Special Needs Programming is Back in Moorestown

The SMASH (social meeting after school hours) program is open to residents and non-residents.

CHRISTINE HARKINSON/The Sun: The entrance to Moorestown High School, where transportation will be provided for students who are enrolled in the SMASH (Social Meeting After School Hours) program and SMASH Too program. Transportation will also be provided by William Allen Middle School.

This October, in-person, after-school programs for individuals with special needs are back at the Rec Department. The “SMASH” (social meeting after school hours) program has been the cornerstone of the Rec’s special needs offerings for eight years. It is open to residents and non-residents for a nominal fee of $30 for each 10-week session.

SMASH is a structured, yet relaxed couple of hours where kids socialize and engage in various activities. Stations are set up for arts & crafts, kitchen/culinary and games and each week there is a group activity of either karate, yoga, or a music sing-along/jam session. The kitchen component is always a favorite where kids learn basic kitchen skills and prepare healthy dishes – from smoothies to calzones under the guidance of the Rec’s own, Chef Katie Sklarow. Seasons and holidays are celebrated, and dancing is always encouraged.

For high school students in 9th grade through age 25, SMASH meets on Thursdays, Oct. 7 through Dec. 16 from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. “SMASH Too” was added in 2019 for middle school children in grades 7 and 8. SMASH Too meets on Tuesdays, beginning Oct. 5 through Dec. 7 from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Transportation is provided from the William Allen Middle School and the Moorestown High School.  

The special needs vocational program, ‘Bow Wow Bakery’ will also be back this fall. High school students who are multiply disabled, ages 14 to 21, learn to prepare and bake human-grade dog biscuits. This is a partnership between Moorestown High School’s ‘Structured Learning Experience/Workplace Program’, and the Moorestown Rec Department. The components of working at the bakery teaches the logistics of getting to work, structure, managing time as well as providing occupational therapy – hand strengthening, balance, motor skills, and hand eye coordination.

The dog treats are available through local businesses, currently you can find them at Moorestown Hardware and Moorestown Town Hall.  

Both Bow Wow Bakery and SMASH received awards for ‘Excellence in Therapeutic Programming” from the New Jersey Recreation and Park Association (NJRPA) in 2021 and 2018, respectively. NJRPA was founded in 1928 and recognizes outstanding Recreation and Park agencies for their work in programming, publicity and facility design. It is comprised of 700 volunteer members who are non-profit, private and faculty in all aspects of recreation, health and conservation.

Please visit www.moorestownrec.com for more information on these and other programs.