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NJ Human Services partners with the NJ Department of Environmental Protection to expand access to coastal resources for people with disabilities

Partnership Enhances Ongoing Efforts to Create Inclusive and Healthy Communities Across the State

Human Services Commissioner Sarah Adelman and New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Shawn M. LaTourette today announced the Department has awarded additional funding to continue helping communities implement inclusive initiatives that increase recreational access to coastal resources for individuals with disabilities.

The funding was awarded in collaboration with the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

“At Human Services we remain focused on expanding accessibility and inclusion across the state so individuals with disabilities can thrive in the places they live, work, explore and play,” Commissioner Adelman said. “All New Jerseyans should have the opportunity to explore the wonders of the state’s coastal areas and connect with nature. We thank the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection for their partnership and commitment which help make these awards possible.”

“The Murphy Administration is committed to ensuring New Jersey’s diverse outdoor areas are accessible and inclusive for all, including our coastal treasures,” Commissioner LaTourette said. “DEP is proud to partner with DHS on this important initiative to help ensure every visitor can enjoy our coastal areas without impediment.”

Through this collaboration, DEP’s Coastal Management Program will provide additional funding to Human Services’ Division of Disability Services’ (DDS) Inclusive Healthy Communities Grant Program (IHC) to enhance the ongoing work of three current IHC awardees.

The following nonprofit organizations were each selected to receive an additional $30,000:

  • Family Resource Network, Inc. will expand upon a previous IHC grant to develop a tool that can be used to assess the accessibility of coastal resources for recreational purposes to people with disabilities.
  • Pinelands Preservation Alliance, Inc.will build upon a previous IHC grant to focus on increasing accessibility and inclusivity in the enjoyment of natural places in the coastal zone, especially the coastal portions of the Pinelands National Reserve. 
  • Allies in Caring, Inc. will expand upon a previous IHC grant to advise Family Resource Network and Pinelands Preservation Alliance on their efforts to enhance access to coastal resources for people with disabilities for recreational purposes.

 “From making existing nature trails more accessible for people with mobility challenges to developing a monitoring tool to assess disability access in coastal locations, these programs will enhance equitable access to natural areas for New Jerseyans with disabilities,” Deputy Commissioner for Aging and Disability Services Kaylee McGuire said.

“Through this collaboration with the NJDEP, we are continuing to help communities create inclusive community resources and practices so that all New Jerseyans can achieve better health outcomes,” DDS Executive Director Peri L. Nearon said.  “It is important to create environments that are accessible for individuals with disabilities through both land and sea and these grants bring this vision to reality.”

First launched on January 2021, the IHC Grant Program works to support communities and ensure that the voice and needs of people with disabilities are included in healthy community planning.  

The IHC program aims to promote change at the local level by addressing pre-existing physical, environmental, social and economic challenges that prevent individuals with disabilities from having full access to community life that support health and well-being.

To learn more about the 2022 IHC grant recipients, visit here

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