Paterson school district holds walk and activities fair to close out Autism Awareness Month

There are six autism education programs in the district, and this event was the first time some of the students met.

News 12 Staff

Apr 29, 2023, 12:13 AM

Updated 447 days ago

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Students and teachers in Paterson celebrated the end of Autism Awareness Month with a walk and activities fair.
There was dancing, sliding and walking at Bauerle Field in Paterson Friday afternoon – all to raise awareness about autism.
“We may be different, but that makes us special,” says student Kaliyah Evans.
Teacher Christopher Albuquerque joined in on the fun, as he relished in many of his students stepping out of their comfort zones.
“They’re able to spread their wings and fly because the kids around them are their own. They don’t feel ridiculed,” Albuquerque says. “They don’t have the pressure of someone staring at them. No, everyone is looking at them with love.”
This is the first time the district has had the event as it joins schools from across the state to try to get back to some sort of normalcy since the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’re really trying to do as many new things to get our children out, to get them socializing because they were remote for so long,” says Paterson School Superintendent Eileen Shafer.
The district is also trying to normalize the different types of schooling available for students with autism.
Some of the programs allow for students like Evans to learn independence and join the workforce.
“Now they’re front and center. Now they have a voice, and now, with events like this, we’re giving them a voice to be heard,” Albuquerque says.
And many say that it is paying off.
“It feels like it’s a paradise that I really dream about having and working my whole life,” says Evans.
There are six autism education programs in the district, and this event was the first time some of the students met.


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