The Progress Highlights Three 2016 Student Ambassadors

April 21st, 2016

ROSELAND – Three West Essex residents were named Student Ambassadors by The Arc of Essex County and will be honored during the 18th Annual Building Tomorrows 5K Run, 2-Mile Walk, and Family Fun Fest on Saturday, April 16 at Brookdale Park in Bloomfield.

The title was given for their personal connection and passion about developmental disabilities and coincides with April’s Autism Awareness Month.

The ambassadors, Dominique Macaluso, a junior at Mount St. Dominic Academy in Caldwell, and James Hahn and Jackson Shulkowski of The Arc of Essex County’s Stepping Stone School in Roseland, have been using their personal stories to build awareness, rally support, and inspire their communities.

“We are excited to honor their achievements and share their stories with all event participants on April 16,” said Heather Comstock, senior director of Development and Communication at The Arc.

At 16-years-old, North Caldwell resident Macaluso not only serves as a caregiver and mentor for her cousin Salvatore, 21, who is on the Autism spectrum, but spreads mental health awareness in her area and volunteers for the Kiwanis Key Club in Caldwell’s Annual Disabilities Fair at the Turtle Back Zoo, as well.

According to Macaluso, she stepped in to help her busy aunt care for Salvatore after her sister, who assisted him while working towards becoming an occupational therapist, went off to college. Her duties include helping him interact at parties and order at restaurants.

“It’s those type of things, like assisting him slowly so he can do it on his own when he’s alone,” she said. “It’s going there on the weekends, helping him when my aunt has to go food shopping. It’s really assisting my aunt and helping her help him become an adult, know how to act in society, know what’s right and wrong.”

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