MIDDLETOWN, NJ – April has been proclaimed as Autism Awareness Month in Middletown by the Township Committee to help raise awareness about autism.
The proclamation was presented at the April meeting to members of IMPACT OASIS, a non-profit organization establishing farm centers that provide meaningful work, peaceful and healthy residences and community interaction for autistic young adults between 18 and 26.
Middletown Township leases seven acres of farmland at Stevenson Park to Impact OASIS for farming, gardening and horticultural purposes as part of training and assistance programs for autistic individuals. Stevenson Park is located 940 West Front Street.
Last summer they planted about two acres at Stevenson's park. They harvested flowers, asparagus, lettuce, green beans, soy beans, tomatoes, eggplants, potatoes, squash and herbs. Student volunteers were provided through CBA, The Ranney School, High School North and South, and the Boy Scouts. Impact Oasis is extending an invitation to join them as they prepare for a new farm season. They will be planting bulbs, sowing seeds, and planting transplants as a group at Stevenson Park on the following days:
- Saturday, May 1st, 10 a.m.
- Saturday, May 15, 10 a.m.
- Tuesday, May 18, 9 a.m.
Last year, the Township Committee also preserved nearly 26 acres on Sleepy Hollow Road in partnership with the Monmouth Conservation Foundation, Impact OASIS, the NY/NJ Baykeeper and state Green Acres. Impact OASIS will obtain approximately 7 to 8 acres along with a house located on the property for use as a residential farm for autistic adults. The remainder of the space will be preserved for use and open space and recreation.
As more and more health professionals become proficient in diagnosing autism, more children are diagnosed on the autistic spectrum resulting in rates as low as one in 166 children. In New Jersey that number drops to one in every 94 children, according to the proclamation.
Impact OASIS will hold their Second Annual Golf Tournament on Monday, May 24, 2010 at Beacon Hill Country Club to benefit young adults with autism through the OASIS Farm Project. Visit www.impactoasis.org for additional fundraisers and volunteer opportunities.