The New Jersey State Golf Association annually provides grants to a number of local youth-related organizations. These organizations, both golf and non-golf related, are recognized for their outstanding contributions to children throughout New Jersey.
One such organization, Horizon High School in Livingston, N.J., part of Cerebral Palsy of North Jersey (CPNJ), serves more than 90 students with multiple disabilities from throughout northern New Jersey. Most students have significant disabilities or medical challenges – more than half of students use wheelchairs and more than half of students are nonverbal.
Teachers work hard to create an environment that closely resembles that of a typical high school, including allowing students to participate in physical education class.
At the suggestion of former NJSGA President, Dr. Donald Brief, Horizon requested a grant from the NJSGA Youth Foundation and a donation of $3,000 was made by the NJSGA in support of an adapted physical education program for these special needs high school students.
The grant helped pay for equipment for Horizon’s school basketball program and also enabled the school to purchase equipment that their staff adapted to allow students to participate in golf.
“I became involved with Horizon High School through my wife, Dottie Litwin-Brief, who had worked with her late husband, Thomas Litwin, who was a real leader at the school, along with his friend, Kelly Marx, in helping this organization,” Dr. Brief said.
“Mr. Litwin was a very big contributor in supporting the institution in many ways, and was devoted to it for a long time. When Dottie and I married in 2013, we continued having a great interest in the charity. Dottie has been honored for her work over the years.
“It’s nice of the NJSGA to show interest in these kids. I’m very gratified that this has come to fruition. It is such a nice thing to help these kids,” Dr. Brief stated.
The golf equipment was modified by Horizon High School staff to enable children with disabilities to actually swing clubs and participate in the “golf experience.” Some clubs were cut and customized for use by students in wheelchairs.
“We thank Dr. Donald Brief and all of our friends at the New Jersey State Golf Association for their grant of $3,000. With their support, the high school was able to purchase an array of golf equipment, which they then adapted to ensure all of our students are able to enjoy golf. For many of our students, this is the first time they have been able to experience golf, so there was a lot of excitement. We greatly appreciate the support of the NJSGA for his project,” said David Bishop, vice president of development and communication of CPNJ.
“I think what is so amazing about this gift is that it introduced most of our students to golf for the very first time. Most young people, if they do not have the opportunity to play golf, have opportunities to visit a driving range or play miniature golf. But students with disabilities are usually unable to access the courses or the equipment. The partnership between the NJSGA and CPNJ opens up an exciting new world for our students,” Bishop said.
The NJSGA grant also helps fund a basketball program at Horizon.
“Basketball is one of the most popular games for Horizon High students. Two years ago, the school began organizing a basketball team that plays games with other special needs schools. One of the two portable basketball hoops recently broke- so funding was requested to purchase a new one,” Bishop said.
CPNJ is dedicated to enhancing the lives of people with disabilities and other special needs by supporting personal growth, independence and participation in the community. Founded in 1953 to meet the needs of children with cerebral palsy and their families, CPNJ has steadily grown and now delivers life-affirming services to infants, children, adults and their families throughout northern New Jersey through 19 program locations each year. Not limited to serving consumers with cerebral palsy, CPNJ provides specialized programs to meet a wide range of educational, therapeutic and social needs of people with various disabilities. CPNJ is an independent, nonprofit organization, with no affiliation to United Cerebral Palsy or any other national or statewide organization.
Horizon High School serves more than 90 students, ages 14-21, with multiple disabilities from throughout northern New Jersey (younger students attend Horizon Elementary School, also in Livingston). The staff invests significant time and effort to adapt equipment to allow all our students to participate in the same sporting opportunities as their non-disabled peers.
Horizon High School offers a rigorous and comprehensive program that combines special education with physical, speech and occupational therapy and supplements this program with state-of- the-art educational technology, medical supports and a job training and placement program to prepare all students for a successful transition to adulthood.