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New Swing Set Aims To Bring Joy To Hawthorne Boy, Classmates With Severe Autism

Louis Morello, who owns Champion Waste Removal in Montclair, donated the labor and equipment to remove the unsafe swings last Friday.
Louis Morello, who owns Champion Waste Removal in Montclair, donated the labor and equipment to remove the unsafe swings last Friday. Photo Credit: COURTESY: Julie Skolnik-Schiavo

To some, it’s simply a new swing set. But to a 14-year-old Hawthorne boy with severe autism, it means so much more.

Spencer Schiavo "doesn't care about toys or material things that most kids enjoy," his stepmother, Julie Skolnik-Schiavo, said. "But he loves movement and does love to go on swings."

Unfortunately, the year-round school he attends has been without swings for months, due to age and damage, she said.

So she and her husband, Al Schiavo, took to Facebook seeking donations for the Allegro School for Autism in Cedar Knolls.

“We asked for $1,000,” Skolnik-Schiavo said. “In only a few days, we received nearly $3,000.”

Louis Morello, who owns Champion Waste Removal in Montclair, donated the labor and equipment to remove the unsafe swings last Friday.

The school ordered the new swings this week and hopes to have them delivered within a month.

There's no firm date for erecting them -- although it would be nice to have them in time for Spencer's 15th birthday on April 22.

All of the money raised by the Schiavos will go toward the set ( see link below ). Meanwhile, a local Girl Scout troop is planning a car wash in May to raise money for additional upgrades to the Allegro School playground.

“Unlike a typical school that may have a parent organization that does fundraising we do not,’ Skolnik-Schiavo said. “We are all parents of autistic children at the most severe end of the spectrum, and the fact is that many of the parents need help themselves.

“We can't do regular activities in the community with our children like go to a movie or take them to a restaurant for dinner,” she said.

“They have little to no verbal communication. They have severe behavioral difficulties. Most need help just doing the daily functions of life, like getting dressed and showering, even though they are teenagers,” Skolnik-Schiavo said.

“It is very hard for our children and very hard for all the families because it's so stressful, exhausting and very isolating.”

The new swing set “will make a big difference,” she said.

DONATE TO THE PLAYGROUND: https://www.facebook.com/donate/1360633734079422/?fundraiser_source=external_url

Spencer Schiavo

Spencer Schiavo (COURTESY: Julie Skolnik-Schiavo)

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