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Hubbard church hosts resource fair for special-needs kids

HUBBARD TOWNSHIP — Wanting to help provide local residents with places they can get answers to questions for their children who may have special needs, a community resource fair took place recently at the Corner House Christian Church.

Hubbard Township police officer Justin Meade said the event brought together different nonprofit organizations and agencies that set up display tables.

Meade, whose son has autism, said many families may not know where to go for information and materials to meet the special needs of their children.

One local organization at the fair was the K-Dogs Kidz — a local nonprofit that presents anti-bullying programs. Don Rozman, founder of K-Dogs Kidz, said they have members present programs in schools and do events such as escorting children in their cars from school or other locations to show support to them.

“We want to show them we support them and they are not the only ones being bullied,” Rozman said.

Meade, who has been active with autism research and awareness, has founded the Autism Awareness Training and Acceptance Program.

AATAP is a nonprofit organization dedicated to training law enforcement, first responders and the public about autism awareness and acceptance, he said.

Meade said they often go to churches and other places to host programs to raise autism awareness.

“Many churches have taken part in programs we offer as do safety forces and area businesses,” he said.

He said the AATAP and Hubbard Township Police Department have had special needs resource fairs at the Corner House Christian Church in prior years, including at Halloween.

“The key is to help people get connected with the agencies that can help them. This event brings the agencies and organizations to the people,” Meade said.

He said plans are to host the free event annually.

Meade said when his son was diagnosed with autism, the family sought information, which was not always easy to obtain.

Meade works to train people at schools, churches, businesses and organizations to be more aware of those with autism.

John Czompoly of Austintown with Afro Dogs Motorcycle Club said his group works with Mahoning County Children Services, Warren Family Mission and other organizations to help children.

Sassy Pickard, owner of F5RS Therapy Bunnies, said the rabbits provide therapy to children and adults and are taken to nursing homes, schools and businesses.

“The children like the calming of petting a bunny,” she said.

The Hubbard Township Police Department has worked to help make first responders more autism-friendly and better serve those with special needs.

He said the police and fire departments provide sensory bags to individuals with special needs.

The township has one sensory bag in every cruiser, and other departments — such as Boardman, Niles and Austintown — have them as well. Venues such as the Covelli Centre and Eastwood Field also have these bags.

bcoupland@tribtoday.com

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