Clifton Autism Awareness Touch A Truck!


Clifton's Fire and Police Departments ready to show off their emergency vehicles and talk to families at today's Touch A Truck event.

The City of Clifton hosted a Touch-A-Truck event for Autism Awareness Month on Saturday, April 29, 2023, and invited the community to come and get up close and personal with some of the city's emergency vehicles in a sensory-friendly environment. This is the first time Clifton has hosted such an event and it was a success despite the rain. Because of the weather, activities were limited to the inside of Clifton Fire Station Five at 51 Brighton Road, rather than being spread out across the parking lot, as was initially planned.

Abdel Baki and his sons demonstrate their balloon animals from Clowns and Gowns!

Families came out, despite the rain, to introduce their children to the fire and emergency personnel who were happy to show them how the trucks work and explain the details of their jobs. There were lots of happy smiles, face painting with glittery animals, and lots of balloon animals provided by Clowns and Gowns. Clifton Special Education Parent Advisory Group (Clifton S.E.P.A.G.) provided a table with arts and crafts projects and invited parents to join the group. Clifton S.E.P.A.G. provides input to the Clifton Public District about systemic challenges that face students with special needs and their families. The event was a wonderful opportunity to see the various Clifton groups that provide services and resources to disabled residents.

The Guillen Family brought their little unicorn to ride the fire truck!

Clifton’s Fire Department and Police Department were on hand to show the kids their way around a fire truck and to try on fire equipment. There were many happy faces in the fire trucks! Lieutenants Angelina Tirado and Christopher DeLuise were among the fire fighters present with the children. Clifton Police Officer Louis Reza was also there, happy to talk to families. For more on Clifton’s Fire Department, please read our earlier article HERE

Health Officer John Biegel III spoke about the Special Needs List that the Clifton dispatch maintains. This list allows police and firefighters to see if anyone at a home has special needs, like requiring an oxygen tank or being a wheelchair user, in the event they are called to that address in an emergency.

XiXi Murphy poses with Lieutenant DeLuise of the Clifton Fire Department
Lieutenant Angelina Tirado had big smiles for all the kids!

We spoke to Gabriella Marriello, who was honored as one of Clifton’s Women of the Year last month by the Clifton City Council, for her work with Clifton Parents Requiring Action and Information for Special Education (Clifton P.R.A.I.S.E.). Marriello talked about the importance of having children with learning differences and access challenges feel confident interacting with emergency personnel. The environment at the Touch-a-Truck event was specifically designed to be sensory-friendly, in order to be inclusive of people with additional sensory needs. She was speaking with City Council member Lauren Murphy, who is the Council liaison for the Clifton Recreation Department, the organizer of the event.

Council member Lauren Murphy and Gabriella Marriello of Clifton P.R.A.I.S.E. talk about upcoming events for families with children who have special needs.

The City of Clifton Advisory Committee for Individuals with Disabilities was present with Council member Tony Latona, their Council liaison, Colleen Murray, and Cathy Boseski available to answer questions and direct the community towards the resources that the City of Clifton provides for disabled residents. The Committee also works to facilitate the establishment of playground facilities for the use of the disabled and to provide recreational opportunities for disabled youth.  They had bubbles for the kids, because who doesn't love bubbles?

Colleen Murray, Council member Tony Latona, and Cathy Boseski of the Clifton Advisory Committee for Individuals with Disabilities sharing resources (and bubbles!) for the community

The Clifton Autism Awareness Touch-A-Truck event was a great opportunity for families to come and learn about the resources Clifton offers to support disabled individuals, while also having lots of fun exploring emergency vehicles, doing art projects, enjoying balloon animals, and getting faces painted, undaunted by the rain outside.

Clifton S.E.P.A.G. provided fun crafts for everyone and lots of information on advocating for your special needs learners in Clifton Public Schools
All the kids loved the fire truck!

XiXi Murphy poses in fire gear with Lieutenant DeLuise!
Lieutenant Angelina Tirado had big smiles for the kids!
The Clifton Advisory Committee for Individuals with Disabilities sharing resources and bubbles. From left, Colleen Murray, Tony Latona and Cathy Boseski.
Lieutenant DeLuise and Officer Reza are ready to answer any questions!
Clifton S.E.P.A.G. provided crafts for the children, and lots of resources for parents of children with special needs.
Abdel Baki and his sons show off their face paint and balloon creations, made by Clowns and Gowns.
The Guillen family unicorn rides the fire truck!
Council member Lauren Murphy and Gabriella Marriello of P.R.A.I.S.E. discussing events for families with special needs
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