Community

Please enjoy updates, photos, & more that involve our community outings & community partnerships.

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Bermuda, Baby!

July 16th – July 21st, 2022

If your definition of a community outing is an international cruise to a Caribbean island then you’re in the right place. Cruise vacations with clients have been a part of Universal for fifteen years, originally started by one of our Executive Directors, Jaymee Bernstein. Although cruise ships became public enemy number one for a while due to Covid-19, we wanted to head back out into the open seas this summer in a safe and celebratory way. This year we set sail to the island of Bermuda, courtesy of the ship Adventure of the Seas from the Royal Caribbean cruise line. Naturally, Universal always does intensive research to make sure all aspects of these cruise vacations are accessible for the clients in every way.

Although more clients and staff were scheduled to attend, last minute complications whittled the group down to a small yet very fun crew led by the all female team of Lauren Dick and Jaymee, Sam, and Lindsay Bernstein. Leaving from Cape Liberty, New Jersey, the stunning Adventure of the Seas had an overwhelming amount of activities for the clients including a fully equipped casino, outdoor movie nights, dancing parties under the stars, a live orchestra, spectacular shows, a whole ‘lot of shopping and delicious food.

The ship also had multiple pools, bars and lounges with magnificent views, a spa, and even mini-golf. And let’s not forget about the destination – for two days while the ship was docked the clients explored their way through the island of Bermuda, soaking in the palm trees and the island breeze. The Universal team made it their mission to ensure the clients had an exciting and relaxing vacation, and everyone returned home refreshed and content. These summer cruises are a tradition at UI Rehab that we hope to continue for many more years to come.

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Book Club Adventures

June 17th, 2022

There’s nothing like getting lost within the depths of a great book – and the clients agree. Book Club is a group therapy session held at our day program led by one of our Speech Therapists, Erin Alvino. We have some (very proud) book nerds here at Universal, so Erin wanted to capitalize on that and incorporate these clients’ love of reading with Speech Therapy. Erin took the initiative to create a group with both clients and therapists alike who all share in their common love of books and stories. Started over a year ago in the spring of 2021, the clients and therapists meet each Friday to discuss the week’s reading assignments, theorize about what’s coming next, and lead discussion groups on topics stimulated by the readings. Each round a different client gets to choose the book that the group reads next, and we’ve covered many different genres so far – from comedy to drama, to autobiographies and mystery thrillers.

Of course, we are never satisfied with average therapy. After receiving feedback from our clients we decided to bring the book club experience beyond the rehab walls, and what better place to hold a book club outing than the illustrious library of Barnes & Nobles? Last week, the speech department led our first Book Club community outing to our local Livingston B&N where they indulged in some afternoon coffee, perhaps a pastry or two, and shared in discussions and readings. The clients also had time to explore the endless rows of bookshelves to add to their personal libraries and to find inspiration for future book clubs. Our book club outing is going to take place once a month, a perfect opportunity to satisfy our hearts’ longing for the library. Because as we all know…

A room without books is like a body without a soul.

Cicero

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UI Rehab Takes Over the 2022 NJ Sharing Network 5K

June 5th, 2022

For the past ten years the UI Rehab facilities in New Jersey have participated in the NJ Sharing Network’s annual 5K run, also known as, “The Celebration of Life.” The first Universal 5K team was formed in 2011 by one of our own clients, Lisa. When Lisa originally heard about the event she took the initiative to gather a team of clients and staff in order to raise awareness for the Sharing Network, an organization which focuses on saving lives through organ and tissue donation. Now – over a decade later – it has become one of our favorite annual events at Universal.

This year there were 5K races in Long Branch and New Providence; both our Long Branch and Livingston facilities took part in their respective events. Being the first fully operational 5K since the beginning of the pandemic, there was extra excitement and energy this time around. While some of our community outings focus on therapy goals and have specific targets for the clients, this is one of the many events that is all about fun! It’s a wonderful opportunity to bring the clients out into the community to enjoy the first tease of summer weather, to meet and interact with new friends, and maybe even to dance some Zumba.

In the end, we raised a total of $1,475 for the Sharing Network! Thank you to all of our family and friends who contributed to such an important organization.

If you’d like to learn more about the NJ Sharing Network, please click here to visit their website.



Annual Kite Festival at Pier Village

One of the many perks of having a Day Program right on the beach (literally) is the endless calendar of “beachy” events that take place during New Jersey’s warmer months. Our clients kicked off the start of beach season this year by attending the annual kite festival in their own neighborhood. Mike, pictured on the far right, commented on how therapeutic the day felt. Long Branch’s O.T., Bethany (pictured below), responded to his excitement by telling him that she would find a kite for him to design, build, and fly himself because “he really did not want to leave.”

Universal Clients take on Karate

Long Branch clients practice their coordination and balance while keeping active during their karate classes. These individuals have been working very consistently to practice for their belt grading test in the next couple of weeks. We are so proud of them all for their hard work and commitment to this sport and to their physical health!

Long Branch Enjoys Equestrian Therapy

What a perfect way to enjoy the spring weather! Our clients loved their day with horses, games, & sunshine at a local farm.

NJ Devils vs. NJ Rangers Game @Prudential Center

Tuesday, March 22nd- Our clients took on The Prudential Center for a night of ice hockey, great food, & dancing (how can you not dance with the very loud and fun music that they play at live sporting events!?). We got to see the New Jersey Devils face off against the New York Rangers. As a very exciting surprise, the Devils won causing even more enthusiasm throughout the stadium. We stayed at the stadium to enjoy a night out late into the night. When we asked Edwin, one of our client attendees, what his favorite part was, he told us that he enjoyed “being out with lots of people and partying to a good ice hockey. game”

Wednesday, March 2nd: Long Branch Cheers on our local Monmouth University Hawks!

Adaptive Ski Trip with NJ & PA Adapted Sports

It’s shred season at Universal! Our community program teamed up with NJ & PA Adapted Sports to give Greg (TBI Survivor) the opportunity to show off his skills as he learned how to use a Bi-Ski for the first time. We spent the day at Camelback Mountain Resort with two AMAZING certified adapted ski instructors. We even had fresh snow for some top-notch ski runs. We ended our day with some hot chocolate and chicken fingers; not sure if it gets any better than that! Shout out to Greg who did such an awesome job maneuvering the Bi-Ski & to our instructors. We will see you on the mountain again very soon!

Thursday, December 16th: Holiday Light Show at The Turtleback Zoo

Sunday, November 28th: New York Giants vs. Philadelphia Eagles Game

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