Rockin' the Night Away
Eighteen adults with developmental disabilities put on their dancing shoes this past fall for an eight-week dance program sponsored by Rock the 21. The dancers rocked out while learning the mambo, electric slide, hip-hop and jazz moves, to name just a few. Participants even came dressed in costume for a Monster Mash on Halloween!
The program was topped-off with “Jingle Bell Rock” – a celebratory holiday dinner dance. Everyone had a great time showing off their newly learned dance skills and left with pictures from the photo booth and a gift card to Dunkin Donuts. It was a great way to end the dance program and kick-off the holiday season.
Rock the 21 recently met and spent time with several adults who have DS. Our new friends live in group homes and participate in day-programs offered by Hudson Milestones in Jersey City, NJ. This past December, we helped make their holidays a little brighter by purchasing items off their wish lists. A few of the items purchased included: a winter coat, pajamas, an educational tablet, a watch, and CDs. The surprise gifts were truly appreciated!
NDSS Buddy Walk - NYC
Rock the 21 kicked off Down Syndrome Awareness month by joining more than 2,000 walkers at the National Down Syndrome Society’s (NDSS) Buddy Walk. The walk was started in 1995 by the NDSS as an advocacy and fundraising event, and there are now walks in all parts of the world. Team Rock the 21 participated at the NYC walk in Central Park and a photo of Rocker, Alicia, appeared on the Times Square Jumbotron! Alicia’s photo was selected from thousands of entries in the NDSS worldwide call for photos. The featured photographs highlight children, teens, and adults with DS, reminding the world in a very big way about the contributions and milestones of people with DS. The walk was followed by games, food and fun. Team Rock the 21 was in the top 10 of the event’s donors thanks to the generous contributions of our supporters!
Scholarships Awarded for Early Intervention Program
To help our youngest community members achieve their fullest potential, Rock the 21 awarded $10k in scholarships to the Stepping Stones’ early intervention program. Our scholarship will provide therapy for toddlers with Down syndrome (DS) who would otherwise not benefit from the program due to financial constraints.
Early intervention, which is provided to children with disabilities prior to their third birthday, is a set of critical services — most often speech, occupational and physical therapy — to help improve gross and fine-motor abilities, language skills, social development and self-help skills.
Stepping Stones’ program, which is held in a state-of-the-art therapy and sensory room, provides an interactive environment for the children to work individually and in small groups to acquire skills such as walking and balancing, strengthening their pincer grasp, and drinking from a straw, to name just a few. These important skills will be the foundation for a future filled with many successes and milestones.
HURRICANE RELIEF - Fighting the StormS
Alongside of you, we watched as hurricanes devastated Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico. Rock the 21 made donations to the following TX and FL non-profits, supporting their efforts in assisting more than 30 families in need during post-hurricane recovery. We want to help Puerto Rico! Rock is currently identifying organizations that may need assistance. Do you know of an organization that needs help? Please let us know.
Galveston - Houston Families Exploring Down Syndrome
Down Syndrome Association of Houston
Down Syndrome Association of Central Florida
Down Syndrome Foundation of Florida
Ican bike camp
Rock the 21 was honored to sponsor a young girl with Down syndrome (DS) at the 6th annual Hoboken Bike Camp. The camp teaches individuals with disabilities to independently ride a two-wheel bicycle.
Operated in conjunction with Hoboken Family Alliance and iCanBike, a national, not-for-profit organization, and the City of Hoboken, the camp uses specially adapted bikes that use a roller instead of a rear wheel, allowing participants to become more balanced and comfortable in an accelerated time period. An on-site bike technician and floor supervisor helped advance participants throughout a series of levels, and within five days, participants rode independently! This life-changing program fosters inclusion, acceptance and independence, two wheels at a time.
Rock Travels to nicaragua
Rock the 21 was honored to support the Mustard Seed Community (MSC) in Nicaragua - an international, non-profit organization dedicated to caring for individuals with disabilities who have been abandoned, including those with Down syndrome (DS). This year was extra special as our donations were delivered to Nicaragua in person by Rock families, visiting the former home of one of our rockers, Alicia (click here to read Alicia’s adoption story). Rock families spent a few days meeting with residents at two orphanages, donating much needed supplies, and giving out clothes and shoes. The week ended with Rock the 21 throwing a pizza and ice cream party to celebrate the residents. Thanks to the generous contributions of our supporters, Rock the 21 had the ability and privilege of supporting and serving a community that truly impacts individuals with disabilities! To learn more about MSC, click here
March 21, 2017
MayOR formally recognizes world DOWN SYNDROME DAY
Mayor Dawn Zimmer issued a proclamation to recognize March 21st as World Down Syndrome Day in the City of Hoboken! Mayor Zimmer honored Rock the 21 for its efforts in creating social awareness and educational opportunities for the City, and supporting individuals with Down syndrome.
World Down Syndrome Day Celebration
Each year, Rock the 21 brings individuals with Down syndrome (DS) and their families together to celebrate World Down Syndrome Day. World Down Syndrome Day is observed on March 21st – a date formally recognized by the United Nations to signify the uniqueness of the triplication (trisomy) of the 21st chromosome which causes DS. On this day, people with DS and those who live and work with them, organize and participate in events to raise public awareness and create a voice for advocating for the rights, inclusion and well being of people with DS.
Our celebration exceeded expectations! With more than 50 people in attendance, Rock the 21 hosted a dinner to build a stronger support system in Hudson County. It served as an opportunity for parents to network and share experiences, and for kids to form friendships and have fun!
At the event, Rock the 21 honored Hudson Milestones for their work in helping persons with DS. Their mission is to build and maintain a Hudson County-based organization dedicated to the care, support and advancement of persons with developmental disabilities and their families. To support their early intervention program, Rock the 21 donated a variety of educational toys that stimulate the mind and provide sensory input for children ages 0 - 3 years.
It was a great night meeting new families and celebrating all those who rock that extra chromosome!
Joining the workforce
Having a job is important and fulfilling, but even more so for persons with intellectual disabilities. The satisfaction of a job, financial independence, as well as social interaction provides an important sense of purpose and belonging. Rock the 21 provided a scholarship for six adults with DS to participate in a job sampling program at Employment Horizons — a non-profit organization that provides employment, training and job placement services to people with disabilities. This program provides participants, such as Beau pictured to the right, the opportunity to explore several different careers to find a job that matches their skill set and interests. Career counseling and instruction in job-seeking skills will also be provided.
Additionally, Rock the 21 also provided a scholarship for a three-month training program for one culinary arts trainee with DS. This person will receive hands-on training in the kitchen. When ready to graduate, Employment Horizons will provide the individual assistance in contacting employers and help with scheduling interviews.
SIP & SPIN Parent networking event
In partnership with the Hoboken Special Needs Parent Group, Rock the 21 hosted a night of exercising and networking for parents of children with special needs. The fun workout was followed by conversation, cocktails and healthy snacks! It was a great way to connect with local parents. Many thanks to cycle studio, CycleBar, for offering a free spin class.