Opportunities Knock at Abilities Expo
Livingston hosted its first Abilities Expo on Sunday, April 30, providing education, services and technologies to help meet the needs of persons with special needs. More than 90 staff members of the school district's Student Services department helped plan the event, their enthusiasm for the day as bright as their pink T-shirts.
The expo, presented by the Livingston Public Schools Department of Student Services and the Livingston Advisory Committee for Disabilities, provided opportunities for families to explore the varied resources available in the community. More than 25 exhibits previewed a wide ranges of services, including guide dogs, adaptive clothing, counseling, Special Olympics, equestrian therapy, and the high school’s Career Internship Program.
Livingston resident Bruce Freeman kicked off the event with the keynote address “Turning Adversity into Opportunity,” sharing personal anecdotes and stories to shine the spotlight on the inspirational themes of perseverance, hope, perspective, and sense of humor.
Mr. Freeman wears many hats: entrepreneur, author, professor. Most recently, proving his resilience in the face of adversity, he’s added one more, motivational speaker.
“You can look at adversity or adverse situations in one of three ways -- either as a problem or a challenge or an opportunity. We all know what a problem is. A challenge makes it sound difficult. I prefer to look at it has an opportunity,” he said.
Mr. Freeman shared techniques for transforming adversity through a positive mindset. Diagnosed with multiple sclerosis nearly a decade ago, he leads a life of normalcy, purpose and accomplishment, maintaining a public relations and consulting practice, teaching at Seton Hall University and writing a syndicated column. “That’s who I am,” he said, “and I never want to be defined by my disability.”
Demonstrations throughout the day focused on augmentative and alternative communication, occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, art therapy, music therapy, mindfulness and yoga. Members of LHS Theatre performed stories about children with disabilities.
“This has been a dream of mine,” said Lisa Steiger, Assistant Superintendent of Student Services. “I am truly grateful to the LACD and the staff in LPS for the commitment of their time, creativity, and energy in making this dream a reality.”