Gold Medals in the 25-meter motorized wheelchair obstacle race, and 50-meter motorized wheelchair slalom; Tomassini won for the 100-meter wheelchair race and the 200-meter wheelchair race. Other Gold Medal winners were Bari-Kim Goldrosen for power lifting; Jameir Warren-Treadwell for the wheelchair tennis ball throw; and Ellen Kane for the 25-meter motorized wheelchair obstacle race.
Silver medals were won by Yasin Reddick in the 30-meter wheelchair motorized slalom and the 50-meter motorized wheelchair slalom; Amanda Kochell and Jason Weiner for bocce mixed doubles; Warren-Treadwell for the 25-meter wheelchair race; and Kane for the 50-meter motorized wheelchair slalom. Kochell and Weiner also won a Silver medal bocce unified, in which they teamed up with two Matheny staff members, recreation therapists Shannon O’Brien and Meghan Walsh.
Misty Hockenbury, left, and Ellen Kane celebrate their wins in the 50-meter motorized wheelchair slalom.
The unified bocce team, from left, Shannon O’Brien, Jason Weiner, Meghan Walsh, and Amanda Kochell.
Competition in Special Olympics is part of Matheny’s recreation therapy program, which provides students and patients with a variety of recreational opportunities and resources to improve their physical, emotional, cognitive, and social well-being.
The building of the Matheny Center of Medicine and Dentistry was a top priority for Steve Proctor when he joined Matheny as president in 1998. The Center was completed in 2003 and continues to serve both Matheny’s inpatients and people with disabilities in the community who need medical and dental care by doctors and dentists who understand how to treat and care for them.
Steve Proctor, speaking to the crowd of well-wishers. From left, Friends of Matheny Nancy Hojnacki, Jean Wadsworth, Edana Desatnick, Karen Thompson.
So, it was fitting that the building should be renamed The Steven M. Proctor Medical Building after Proctor, who retired in December 2014. On June 9, 2015, the Friends of Matheny held a dessert reception there to unveil a portrait of Proctor, created by artist Joseph Sundwall. Proctor, clearly moved by the event, thanked all the people he had worked with through the years, whose top priority, he emphasized, has always been the care and well-being of Matheny’s students and patients. He added that the opportunity to be at Matheny was “a gift from God.” He also expressed appreciation for all the contributions made to Matheny by the Friends of Matheny and paid a special tribute to former chair of the Board of Trustees, Daniel McLaughlin.
After the work was completed, the Goldman Sachs group gathered in the Matheny lobby for a group photo.
The rains came, and so did the Goldman Sachs volunteers. As part of a global volunteer initiative called Community TeamWorks, several volunteers from Goldman Sachs offices in New Jersey and New York visited Matheny on June 5, completed major renovation projects on Matheny’s grounds and installed lots of new plants and flowers. The weather didn’t exactly cooperate, but, donning ponchos and other rain gear, the GS volunteers completed their outside tasks and still had time to tour Matheny and visit some of the classrooms.
Goldman Sachs volunteers braved the elements to work in the garden outside the Matheny Center of Medicine and Dentistry.
Under the Community TeamWorks program, some 50 GS offices partner with more than 900 nonprofit community partners worldwide.
Matheny’s Arts Access Program will receive a Leadership Award from the Cultural Access Network Project (CAN), a program of the New Jersey Theatre Alliance and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. The award, “for enabling people with disabilities to express themselves with true creative liberty, and to share their works with the public,” will be presented as part of a day-long CAN Awards event being held June 18 at the Grounds for Sculpture in Trenton, NJ.
Arts Access enables theatre artists with disabilities to develop plays, working with professional actors. From left in back, actors Heather Kelley, Samuel Stricklen and Cara Gansk of Premiere Stages; in front, playwright Tatyana Manousakis, Arts Access performing arts coordinator Burt Brooks, and playwright Cheryl Chapin. (photo by Jerry Dalia).
The Arts Access Program uses a unique method to ensure complete creative ability of its artists, most of whom are in wheelchairs and have limited mobility of their arms and legs; many are also non-verbal. Facilitators, who are trained artists, work with the Arts Access artists to execute the artwork they envision, whether it’s painting, choreography, playwriting or other disciplines. Matheny, said Eileen Murray, director of Arts Access, is “thrilled and honored to be receiving the Leadership Award. The fact that a program such as CAN exists here in New Jersey is a sign that the future of arts and disability is a bright one.”
Jackson Ketterson gets some pointers from Matheny student, Jameir Warren-Treadwell.
“It’s really fun! It’s a new style of playing.” That’s how Jackson Ketterson, a fourth grader at the Far Hills Country Day School (FHCDS) described the adapted versions of traditional sports demonstrated during a recent visit by students and staff at Matheny. The FHCDS students tried their skills in such activities as adapted basketball, wheelchair obstacle courses, and a special ball toss. “It’s really cool how they do things,” said Marissa Mikosh, and another student simply described the experience as “awesome.”
The visit had several objectives: to show the FHCDS students how their peers with disabilities can enjoy many of the same activities they do; to lessen unease about how to interact with people with disabilities; and to replace that unease with a sense of camaraderie as the two groups competed on a somewhat level playing field.
Far Hills Country Day is an independent, co-educational pre-kindergarten through grade eight school in Far Hills, NJ.
Marissa Mikosh tries out a power wheelchair.