EAST ORANGE, NJ — Nadine Wright Arbubakrr and the contingent of children and families who take part in the sensory-friendly activities that her autism-awareness organization, Nassan’s Place, offers had some of the best seats in the house at Madison Square Garden in New York City on Sunday, July 10, to watch the WNBA game between the New York Liberty and the San Antonio Stars.
It was all part of the NY Liberty Autism Awareness Day program, for which the team and the WNBA demonstrated their support for autism awareness. It was also a great opportunity for Arbubakrr, her husband, Hassan, and their son, Nassan and the other families they support to enjoy “a day of autism awareness and fun for the whole family.”
“We’re a 501(C)(3) nonprofit organization, helping to make a difference in the lives of children and families affected by autism, based pretty much in East Orange, an Essex County community, but our organization is helping children in and around underserved communities in Essex County,” said Arbubakrr on Sunday, July 10, at the game.
“We’re representing Autism Awareness Day today at MSG with the NY Liberty versus the San Antonio Stars. This is our second year here, representing autism and bringing awareness to this life-changing disorder. Anytime I think that we can have an opportunity to bring awareness to autism to educate our community, I think that we can educate we can stomp out ignorance and gain acceptance and, if we gain acceptance, we can get help and support for these families who truly need additional resources, such as an after-school program, Saturday program (or) social outings.”
This year for the first time, Arbubakrr said, some of the autistic children she works with were allowed to participate by serving as ball boys and ball girls during the game. She said the children worked in rotating pairs, which allowed most of those attending to have the experience.
But as enjoyable as the game was, Arbubakrr and the members of the Nassan’s Place executive board and volunteers who came along, also worked at MSG that day. There was a table set up in the arena on the promenade with information about autism awareness, Nassan’s Place and other organizations that work with autistic children, adults and their families.
“It’s important to share and just help out,” said volunteer Carla Gomez, 22, a recent graduate of Essex County Community College, who has already enrolled in Montclair State University to pursue an advanced degree in special education. She was manning the table so the Nassan’s Place children and their families could enjoy the game, which Liberty won.
“Nadine’s story is very inspiring and I think that the most important part is that she’s able to bring awareness at such a big event. There’s a lot of kids coming up and everybody’s different, so it’s great to include them in a social event.”
Edward King, who volunteered with Gomez, said he believes Nassan’s Place teaming up with MSG and the WNBA to educate fans about autism is a good thing.
“This is a good cause and I love to give back, because I think that it’s important for everybody to play their part and do their part,” said King, a student at Kingsborough Community College in Brooklyn, on Tuesday, July 11. “I think that it’s extremely important, just because the WNBA and Madison Square Garden have the platform and the means to spread the word and educate people about autism awareness. When you do have that ability, you should do your utmost to give back to the community, because these are the people that support you, so why not support them in the same way?”
To learn more about Nassan’s Place and autism awareness, visit www.nassansplace.org.