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Randolph Township Schools Partners with Local Law Enforcement to Support Autism Awareness Month

Randolph Township Schools Director of Security Harry Ruiz was attending a meeting with the Morris County Sheriff’s office who had created a patch celebrating Autism Awareness month. Mr. Ruiz was inspired by the difference local law enforcement were making in the community. He thought about how he could also make a difference, and decided to meet with his security team to discuss creating Autism Awareness patches to be worn by the security team. Randolph High School custodian Joel Figueroa saw Mr. Ruiz working on creating the renderings for the patches early on. As an artist, he decided to help him make the renderings for the patches with the school crest so they could be worn on district security uniforms. Yesterday, members of local law enforcement and the district met to unveil the patches which will be worn all month to celebrate Autism Awareness.
“I wanted to redesign the crest to honor Autism Awareness for the month of April. With the help of Joel Figueroa, we created these patches to help demonstrate the inclusivity of our community,” Mr. Ruiz said. “The leadership of Ms. Fano and the district to inspire us to be innovative and come to work ready to make a difference really helped make the project a reality. My career in law enforcement in combination with the relationships in our school community helped us to make something that can continue to spread positivity in Randolph. My team and I are motivated by our students as well who always challenge us to make a difference. I see our students doing amazing work all the time, and they give us inspiration to think about ways to give back. Joel Figueroa is an example of that collaborative energy in Randolph. He was just walking down the hall one night and saw what I was working on and decided to help. It made a difference in his life, and that’s the power of this place. Randolph continually challenges us to be better by working with one another and I am so grateful for this infectious nature not only in our schools but also in our community. Our local law enforcement always step up to the plate wanting to do more, and I think if there’s any takeaway we can learn from life it is that doing good for other people is always the right thing to do. We should always be looking for ways to make a positive impact in the world.”
According to the Autism Society, the puzzle ribbon was adopted in 1999 as the universal sign of Autism Awareness. The puzzle pattern reflects the complexity of the Autism spectrum. The different colors and shapes represent the diversity of the people and families living with the condition. The brightness of the ribbon signals hope — hope that through increased awareness of Autism, and through early intervention and access to appropriate services/supports, people with Autism will lead full lives and be able to interact with the world on their own terms.
Our district Transition team was thrilled to help support this celebration and really appreciated all of the work that went into making these patches possible. “What a beautiful day we had to celebrate our inclusive community,” Transition Coordinator Brianne McBreen said. “Helen Keller once said that optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence. In Randolph, we have created a community of support that provides opportunity and optimism for all of our learners. We are surrounded by people invested in the success of our students and appreciate the inclusivity and acceptance for all. Together, we focus on ability. People with and without disabilities are contributing members of society and we value all equally.”
In addition to yesterday’s celebration, the Morris County Sheriff’s Office provided information on the “Project Lifesaver” program which supports individuals with Autism, Dementia, Alzheimers, Down Syndrome, Traumatic Brain Injuries, and other disabilities. Through the use of state of the art technology, search and rescue personnel are able to track individuals reported missing. The program uses a one-ounce battery operated transmitter wrist band that emits a tracking signal each second 24-hours a day. Each wrist band is programmed with a unique frequency and when someone is reported missing, police personnel are dispatched and a tracking unit receiver is activated. The program is currently free of charge to Morris County residents thanks to private donations and funding through the Older Americans Act. Applications are available at:
We would like to thank our distinguished guests for celebrating this special occasion yesterday including members of our Board of Education, district leadership team, security team, and Transition program as well as the Randolph Township Police Department and
Morris County Sheriff's Office. We would also like to thank Harry Ruiz, Joel Figueroa, and our security team for helping to make this initiative possible.