The Bayonne Special Education Parent Advisory Council (SEPAC), in conjunction with Bayonne city officials, the Bayonne Board of Education, and several regional law enforcement agencies, held an event called Calming Sirens in 16th Street Park on Sept. 19.
The event is similar to National Night Out, in that it brought out scores of first responders from the city police and fire department, this time to meet Bayonne residents who have special needs of all kinds.
16th Street Park is fully accessible, and has an all-accessibility playground. There were no loud sirens or noises, a sensory table was set up for anyone who needed a break, and first responder organizations were there to meet residents in a calm atmosphere that was accessible and inclusive of people with special needs.
Typically, National Night Out is a packed event, with revving engines, pumping music, and sirens. For obvious reasons, it’s not conducive to the special needs community.
A quiet alternative
Various sensory processing abilities presented by autism spectrum disorder, along with other conditions, would make National Night Out difficult to process for those with special needs who make up a significant portion of the population.
Devoting the night to the special needs community also allowed the event’s organizers to help children and adults with a wide variety of special needs interact with local law enforcement officials in a welcoming way.
Participants got plenty of face time with emergency personnel, as they checked out the fleet of vehicles both inside and out. The event was met with beautiful weather. Attendees were informed about public safety resources in the mix of fun activities.
Bayonne SEPAC’s communications officer, Elisha DeMaria, was one of many coordinators who said that the second annual event went off without a hitch, and brought smiles to the faces of those who attended.
“Calming Sirens” also drew several special needs resource groups and vendors, who staffed tables, including the Windmill Alliance, Infinite Therapy Solutions, Rapha Wellness Center, Hybridge, British Swim School, and BCB Bank. Doughnuts were provided by Judicke’s Bakery.
SEPAC holds monthly meetings. Anyone with a child receiving special education in Bayonne may attend.
Participating agencies included the Bayonne and IMTT Fire Departments, the Bayonne Police Department, the city’s Office of Emergency Management, the Hudson County Sheriff’s Department, McCabe Ambulance, the Port Authority of NY and NJ, the Bayonne Police Explorers, and the Coast Guard.