Winter Blast offers place for those with special needs to connect

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PHOTO COURTESY OF JULIANA YELLIN
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PHOTO COURTESY OF JULIANA YELLIN
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EAST BRUNSWICK — In order to create a social gathering where residents and people with special needs can connect, Disability Allies held its first “Winter Blast” event.

“Disability Allies is an East Brunswick-based non-profit organization that helps people with disabilities both in their homes and in their communities through different types of services, job and life coach support and social activities,” said Ross Yellin, the organization’s CEO.

The organization was founded in January 2015. Yellin was the main co-founder, working with co-founder Sean McDevitt and Operating Officer David Kaiserman.

“After holding a successful autumn holiday bash in 2017, our organization decided to expand on the idea and hold its first ever Winter Blast,” Yellin said.

More than 195 locals attended the event on Jan. 13, held at the East Brunswick VFW Post.

“The goal was to bring together the local community and our participants from around the state to one location to celebrate and enjoy the company of others in a winter/holiday theme based social event,” Yellin said.

The event included food, team building activities, a deejay and motivational speeches. Mayor Brad Cohen also attend and spoke during the event.

The event has a personal connection for Yellin, who has been diagnosed with Tourette syndrome, anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder.

In 2010, Yellin was accepted into the American Association for People with Disabilities (AAPD) internship program. During the internship, he lived with 30 other young adults with a large variety of disabilities including autism, bipolar disorder, learning disabilities and physical handicaps.

“Despite our different disabilities we were able to relate to one another on a deep and personal level. We all struggled to fit in and adapt to society, make friends and find appropriate accommodations and advocate for ourselves,” he said. “I found a lack of services that catered to fostering interpersonal communication for youth with disabilities. This motivated me to create Disability Allies in order to connect young adults with and without disabilities in a social environment.

According to Yellin, the organization currently runs support services and social activities to help those with disabilities integrate and receive supporting while in their homes and around the community, respectively.

“Our social activity division gives a place for those with and without disabilities to enjoy team building, board games, dances and other activities,” Yellin said. “Our soon-to-be open community inclusion center [on Route 18] will feature many different kids of workshops that meet the needs of STEM (science, technology, engineering mathematics), art, social and relationship management,” Yellin said.

 

For more information about Disability Allies or for updates on the opening of the inclusion center, visit www.disabilityallies.com/about-us or the organization’s Facebook page.

Contact Vashti Harris at vharris@newspapermediagroup.com.