Creating an “Access For All” Committee that will Positively Impact Your Town

Posted By: Ryan Roy on June 23, 6:13 PM

By Ryan Roy
Autism Advocate

Access for All is created by Bergen County’s Division of Disabilities Services, under the leadership of James Thebery, who serves as Director and oversees most of the 70 Towns that are in the County of Bergen.

Each Town has to have its own “Access for All” committee, promoting Autism and Developmental Disabilities Awareness, including Handicap Signs in all Parking Lots, Recreational Programs, having Ambulance, Fire and Police involved when it comes to Emergency Preparedness, especially creating I.D. Cards to Identify each Resident living in their Town, Schools to be updated in understanding what Autism Spectrum and related Disorders are all about, accessibility to places and services that will help an individual get connected.

For an example, in my town in Saddle Brook, last year, when James Thebery, along with Former Member for the Board of Chosen Freeholders, Maura DeNicola, had reached out to Councilman Andrew Cimiluca, about creating an Access for All Committee for Saddle Brook.

It had became an approved Resolution by the Township Council to act as an Advisory Committee, by collaborating with the Mayor and addressing the needs of many Residents that are within the community with Disabilities, promoting compliance with ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act). They had created a $1,500 Fund towards expenses for Events, T-Shirts and etc.

They host a meeting the first Wednesday every month at the Saddle Brook Senior Center at 7PM.

Access for all

The above Logo was created by the Students at Saddle Brook Middle School; it has a Handicap, Deaf, Sign and Developmental Signs, with the colors of Blue and Gold (All used for Saddle Brook Sports Recreation and Schools). We credit Councilman Cimiluca with the concept!

The plan was to host a contest for the Saddle Brook Public Schools, but there were plenty of conflicts that occurred along the way, at least we have it accomplished to create an Identity for Saddle Brook’s Access For All.

On Wednesday, April 27th, Bergen County’s Sheriff Department came to take pictures of the Saddle Brook Residents for I.D.’s, which is very important to use for Emergencies, like a Storm, Fire or anything disastrous, over 10 People have been registered, including me as well.

The Future Goals for Saddle Brook’s Access For All is to have Special Services within SB Public Schools to promote Fliers of events happening, to be distributed in Virtual Backpacks for the Students, even those who are out-of-district be part for a School Function taking place in the evening.

We want to have Saddle Brook become “Stigma-Free”, it is a County-Wide initiative through Bergen County to reduce Stigma associated with Mental Illness.

The Professionals are dedicated to raising awareness of the disease of mental illness and create a culture wherein residents who have the disease feel supported by their community and neighbors and feel free to seek treatment for the disease without fear of stigma.


Joining the Stigma-Free Initiative will:

  • Educate residents that mental illness is a disease and must be treated as such
  • Raise awareness of the prevalence of mental illness in our community
  • Providing residents an opportunity to become involved in their community
  • Allow people living with the disease to feel supported by their community and thus decrease feelings of isolation and shame
  • Link people in need to local mental health resources
  • Raise awareness that care is accessible regardless of income

Download Stigma-Free Tool Kit

stigma free Bergen County

40 out of 70 Municipalities have been declared “Stigma-Free”. For more detailed information in how you can declare your town, as a “Stigma-Free”
zone, please contact:

Michele Hart-Loughlin
Program Coordinator
Bergen County Department of Health Services
Division of Mental Health
One Bergen County Plaza
4th Floor
Hackensack, NJ 07601

I am hoping if some of the towns can initiate their own “Access For All” Committees for this town,
it will be very amazing to have many Residents with Disabilities within Bergen County connect to resources that will make a huge impact for them, using their abilities to contribute for society purposes.

For more details about creating your own “Access for All” Committees in the town where you reside, please contact James Thebery (Director for Bergen County’s Division of Disabilities Services)

Jim Thebery, MA, CSW
One Bergen County Plaza
2nd Floor
Hackensack, NJ 07601
Ph: 201-336-6500
TTY: 201-336-6505
Fx: 201-336-6510

Creating an “Access For All” Committee that will Positively Impact Your Town
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This entry was posted in Ryan's Corner by Ryan Roy.