In October, 2020, Special Olympics New Jersey (SONJ) teamed up with Tom Baffuto, Executive Director for The Arc of New Jersey, along with a number of other organizations who operate group homes around the state, to identify a need for more extracurricular activities for their residents. Many of the individuals in these group homes are also Special Olympics athletes unable to participate in their normal programs due to the ongoing pandemic.
Across the state, athletes voices could be heard loud and clear, “I miss competing with my friends”, “ I miss the thrill of competition”, “Wish we still had the (local/area/state) games to look forward to”, and “We just need more activities”! An action plan was quickly put in place and SONJ was able to answer the need by providing group home activity kits consisting of recreational games and sports equipment.
Each group provided SONJ with a wish list of equipment, specific to each of their facilities, and once the equipment arrived at the SONJ Sports Complex, it was divided up and delivered around the state. The activity kits included cornhole, bocce ball, pickleball, and Wiffle ball sets, along with soccer goals and balls, washer toss games, basketball hoops and basketballs.
“Needless to say, this past year has been very difficult for the individuals we serve who are accustom to being out in the community and attending day habilitation programs. With the colder months upon us, and social distancing still a requirement, staying active is an even greater challenge. That is why we are so appreciative of the diverse items included in the activity kits that will help keep people moving, exercising and engaged in the weeks and months ahead.” – Thomas Baffuto, Executive Director, The Arc of New Jersey
To continue the project of encouraging activity and engagement, SONJ will be running a “Group Home Games” Cornhole Tournament, where athletes can compete against others from around the state each week. Once again, answering the call to “provide more competition opportunities” and working towards getting SONJ athletes back on the playing fields, courts, and in gyms, safely and responsibly, where they belong!
Activity kits have been delivered to the following locations so far:
Read more about each of the locations and activity kit deliveries below:
The Arc of Atlantic County
The Arc of Bergen & Passaic Counties
The Arc of Camden County
The Arc – Mercer
The Arc Ocean – Ocean County Chapter
The Arc – Union County
The Arc of Warren County
The Midland School
Jespy House (not delivered yet)