Ocean Partnership for Children Celebrates Autism Awareness and Acceptance Month
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TOMS RIVER, N.J. - JerseyDesk -- As April unfolds, so does a profound opportunity for Ocean Partnership for Children (OPC) to amplify its commitment to autism awareness and acceptance. Spearheaded by Melinda Santiago-Owens, MA, IDD Certified Care Manager Supervisor with over a decade of dedicated service at OPC, the organization is embarking on a series of impactful initiatives throughout the month to foster understanding, support, and inclusivity for individuals with autism and other Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD).

One of the cornerstone events of OPC's advocacy efforts is the launch of "POSITIVI-TEE Wednesdays." Melinda, along with a team of IDD Care Managers, envisioned this innovative campaign to not only raise funds for Autism Awareness but also to promote a culture of positivity, kindness, awareness, and advocacy within the organization. "Every Wednesday, staff members are encouraged to wear specially designed shirts or any attire that promotes these values, fostering a spirit of unity and support," noted Santiago-Owens.

Furthermore, OPC is taking proactive steps to engage with the community directly. IDD Care Managers Debbie Gladis and Kelly Joseph hosted a table at the Annual Autism Resource Fair at the Toms River branch of the Ocean County Library on Saturday, April 13th, providing valuable resources and insights to attendees. Throughout the month, OPC is ensuring that IDD Care Managers are prominently featured on all social media platforms, showcasing their dedication and expertise in supporting individuals with IDD.

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At the heart of OPC's mission is the "CONNECTIONS" group, which was established in 2022 to address the critical need for accessible social skills groups for IDD youth in Ocean County. This initiative, led by Melinda and her team, offers youth ages 10-21 a safe and nurturing environment to cultivate emotional wealth, physical health, and social connections. Through CONNECTIONS, friendships are forged, and invaluable support networks are established, empowering participants to thrive and succeed.

Moreover, OPC provides essential assistance in acquiring youth and adults with Intellectual and Developmental Needs access to vital resources offered by the New Jersey's Children's System of Care and Division of Developmental Disabilities various programs. Under the guidance of IDD Specialist Corie Hometchko, OPC ensures that individuals with IDD receive the support and services they need to lead fulfilling lives.

As Autism Awareness and Acceptance Month unfolds, Ocean Partnership for Children remains steadfast in its commitment to advocating for the needs of all Ocean County youth and families including those individuals with IDD and promoting a society that celebrates neurodiversity. "Every individual, family member, caregiver, and friend, experiences autism in their own unique way. Every day, the OPC team is dedicated to honoring the accomplishments of neurodiverse individuals while extending connections, education, and resources to the wider community," noted Victoria Azzopardi, LCSW, CEO of Ocean Partnership for Children. Through education, outreach, and community engagement, OPC continues to be a beacon of hope and support for individuals and families navigating the journey of autism and IDD.

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For more information about OPC's initiatives and resources, including CONNECTIONS group registration and IDD specialist services, please visit the Ocean Partnership for Children website at oceanpartnership.org.

About Ocean Partnership for Children Inc.
Founded in 2005, Ocean Partnership for Children (OPC) is Ocean County's Care Management Organization (CMO). Its mission is to enhance the well-being of youth and their families through natural and community supports. OPC provides care coordination services for Ocean County youth up the age of 21 years who have mental health, substance use, intellectual and developmental challenges. OPC strives to keep children and adolescents at home, in school, and in the community by connecting them to resources that meet their unique needs and help them achieve their goals.

Ocean Partnership for Children is a non-profit organization available at no cost to all youth and families in Ocean County who meet the eligibility criteria of the New Jersey Children's System of care. To learn more, visit https://www.oceanpartnership.org or www.oceanresourcenet.org.

Allison Brown, Design 446

Source: Ocean Partnership for Children
Filed Under: Non-profit

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