The New Jersey Commission on Recreation for Individuals with Disabilities (NJ CRID) was established in 1980, within the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs through the Office of Recreation. In May of 2012, a decision was made to become an independent entity and to work more closely with New Jersey Recreation and Parks Association. Our core values include 1) Empowerment of individuals with disabilities; 2) Choice; 3) Collaboration and cooperation; 4) Community based recreation inclusion; 5) Increased awareness; 6) Equal access and universal design; 7) Dissemination of resources; and 8) Compassion, integrity, excellence and innovation.
MISSION STATEMENT: NJCRID is a non-profit organization promoting and supporting recreation and leisure services for individuals with disabilities through education and advocacy.
VISION STATEMENT: The Commission leads in education and advocacy for full participation in recreation, leisure services and equal access to life’s opportunities. Our organization provides resources and information to individuals with disabilities, families, professionals and advocates.
NJCRID BOARD MEMBERS
Michele Collins, MS CTRS, CPRP, President
Michele Collins graduated with a Bachelors in Education with honors; an emphasis in Recreation from Northeastern University in Boston, MA. She also earned a Masters in Recreation and Park Administration with honors from Fairleigh Dickinson University in Madison, NJ. She is currently celebrating her 31st year with the Essex County Hospital Center in Cedar Grove. The last 12 as the Chief of Therapeutic Services managing Recreation, Art, Music Therapists and Vocational Rehabilitation and Substance Abuse Counselors. Previously, she worked as a Recreation Therapist at ECHC with mostly schizophrenic patients. She also worked at St. Francis Hospital in Jersey City with behavioral health patients prior to ECHC. In 2004, she became an adjunct at Kean University in Union teaching a variety of classes and mentoring students. Previously she was an Adjunct Professor at Montclair State University. Michele has been very active in her professional organizations since 1980. She has been involved with New Jersey Recreation and Park Association, the Recreation Therapy Foundation and now with the New Jersey Commission for Recreation for Individuals with Disabilities for the last five years.
Megan Schaffer, Vice-President
Megan Schaffer began her full time career in Parks and Recreation with Bloomfield Recreation as a Recreation Supervisor in 2011, and shortly after was promoted to Assistant Director. In 2019, Megan became the Director of Recreation for the Borough of Paramus, where she holds a Recreation Administrator Certificate and serves as a Certified Pool Operator. Throughout her time in Recreation field, Megan has served as the NJRPA District II Representative, a member of NJRPA Public Affairs Committee, and a Rutgers SAFETY Clinician. Megan is currently a member of the New Jersey Commission of Recreation for Individuals with Disabilities since 2019.
Linda Meyer, Ed.D., MPA, BCBA-D, LBA (NY), CPT, Recording Secretary
Linda Meyer has served New Jersey’s autism community since 1975. She has taught doctoral and masters level students in educational, clinical psychology, and applied behavioral analysis graduate school programs. Linda has more than forty years of experience as a public school teacher, advocate, consultant, adjunct professor, educational administrator, volunteer, personal fitness trainer, and non-profit manager. .
Ann Marie Chesterman, Corresponding Secretary
For more than twenty-five years, Anne Marie Chesterman has worked at Kessler institute for rehabilitation. Her primary focus has been with the stroke and amputee population providing recreational and educational programs. Anne Marie is a senior therapist in her current position. She is certified as a recreation administrator since 1980 and became certified as a CTRS in 1996. She facilitates 2 stroke support groups as well as community outreach for health fairs. She has been board member of the NJ CRID since 2015 and is on the Program Planning Committee. She has been the team captain for the American Heart Walk for the last 5 years.
Patricia Papenberg, Treasurer
Patricia D. Papenberg recently retired as a Recreation Program Coordinator from South Brunswick Township Department of Parks & Recreation. Her duties included developing, implementing, and supervising the Preschool to Adults Programs, Summer Parks, Special Events, Co-Volleyball, and Women’s Volleyball. She also schedules two indoor Centers and over 40 athletic fields. Patricia is certified to teach K-12 Health and Physical Education. She is a Recreation Supervisor by the NJ Department of Community Affairs. For more than 25 years, Patricia has been with South Brunswick Township Parks and Recreation. Previously, she was with Princeton YWCA for 11 years as a HPER Assistant Director where she developed, implemented, and supervised parent/child gym, pre-gymnastic, gymnastic, and fitness and sports programs for ages 6 months to adults. Currently Patricia is teaching swimming at the Princeton Fitness and Wellness Center in Montgomery. Patricia has served on the New Jersey Commission on Recreation for Individuals with Disabilities for 12 years and Treasurer for 8 years.
Bobbi Bach Freedman
Bobbi Bach Freedman is a retired Therapeutic Specialist. Bobbi has worked at Camden County Psychiatric Hospital and at Princeton House, a facility that provides both inpatient and outpatient services for psychiatric, substance abuse, and dually-diagnosed patients. Bobbi worked at the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs on a federally funded grant; which offered in-service education for community recreation personnel and others, to learn how to plan and implement recreation services for individuals with disabilities. As a result of work done on the federal grant, Bobbi was involved with the development of the NJ Commission on Recreation for Individuals with Disabilities.
Karen Bourque-Scott’s lifelong career in the recreation field encompassed being a Manager of Recreation in East Brunswick NJ for over twenty years, including the oversight and revamping of the curriculum of the Daisy Recreation Program for Disabled Children and Adults. For New Jersey Recreation and Park Association, she served as District Chair; on the membership Committee; the Therapeutic Recreation Committee; and represented NJ CRID on the NJRPA Board of Directors. She also served on various Program Committees and attended 22 years of Annual Conferences. Retired since 2001, she is still an active volunteer beyond NJ CRID as the Vice President of the Daisy Recreation Program, various positions in her church, and local community.
Leonard Celluro Jr.
Lenny has been in the parks, recreation, and wellness fields for over 30 years. As Director of Recreation in Bloomfield, he was the recipient of the New Jersey Recreation and Parks Association‘s Excellence in Programming Award for their adults with disabilities life skills program “Horizons.” He is currently the Director of Recreation and Community Services in Plainsboro Township where they offer diverse programs and inclusive opportunities for their residents with disabilities, including the Special Olympics-Young Athlete Program. Lenny believes every child and adult deserves the opportunity to participate in recreational programs in a compassionate environment that is both rewarding and conducive to personal growth
Eric Jager is the parent of a teenager with autism and a professional conference director. He has over 20 years’ experience in market research, program development, marketing strategy and sponsorship sales development. He is the owner of a company which has developed and promoted conference programs for publications, associations and business-to-business conference companies. Eric has created and hosted a number of conferences serving the New Jersey autism community on topics including augmentative communication, employment and the transition to adulthood. He has written extensively on issues of importance to the autism and general disability communities and has a Bachelor of Communications from Ithaca College.
Nicole Paulucci serves as the Program Supervisor for the Princeton Recreation Department and among her duties is administering special needs opportunities for the greater Princeton community. Through this important work, Nicole has built critical community partnerships with many organizations including Princeton Special Sports, Princeton Public Schools, and the Princeton Children’s Fund. Nicole is an active member of the New Jersey Recreation & park Association (NJRPA) and serves on a number of NJRPA committees. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Iona College in Speech and earned her Master’s Degree in Exercise Science/Sports Admin. from Montclair State University. Nicole is very passionate about offering individuals with disabilities a multitude of recreational opportunities to improve and promote a healthy lifestyle.
Patricia Swaartz has been a Certified Therapeutic Recreational Specialist (CTRS) since 1982 and is also a Recreation Administrator by the NJ Board of Recreation Examiners; and a Certified Parks & Recreation Professional. She successfully marketed the concept of community-based programs for people with disabilities, establishing and managing the first inclusive recreation program for people with disabilities in the Monmouth County Park System. Patricia had been employed by the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs for more than 35 years, where she started as the Administrator of the Athletics for Individuals with Disabilities Unit to oversee the expansion of the statewide non-profit organization. Patricia has been with the NJ CRID since it was established in 1980 and was the first chair of the Outreach Committee; she served as the Executive Director of the Commission for over 25 years.
John retired in 2018 after 40+ years as a certified professional (CPRP) in the parks and recreation field, on the municipal, county & state level, most recently as the Assistant Director of the NJDEP Division of Parks and Forestry. Before his retirement he was responsible for the overall administration of NJ State Park Service (NJSPS), a system comprised of 40 park areas, over 50 historic sites and villages, and more than 455,000 acres of parklands and forests. John has always been an advocate for barrier-free access to public parks and programs. He is very proud that his barrier-free design of the Marsh Discovery Trail at Richard DeKorte Park, in Lyndhurst back earned four design awards, including the first. NJ Accessible Recreation Facility Award by NJ CRID in 1992. He’s even more proud that 15 years later his son Andrew’s Eagle Scout Project, a barrier-free campsite in Lebanon Township, won the same award from NJ CRID, an award which had since become known as the Ruth Hughes Innovative Accessible Recreational Facility Award, in 2007. John has been a District Fire Warden for the NJ Forest Fire Service for many years. He was also a volunteer EMT and a firefighter for over 20 years. John has been active and continuously registered as a Scoutmaster, Commissioner, Council Board and/or Committee Member with the Boy Scouts of America since he was a Boy Scout himself.