Children’s Specialized Hospital awarded $250k to help expand disability initiative

Children’s Specialized Hospital was recently awarded $250,000 from the New Jersey Department of Human Services (NJDHS) Division of Disability Services as part of the Inclusive Healthy Communities (IHC) Grant Program to help expand the hospital’s Living Safely with Disabilities and Special Health Needs initiative.

Through a partnership among disability advocates, organizations, agencies, and caregivers, this initiative focuses on equity, and functionality within safety education and injury prevention.

CSH will implement Learn to Live Safely with Disabilities and Special Health Needs, embedding inclusive and accessible education and practices within New Jersey academic and municipal systems with a focus on under-resourced communities.

Learn to Live Safely continues the hospital’s ongoing collaboration with Rutgers University by partnering with their graduate interprofessional programs to develop a model educational curriculum based on the inclusive and accessible tenets of Living Safely.

“With a steadfast commitment to empowering individuals and promoting equitable access, Learn to Live Safely seeks to advance sustainable policy, systems, and environmental change, creating conditions that promote health, well-being, and inclusivity for all,” Keara McNair, doctoral capstone coordinator at Rutgers University said.

Centered on learning and participation, this initiative introduces accessible safety lessons in special education transition programs, educates and empowers emergency responders about sensory and communication challenges; educates and involves disabled residents about emergency preparedness, and expands access to Living Safely education through New Jersey public libraries.

Children’s Specialized Hospital partners with disabled advocates throughout this work to support meaningful inclusion and sustainable safety outcomes for people with disabilities.

“As a to-be participant in this project, and as a person living with significant mental illness, I love how people with various special needs are not only an integral part of the discussion in this project, but indeed the driving force,” Michael Loberfeld, disability advocate said. “Many of the other self-advocates involved have special needs that are different in nature than my own. We all contribute our perspectives. I am impressed and uplifted that even the drafting of the proposal for the grant has been a completely collaborative process, with ideas and language drawn from all of the self-advocates, including myself.”

First launched in January 2021, the IHC Grant Program is an initiative spearheaded by the New Jersey Department of Human Services, Division of Disability Services to support communities and ensure the voice, needs, and safety of individuals with disabilities are included in healthy community planning. The grant program is available to nonprofits, and local county or municipal government agencies.