Orange County Executive Steven M. Neuhaus participated in the Mental Health Association in Orange County, Inc.’s (MHA) 16th Annual Autism Move-A-Thon at Thomas Bull Memorial Park in Montgomery. Neuhaus also unveiled plans about the County’s “ThinkDIFFERENTLY” initiative at the event.
The MHA started the Autism Move-A-Thon in 2004 to recognize those affected by Autism and their families. Approximately one in 68 children in the U.S. are affected by Autism, which refers to a range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication, as well as by unique strengths and talents.
According to Darcie Miller, Orange County’s Commissioner of Mental Health and Social Services, raising awareness about Autism helps more children receive early intervention and any other services they may need. The Move-A-Thon at Thomas Bull Memorial Park included a one-mile walk, raffles, breakfast, train rides, arts and crafts, an obstacle course, and many resources for families.
“The County will continue to celebrate those with autism and highlight their many accomplishments and ‘ThinkDIFFERENTLY’ will certainly be an integral part of that,” Neuhaus said.
“ThinkDIFFERENTLY” is a program started by Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro in early 2015. It serves as a call to action for local residents, organizations and businesses to re-think the ways they relate to residents with special needs. “ThinkDIFFERENTLY” encourages all counties and municipalities to promote supportive environments for residents of all abilities.
Through its Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program, Orange County has supported accessibility initiatives by funding ADA projects at Tommie McDuffie Park in Blooming Grove, the Village Park in Cornwall, Brook Lake Park in Town of Highlands, Benedict Park in the Town of Montgomery, the Winslow Therapeutic Riding Center in the Town of Warwick, and Sally’s Dream Playground, located at Thomas Bull Memorial Park in Hamptonburgh.
The recently created “ThinkDIFFERENTLY” committee will work to expand upon these initiatives and make Orange County a more inclusive community.