Hundreds of students, teachers and administrators united at the field to raise awareness for autism and to also break a Guiness world record on Thursday.
Over 275 students at Hamilton simultaneously blew bubbles at 1:15 for the 9th annual Blow Bubbles 4 Autism, a global initiative designed to raise awareness of the developmental disability. Non-profit group Faces 4 Autism, which first championed the idea, led the world-wide record-breaking attempt, its third consecutive try.
Autism, which affects one in 110 children nationally and is more prevalent among boys, is one of the more underfunded childhood disorders. Rates of autism are even higher in New Jersey.
Volt Wellness suggested Hamilton take part in the Thursday afternoon event, and supplied the bubbles.
In Glen Rock, the global event meshed well with Hamilton's Character Education Program, said Dana Pavese, guidance counselor at the school. April is, after all, Autism Awareness month at the elementary school on Harristown Road.
"We want to increase awareness in our children but also to teach them in the process that it's important to respect people's differences," Pavese said, adding the school hopes to impress upon the kids an understanding of the disability, and also that students "treat everyone with kindness and care, and work together as a team toward goals."
Character is key at Hamilton. Academics are crucial toward development, but so is a holistic approach to developing the person, Pavese said.
The year-long Character Education Program matches most months to a specific character trait, which is reinfored with literature, classroom activities, assemblies and a school-wide activity, she said.
This year's focus is on respect, gratitude, giving, self-esteem and kindness.
Kindness is the year's final character lesson and the component perfectly blended with the Bubbles 4 Autism event, Pavese noted. Each student is expected to do two individual acts of kindness, one at home, one in school. After information and activities were provided, the Bubbles 4 Autism event fulfilled the school's portion of the Character Education Program.
"Parents are very much involved with this," Pavese remarked, adding the school hopes to do a fundraiser to raise money for autism programs and research later in the year. "We confer with them and ask them to reinforce it at home. It speaks to the whole child –their emotional, social, and academic development. As a school we feel very much responsible for it and work together" with the parents.
So, you must be asking, did they help break the record? According to an article in the Hunterdon Democrat, it looks like a new record has been set.
– Text by James Kleimann