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Poughkeepsie… Dutchess County Executive Marcus J. Molinaro invites children and young adults with special needs, their families and support agencies to the County’s sixth annual Special Needs Picnic on Tuesday, July 10th from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library & Museum’s Great Lawn, 4079 Albany Post Road in Hyde Park. The picnic is free for all, but reservations are required and can be made online.
County Executive Molinaro said, “Our annual special needs picnics give hundreds of individuals of every ability and their families a care-free day of fun, great food and live music, as well as the chance to make new friends and connect with agencies and organizations that can greatly impact their lives. Dutchess County Government is proud to ‘ThinkDIFFERENTLY’ about our friends and neighbors of all abilities, and our annual picnic is one of many events we host each year, demonstrating our commitment to serving every resident of every ability.”
The picnic is the result of collaboration between multiple Dutchess County Government departments, including Community & Family Services, Public Works, Behavioral & Community Health, the Office for the Aging, and the Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office. Other community organizations, including Cornell Cooperative Extension and Lucky Orphans Horse Rescue, have also collaborated with the County to make this year’s picnic a success.
Among the additions to this year’s picnic is a farm theme, including live barnyard animals, highlighting the importance of agriculture to Dutchess County’s local communities.
Dutchess County Legislature Chair Gregg Pulver said, “Dutchess County, as a whole, benefits immensely from local farms, and we look forward to showing families the marvels of agriculture at our annual picnic.”
This year’s picnic also offers a new location: the Great Lawn of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library & Museum.
County Executive Molinaro said, “President Roosevelt was the embodiment of our ‘ThinkDIFFERENTLY’ initiative: Not letting a physical disability limit his possibilities, he instead looked inward to his innate potential and became one of our nation’s greatest leaders. We are proud to partner with the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library & Museum and honor his legacy by inspiring Dutchess County resident of all abilities.”
The lunch menu will include a gluten-free option of grilled chicken strips, in addition to hamburgers, macaroni and cheese, watermelon, and microgreens, among other options.
The annual Special Needs Picnic is made possible through donations from the community; this year’s sponsors include Barton and Loguidice, Greystone Programs, HRHCare Community Health, Helping Other People Everywhere (HOPE), MidHudson Regional Hospital, Rhinebeck Animal Hospital, Rose & Kiernan, Simply Gourmet, and Williams Lumber & Home Center. Local businesses interested in being a “ThinkDIFFERENTLY” sponsor can call (845) 486-3568 for more information on sponsoring this popular event, as well as other “ThinkDIFFERENTLY” events throughout the year.
County Executive Molinaro conceived the “ThinkDIFFERENTLY” initiative in 2015 as a way of fostering a more welcoming and inclusive community for individuals all abilities. Dutchess County has since taken numerous steps to “ThinkDIFFERENTLY,” including holding events such as the annual picnic for children with special needs and their families. Since 2016, 100 communities throughout New York State have adopted “ThinkDIFFERENTLY” resolutions, pledging to offer a supportive environment to residents of all abilities.
More information about the initiative is available at thinkdifferently.net. The site offers simple navigation through the comprehensive array of local services available to residents with special needs and their families. It also serves as a resources to connect families to resources, information and community events to enhance the lives of individuals with special needs.