March 22, 2007
Contact: Jennifer Forbes
Phone: (732) 235-6356
The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation Awards Grant to The Boggs Center
to Develop Resource Booklet for Faith Communities on Autism
NEW BRUNSWICK — The UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School is pleased to announce that The Elizabeth M. Boggs Center on Developmental Disabilities, Department of Pediatrics, has received a $15,199 grant from The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation to support the development and production of an interfaith resource booklet on autism and the ways that clergy and congregations can support and include individuals with autism throughout their lifespan and their families.
The Autism and Faith Task Force, a joint effort between The Boggs Center and the NJ Center for Outreach Services for the Autism Community (COSAC), has been working collaboratively for the past year on production of the booklet. The Task Force has been collecting stories from congregations and families about their experience in churches, synagogues, and mosques, helping to sponsor workshops and conferences. The resource booklet will specifically address the integration of individuals with autism throughout their lifespan and their families in faith communities. A similar resource booklet for congregations on supporting people with brain injuries and their families was developed five years ago and has been widely used in New Jersey and nationally.
“We are very grateful to The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation for this support,” said the Rev. Bill Gaventa, associate professor of pediatrics, and director of community and congregational supports at The Boggs Center. “The Fiddle Foundation focuses on projects that support the maximum integration of individuals affected by autism spectrum disorders in the community. For many families, their faith community is a crucial source of support for spiritual, educational, social, and recreational needs and interests. For many others, clergy and congregations have been uncertain or unwilling to include people with autism. We hope that this resource booklet will be a useful starting guide for clergy, laity, and families as they work together to recognize, celebrate, and nurture the gifts of every child and adult.”
The Autism and Faith Task Force anticipates completion of the booklet by the summer of 2007. It also will be sponsoring a conference later in the spring in collaboration with the Autism Center at UMDNJ in Newark. Members of the Autism and Faith Task Force are prepared to offer guidance and assistance to any family or congregation seeking to develop more inclusive faith supports.
For more information, contact The Rev. Bill Gaventa (732-235-9304, email@example.com) or The Rev. Alice Walsh (732-235-9314, firstname.lastname@example.org). Rev. Walsh is the research assistant working directly on the booklet and also is the parent of son with autism. For more information on The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation, visit their website, http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/.
UMDNJ is the nation’s largest free-standing public health sciences university with more than 5,700 students attending the state's three medical schools, its only dental school, a graduate school of biomedical sciences, a school of health related professions, a school of nursing and a school of public health on five campuses. Annually, there are more than two million patient visits at UMDNJ facilities and faculty practices at campuses in Newark, New Brunswick/Piscataway, Scotch Plains, Camden and Stratford. UMDNJ operates University Hospital, a Level I Trauma Center in Newark, and University Behavioral HealthCare, a statewide mental health and addiction services network.