Camping & Recreation Home Page | Camp Merry Heart | Hotel & Travel Respites | Foster Care / Sibling Program | Registration Information | Facility Rental | Donations & Volunteering | Staff & Summer-Seasonal Employment Info | Contact Us! | Camp Merry Heart Virtual Tour
As a result of the ongoing health crisis related to COVID-19, we are unfortunately unable to offer in-person camp services this 2023 Season. We will continue to plan for a safe return of all our campers in the seasons that follow. We are actively looking at camp facilities and activities to ensure we have the best and safest environment for socialization and recreation. From our “heart” to yours.
- Easterseals Camp Merry Heart
Camp Merry Heart has a number of year round volunteering opportunities for anyone interested in supporting and improving the lives of individuals with disabilities. Volunteer opportunities range from grounds and maintenance tasks such as painting, construction work, mowing and racking leaves to administrative duties such as supporting with camper enrollment, phoning donors, etc. Whether you have
a day or weekend free or if you wanted to volunteer on a long term basis please contact our office today for the most current volunteering needs.
Easter Seals New Jersey
Camping and Recreation
21 O’Brien Rd, Hackettstown, NJ 07840
Phone: 908-852-3896 | Fax: 908-852-9263
Last updated: February 8, 2022
Friday, May 12, 2023, 9:53 AM
Written by: Elizabeth Van Arsdall Parents who have a child born with Down Syndrome and are having tr…
Written by: Elizabeth Van Arsdall
Parents who have a child born with Down Syndrome and are having trouble making ends meet because of the additional expenses related to their child’s illness can apply for Social Security disability benefits for their child. The Social Security Administration (SSA) pays Supplemental Security Income (SSI), a type of disability benefit, to the parents of children with serious medical conditions. The money from SSI can be used to pay for any of the child’s living or medical expenses, but the parents must keep records showing that the money is spent on the child’s expenses.
Children born with Down Syndrome have either Trisomy 21 Down Syndrome or Mosaic Down Syndrome. Trisomy 21 is the more common type of Down Syndrome. Children born with Trisomy 21 have 3 copies of the 21 chromosomes instead of 2. Children born with Mosaic Down Syndrome are born with some cells with the correct number of chromosomes and others without. Because of that, children with Mosaic Down Syndrome typically have less severe symptoms than children with Trisomy 21.
In most cases, children born with Trisomy 21 automatically qualify for SSI. This is because non-Mosaic Down syndrome (chromosome 21 trisomy or chromosome 21 translocation) has its own listing in the SSA’s Blue Book. However, parents will still need to submit at least one of these reports with the application for disability benefits:
Parents should also submit all of the child’s medical records and a letter of diagnosis with the application. The parents of children with Mosaic Down Syndrome can apply for SSI for their child, but the application process is a little different. For a child with Mosaic Down Syndrome to be approved for disability benefits, the parents need to submit medical records showing that the child meets the requirements in the SSA’s Blue Book for one of the conditions associated with Mosaic Down Syndrome like:
Including medical documentation is the best way to improve the chances that the child’s application will be approved on the first try.
SSI was created to help parents struggling financially to care for a special needs child. As such, the SSA has set an income cap on the program as a qualification measure to make sure that families who really need financial assistance from SSI are able to get it. Parents need to submit either a W-2 or a Federal tax return for each adult in the household that works full-time to show that the total household income falls below the SSI asset limit cap before the child can be approved.
Parents or guardians of children with Down Syndrome can start an application for disability benefits for the child on the SSA’s website or apply in person at their local Social Security office.
The post How A Child With Down Syndrome Can Qualify For Social Security Disability appeared first on Easterseals New Jersey Blog.
Thursday, April 6, 2023, 3:38 PM
March 30th marked the opening day of Major League Baseball. So that’s right… Baseball is…
March 30th marked the opening day of Major League Baseball. So that’s right… Baseball is in full swing!
We thought there was no time better to take a trip down memory lane and showcase some MLB stars with disabilities who didn’t let anything stand in the way of their dreams. Get inspired by uplifting
stories of those who defied all odds and overcame obstacles to make it big on their terms!
Tarik El-Abour is the first professional baseball player diagnosed with Autism. At age 10, he realized baseball was his passion, and he would do anything to play. He was always the first on the field and the last to leave. After many years of practicing, Tarik was contacted by former Kansas City Royals right fielder Reggie Sanders. The Royals agreed to let Tarik join their batting practice. After seeing how easily Tarik fit in with the players, Sanders approached general manager Dayton Moore to offer Tarik a minor league contract. It was right then and there that Tarik El-Abour knew his dream had come true.
Abbott was a true trailblazer; he built himself up despite being told all his life that playing baseball was nearly impossible because he was born without a right hand. Jim Abbott had an unrelenting spirit and sheer determination. He quickly became one of the most celebrated athletes in major league history to have a disability. His crowning achievement came when he pitched a no-hitter in 1993 for the New York Yankees! He proved anything is achievable if you set your mind to it.
Born Deaf in 1968, Curtis Pride’s dreams were not silenced. Pride broke boundaries as he went on to play in the major leagues for 11 seasons. Pride was a multi-sport athlete with a heavy love for baseball. Communicating with signals allowed those who were Deaf or Hard of Hearing to hardly notice a difference. Pride’s best season was in 1996 as a member of the Detroit Tigers when he received a career high of 301 plate appearances. Pride will always be an inspiration that cannot be overlooked!
Chad Bentz was born with one hand, similar to the aforementioned Jim Abbott. Interestingly
enough, Abbott became Bentz’s mentor. A native Alaskan, Bentz also had to overcome geographical obstacles to become a major league pitcher– he’s one of three Alaskans to ever play in the big leagues. Making his MLB debut in 2004, Bentz pitched in 40 Major League Baseball games, displaying that being born with only one hand only made him stronger.
Freddy Sanchez never thought he could do what he loved after being born with a club right foot and a left foot that was severely pigeon-toed. On only his second day of life, he already had casts on both legs, which was the first of many medical attempts to help Sanchez. “Can’t was not in our vocabulary as a family,” stated Sanchez’s mother. Sanchez went on to have a successful career in the Major League, winning a batting title in just his second season in 2006 and becoming a three-time All-Star. Freddy Sanchez was not letting anything get in his way.
Known for his famous nickname “Three-Finger,” Mordecai Brown was the ace right-hander of the Chicago Cubs teams. His nickname was drawn from a farming accident that left him with only three fingers on one hand. This made Brown stand out because he could pitch a baseball like no one else by throwing the ball with a unique and forceful curve that no one could replicate. Brown would go on to win 239 games in the major league, forever being remembered as a force to be reckoned with.
Jim Eisenreich had an astonishing 15-year career in the Major Leagues. He was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome at an early age, but he did not let that stop him from playing the sport he loved. Instead, he became an inspiration to others. Eisenreich and his wife founded the Eisenreich Foundation for Children with Tourette’s Syndrome, letting him travel the world to tell his story. His baseball career had lots of highs, such as hitting a .290 in over 1,400 games played! He continues to be an inspiration to all.
Known for his hitting heroics in Game 6 of the 2011 World Series, David Freese was battling something no one would have known by just looking at him. The veteran infielder had depression, something he’d been living with his entire life. Freese was not one to shy away from help. He’s been very vocal about his depression, and the counseling and support he’s received from family and friends led him to profound improvements. He continued to play the sport he loved and, in 2019, had one of the best seasons of his career before retiring. David Freese is just one of many battling with mental illness and shows that it is never too late to ask for help.
These are just a handful of MLB players who have been able to do amazing things even with a disability. They’re an inspiration to everyone and show that anything is possible!
The post MLB Players With Disabilities Conquered the Big Leagues | EastersealsNJ appeared first on Easterseals New Jersey Blog.
Wednesday, February 1, 2023, 11:41 AM
From Shaquem Griffin to Tom Dempsey, the league is full of inspiring stories. With the big Super Bow…
From Shaquem Griffin to Tom Dempsey, the league is full of inspiring stories.
With the big Super Bowl game coming up, the spotlight is on the NFL. While we have a lot of football fans here at Easterseals NJ, we’re the biggest fans of players making a difference in the disability community. Many of these players created foundations and nonprofits to help others. Below are just a handful of current and former players that showcase that anything is possible.
The former Colts and Cowboys linebacker has been vocal about his struggle with anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder. O’Neill started the 4th and Forever Foundation to help others struggling with mental health.
Marshall, a former NFL linebacker, announced he had borderline personality disorder in 2011. He’s made it his mission to spread awareness and destigmatize BPD. He even started his own nonprofit– Project 375– with the goal of “unlocking human potential through conversation, education, & inspiration.”
Griffin is a former NFL linebacker (and twin brother of Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Shaquill Griffin) born with Amniotic Band Syndrome. ABS affected Griffin’s right hand, causing it to become underdeveloped. Griffin eventually underwent surgical amputation to have the hand removed. Griffin has worked with the Challenged Athletes Foundation, a sports program for those with physical disabilities.
The late Tom Dempsey was a kicker for the New Orleans Saints. Dempsey’s kicking foot was deformed; he wore a special boot while playing. He famously made a record-setting field goal against the Detroit Lions in 1970. The kick resulted in the “Tom Dempsey Rule” which now requires all players to use shoes similar to the NFL standard. Interestingly enough, Dempsey’s custom shoe was lighter than other shoes.
Often called the father of concussion awareness, Boyd is a former NFL offensive guard for the Minnesota Vikings. He founded the advocacy group, Dignity After Football, and famously testified in front of congress regarding the NFL’s disability plan.
Bleier was a former halfback for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He sustained severe injuries to his right foot and leg during the Vietnam War. He wrote a book about his experience, Fighting Back: The Rocky Bleier Story, discussing his injuries and his time in the NFL.
Bruschi, a former linebacker for the NFL and current senior advisor to the head coach at the University of Arizona, suffered a stroke in 2005. After sitting out a season to recover, he was able to continue playing for several more seasons. Shortly after his stroke, he started a non-profit organization, Tedy’s Team, to raise awareness for stroke and heart disease victims while supporting survivors.
Rolle, a former cornerback for the Oilers and Ravens, has been very open about living with epilepsy. While he eventually retired, citing his illness as well as injuries sustained on the field, he’s currently the assistant football coach at a high school in Florida.
Barksdale is a former offensive tackle in the NFL, but his impressive resume also includes singer-songwriter and stand-up comedian. Last year, Barksdale publicly shared his autism diagnosis. He mentioned in an interview with the Today Show that the diagnosis made him feel comfortable with who he is.
LeGrand signed a symbolic contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2012, but he’s never played in the NFL. This college footballer fractured two of his vertebrae in a game against Army, leaving him paralyzed from the neck down. Since then, LeGrand has created a platform to speak out about those living with spinal cord injuries. He partnered with the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation to create the nonprofit Team LeGrand. He’s also an author, sports analyst, and motivational speaker.
Of course, these are just a handful of the many NFL players with disabilities who are making a difference in the world. Who are some of your favorite players and nonprofits?
The post 10 NFL Players Who Overcame Barriers to Their Disabilities appeared first on Easterseals New Jersey Blog.
Wednesday, January 4, 2023, 9:11 AM
In this first blog of a multi-part series, we explore the importance of making sure both public and …
In this first blog of a multi-part series, we explore the importance of making sure both public and private natural resources are available to all who want to enjoy being outdoors in New Jersey.
While there are activities where accommodations may be impossible for some, New Jersey offers a vast array of natural experiences for all.
New Jersey is known as the Garden State but make no mistake, in addition to gardens and farms galore, NJ boasts more than 452,000 acres of natural and historic property including forests, parks, and recreation areas. Visitors are invited to take part in a variety of activities including biking, hiking, camping, boating, swimming, and picnicking.
However, for the many New Jersey residents and visitors with disabilities, the New Jersey State Park Service’s invitation to “take advantage of all our recreational, natural, and historical resources” might seem daunting. They might be “opening a doorway to adventure,” as the park’s website says, but adults and children with disabilities require certain accommodations to take it all in.
As always, Easterseals NJ has you covered. We are committed to making New Jersey accessible, and we do it in a variety of ways. This blog series will be a great resource for New Jerseyans living with disabilities who know that there is nothing they can’t do!
Check out this website: Recreation and Leisure Services for Individuals with Disabilities Resource Directory. It’s a great resource, broken down by county, offering information on outdoor recreation areas that follow ADA guidelines and offer, when appropriate, options for people with disabilities to get out there and enjoy New Jersey’s bounty of natural resources.
The importance of physical fitness isn’t a secret. The ability to be outdoors, breathe fresh air, and enjoy the mental and emotional benefits of our beautiful surroundings knows no bounds, nor disabilities. Access to New Jersey’s natural resources is critically vital to one’s happiness and overall well-being.
That being said, for those living with disabilities, access to New Jersey’s parks and recreational areas can be discouraging. Thankfully, New Jersey (with the help of many private organizations) is committed to making nature as accessible as possible—regardless of one’s age or abilities.
More than the mental and physical benefits of enjoying our natural world, access to outdoor recreation is educationally significant. The more we are all able to explore and enjoy nature, the more we will be able to understand the world around us.
Nature is truly the world’s science lab and every single person should have access to it.
According to a great website, Nature For All (which happens to focus mostly on accessibility for individuals with low vision), “understanding nature and its importance to people and communities around the globe increases awareness of the need to conserve natural areas of our planet and work together to reduce the effects of climate change.”
In our next blog in this series, we will focus on Braille Trails and Sensory Gardens—two important resources for people living with blindness and low vision to learn more about how they can experience New Jersey’s wonderful parks, trails, and gardens safely.
As always, the first step to making New Jersey more inclusive is advocacy. Easterseals NJ is committed to increasing the public’s understanding of the needs of people living with disabilities.
As they say, “the more you know.” Want to be part of the solution? Join the Easterseals NJ Advocacy effort and lend your voice to our mission. Sign up here: I want to be an advocate!
The post Part One: Making Nature in New Jersey More Accessible appeared first on Easterseals New Jersey Blog.
Monday, December 12, 2022, 12:00 PM
It’s that time of year again…time to shop ‘til you drop, find the perfect holiday presents, and cros…
It’s that time of year again…time to shop ‘til you drop, find the perfect holiday presents, and cross out every person on your list.
Regardless of which holiday you are celebrating, unless you started shopping months ago, you still have a long way to go to find gifts everyone will love.
We have a great way to cut down on the hassles associated with dealing with crowds at stores, and you are probably doing it already—shop online! In fact, if you are already a fan of Amazon (or are willing to take a peek) the AmazonSmile program will allow you to get great deals and support Easterseals NJ at the same time!
In other words: every time you make a purchase, a donation will be made by Amazon to Easterseals NJ! Easterseals NJ is dedicated to expanding opportunities for people living with disabilities in the Garden State. Every donation helps us support our participants in their education, careers, and access to the services they need.
AmazonSmile is a way for shoppers to get the items they need at Amazon’s great prices while automatically supporting their favorite charity—Easterseals NJ! You simply visit smile.amazon.com, browse as you normally would and when you make a purchase—bam!—you are supporting a great cause.
It’s quite easy! Visit smile.amazon.com on your mobile device or computer and select our charity – Easterseals New Jersey – from the list of options.
That’s it! There’s nothing else to do except make your purchases as you always do. After you connect your Amazon account with Easterseals NJ as an AmazonSmile beneficiary, the charity will receive 0.5% of every purchase you make!
The post AmazonSmile: Make Purchases & Support Easterseals NJ appeared first on Easterseals New Jersey Blog.
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