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HeartShare Human Services receives a nearly $130,000 grant annually from the NYC Council Autism Initiative to fund its programs serving children with autism.
HeartShare, a developmental disabilities services agency, has specialized residential, education, and respite programs for children with autism. The grant-funded programs are housed at HeartShare’s Cuomo First Step Pre-School in Richmond Hill, Queens and The HeartShare School for children ages 5-21 with autism in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn.
At Cuomo First Step Pre-School, where HeartShare educates and supports special needs and typically developing children, the grant funds the agency’s Queens School Holiday Program, where teachers and para-professionals provide educational and recreational activities to nearly 40 pre-schoolers on the spectrum during non-federal school holidays from December to May.
The Holiday Program includes cooking activities, arts and crafts, music, games, sensory play and outdoor time. Children also participate in group and individual art therapy sessions, as well as enjoy visits from educational speakers from the community, like the Alley Pond Environmental Center. This HeartShare program not only benefits the enrolled pre-schoolers, but also alleviates the stress of a parent or guardian who cannot provide care during school holidays.
Additionally, the grant funds an after-school program at The HeartShare School for nearly 30 children on the spectrum from October to June. Teachers and creative art therapists provide a mix of recreational, skill building and social activities. Students enjoy creative arts, including music, dance, art and performance, fitness, a technology club, a service club, and peer-to-peer groups with typically developing children.
The Autism Initiative is committed to improving the livelihood of individuals, families, and communities affected by autism. For more on HeartShare Autism Services, visit https://www.heartshare.org/our-programs/developmental-disabilities-services/autism-services/.