Nonprofit Helps Disabled Citizens 'Spread Their Wings' in Salem County

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Six years ago, New Jersey became the 14th state in the country to join Employment First, which is a policy that encourages and promotes employment for those with disabilities.

A century before New Jersey officials took the step to benefit those in need of extra assistance, representatives with Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health were already paving the way to make a difference.

Officials with the nonprofit are on a mission to help unlock the potential in those who may have emotional, behavioral, or cognitive differences.

“For a long time, they didn’t really get lots of opportunities to do different things," said Heather Janci, vocational coordinator, Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health New Jersey. "Devereux is such a fantastic company and they really allow them to continue to spread their wings and try things they never thought they would try." 

Well, it’s fun learning how to train the horses and stuff.

Those things include horseback riding and helping to take care of the Raise Your Dreams Farm in Pilesgrove.

“Devereux is willing to always, always think outside of the box," said Jill Mansor, owner of Raise Your Dreams Farm. "When you’re doing equine therapy, obviously there’s a lot of risks to it.”

Mansor said that the benefits outweigh the risks. Those benefits include learning job-building skills, among many others things.

“It teaches the client to listen and follow directions," said Mansor. "And ... it helps them to monitor their behavior because the horse will actually kinda mimic their behavior as well, so it gives them that feedback." 

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“Some of the guys were a little apprehensive when they first started —  they had never been around horses before," said Janci. "It was something they had never done. It’s part of the experience.

"It’s [also] part of new things and overcoming fears and learning to trust things they had never experienced.”

Even though they’re still overcoming obstacles, the program directors cater to their strengths so they can gain experience for the future.

“Well, it’s fun learning how to train the horses and stuff," said Rich Wooding, of Cape May Courthouse, one of Devereux's clients.

“We really try to provide them with a wide variety of activities," said Janci. "[And] to find things they are truly passionate about so that when they do find employment it’s something they truly enjoy and they’re more likely to stay and [be] very successful."

According to studies, hiring those with disabilities increases workforce morale.

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