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Passaic County To Showcase Determination, Art Of People With Disabilities

The collage shows a sampling of the artwork created by Passaic County residents with disabilities in 2016.
The collage shows a sampling of the artwork created by Passaic County residents with disabilities in 2016. Photo Credit: Submitted
Janice Sangle speaks during the 2016 Passaic County Champions of Disabilities Awards and Art Showcase.
Janice Sangle speaks during the 2016 Passaic County Champions of Disabilities Awards and Art Showcase. Photo Credit: Janice Sangle
The 2016 Passaic County Champions of Disabilities Awards and Art Showcase took place in Paterson.
The 2016 Passaic County Champions of Disabilities Awards and Art Showcase took place in Paterson. Photo Credit: Janice Sangle

WEST MILFORD, N.J. – Janice Sangle of West Milford is amazed by the different ways people with disabilities adapt and express themselves.

She has met a woman who dances using her wheelchair, and viewed beautiful artwork created by someone who is non-verbal.

“This one individual really was able to express themselves artistically even though they could not express themselves verbally, which speaks volumes right there,” said Sangle, vice chairwoman of the Passaic County Advisory Council on Disability.

Sangle, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1992, was introduced to both the wheelchair dancer and the non-verbal artist through the Passaic County Champions of Disabilities Awards and Art Showcase.

The program was started by the council and the Passaic County Board of Chosen Freeholders in 2011. It highlights the abilities of people with disabilities and recognizes those determined to advance their cause.

The program is two-fold, Sangle said.

The Champions of Disability Award is given to Passaic County groups or individuals determined to significantly advance the cause of people with disabilities, whether by being a model of perseverance for their peers or spearheading efforts to recognize their potential.

In the past, the award has been granted to honorees such as the woman who inspires others by dancing in her wheelchair, and an Eagle Scout who built a viewing station at a field, so people with disabilities could better watch ceremonies and sporting events, she said.

The program also showcases the art of people from throughout Passaic County with disabilities -- such as autism, multiple sclerosis and developmental disabilities.

The two aspects of the program will come together during an October awards ceremony in Paterson, where the artists’ work will be displayed on a digital slideshow and awardees will be recognized.

The county is accepting Champion nominations through September 5, and art submissions through September 13.

For more information on how to nominate a Champion or submit artwork, CLICK HERE or email Kristy Justiniano at Kristyj@passaiccountynj.org.

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