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Trailblazers at the JCC

September 24th, 2012

Trailblazers at the JCC

By Robin Gersten, Director of Programs for Enhancing Potential, Rosenthal JCC

Locating appropriate after school options for children with special needs has always been a challenge.  Typical day care environments are very hectic and often unstructured.  Organized sports programs do not offer the high degree of support needed, nor do other classes typically developing peers partake in such as dance or martial arts.

As a social worker in a special needs preschool program prior to taking my current position, I would often hear from the parents of graduates looking for a “good fit” for their child after school.  Many had been asked to leave varied day care situation or parents found that classes being offered in the community did not meet their child’s needs.  I found myself hard pressed with regard to where to direct them.  Thus began the thought of developing an after school program to meet the complex set of needs presented by these children.  Upon assuming my present position as the director of Programs for Enhancing Potential for the Rosenthal JCC in April, my first order of business was to develop such an after school option.

Trailblazer at the JCC is a very unique after school social skills program for children with special needs.  Staffed by a certified special educator and assistant, children kindergarten-5th grade from local school districts are able to be transported to the JCC after school.  One-to-one support is available as needed. The children will participate in a variety of “organized” free play opportunities both within small groups and if appropriate, within the larger after school program.  Homework help will also be provided.  As a wrap around program, communication will be maintained with school personnel and other program providers.  Children may attend the program 2-5 days weekly and pick up is flexible, between 5:30-6:30pm.

It is exciting to be able to finally have an appropriate option for special needs children within the community and the program is already getting rave reviews.  For more information do not hesitate to contact Robin Gersten, director of Programs for Enhancing Potential at (914)741-0333 ext 28 or . To read the full flyer from the Trailblazer Program, click here. For additional information regarding special education services or special needs trusts, visit or

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