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Contact: Paul C. DiNero

Kean University to Host Special Olympics Young Athletes Program

UNION, NJ - Kean University’s Department of Occupational Therapy (OT) will host the Special Olympics New Jersey Young Athletes Program (YAP) on Sunday, April 18, from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. in Harwood Arena, located at 1000 Morris Avenue in Union, N.J.

The YAP introduces children with intellectual disabilities to the world of sports. It is designed for children ages 2 ½ to  7, and serves as the foundation for play, fun and future participation in the regular Special Olympics program for people ages 8 and older.

“The program is fascinating because it focuses on what children are capable of doing and want to do,” said Mary Falzarano, assistant professor of OT and coordinator of the YAP at Kean. “Students will learn to connect theoretical, clinical, client-centered practice and their knowledge of the human body and movement to meet the needs of the young athletes.” 

More than 120 students, faculty and staff from Kean’s occupational therapy, special education, therapeutic recreation and physical education departments will volunteer at the event. Volunteers will assist the young athletes and their families in eight sporting events targeting specific basic gross motor and visual-perceptual motor skills necessary as a foundation for the child’s main occupation - play. Children will learn to control movements to participate and play sports, as well as follow directions.

The eight sporting events include:

For more information about the YAP at Kean or to register a child, please contact Mary Falzarano, MHS, OTR, at 908-737-3378 or e-mail or visit

Kean University’s occupational therapy (OT) program is the first accredited program of its kind in New Jersey. The program has been in existence for over thirty years and continues to prepare leaders in the healthcare profession. U.S. News and World Report recently named Kean’s Master of Science in OT program one of the top 100 OT graduate-school programs in 2008.

Founded in 1855, Kean University has become one of the largest metropolitan institutions of higher education in the region, boasting a richly diverse student, faculty and staff population. While Kean continues to play a key role in the training of teachers, it is also a hub of educational, technological and cultural enrichment, offering more than 50 undergraduate degrees and more than 45 options leading to a master’s degree, doctorate, professional diploma and/or state certification(s). Five undergraduate colleges and the Nathan Weiss Graduate College now serve more than 15,000 students.