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Jersey City Expands Programs for Children With Special Needs

By metrostaff on
Jersey City

By: Yuritza Arroyo 

Jersey City officials  join the Department of Recreation & Youth Development to announce the expansion of Jersey City’s special needs programming, enhancing inclusive recreational and educational experiences for children of all abilities citywide with a brand new Special Needs Social Club and upcoming dessert decorating events with Carlo’s Bakery - all under new leadership with the hiring of the City’s first Special Needs Recreation Programming Specialist.

According to officials, the additional adaptive and special needs programming will facilitate the development of recreation skills, socialization, independence, and overall quality of life.


“This December, we’re launching a new Special Needs Social Club to host events every Tuesday that offer socialization and organized activities for Jersey City’s children and young adults with special needs,” said Mayor Fulop.

“Since expanding the Department of Recreation to include Youth Development, we have been successful in establishing new programs and enhancing existing recreation to be more inclusive of everyone’s abilities and interests, ultimately attracting more children to participate in skill-building experiences that help create a solid foundation for a prosperous future.”

On Thursday, Jersey City will host the first inclusive Holiday Dessert Decorating Class with special guest Mauro Castano from Carlo’s Bake Shop to celebrate the expansion.

The dessert decorating classes for special-needs individuals will take place on October 27 and November 4 from 4-6 p.m.

The Fulop Administration’s ultimate goal is to provide all youth in Jersey City with the opportunity to play a team sport, participate in a social recreation program, and make physical gains in coordination and endurance.


To support the expansion of special needs recreation programming, Jersey City is proud to introduce Ryan Magee, the first special needs recreation programming specialist, who will coordinate and implement these expanded programs.

He brings more than ten years of experience in the field of special needs and recreational activities.

“The vision of these programs is that no matter who you are, you have a purpose in this life, no matter your disability, and have a right to participate in community activities.

With ongoing support and encouragement, the department truly believes anyone can have fun,” added Ryan Magee, Special Needs Recreation Programming Specialist.

Current programming tailored to children and teens with special needs includes adaptive sports and social opportunities such as kickball, flag football, and bucket drumming.

The department will now offer one self-contained special needs program for every season while incorporating more events, trips, and family-themed programming.

Each Recreation and Youth Development program includes activities to improve participants’ mental and physical wellness.

Positive reinforcement from trained staff help boosts participants’ confidence as they reach new milestones during each session.

All program participants will enjoy low-impact activities to improve strength while reducing obesity and other health issues.

As a whole, the special needs programs seek to provide a source of positive youth development and recreational enjoyment within the community.

Participants will use their skills to showcase their growth, creativity, and growing independence.

“We want to make sure all of our youth in Jersey City get to participate in enriching recreational and educational programs where they can simply be themselves while developing social skills, establishing meaningful friendships, and learning new abilities,” said Lucinda McLaughlin, Director of the Department of Recreation and Youth Development.

The Department of Recreation and Youth Development’s Special Needs Programs currently include Bucket Drumming every Wednesday from 6:15-7 p.m., Holiday Dessert Decorating Class on October 27 and November 5 from 4-6 p.m., and Friday Night Kickball 5-6:30 p.m.

Upcoming programs include the Special Needs Social Club on Tuesdays from 5:30-7 p.m. where individuals with disabilities can meet up and engage in activities that will provide a space of their own to socialize and hang out.

For more information and to register, please visit