Shusterman co-hosts successful all-abilities morning at Elmwood Park Zoo

PAOLI, Sept. 9 – State Rep. Melissa Shusterman, D-Chester/Montgomery, co-hosted Early Access morning at Elmwood Park Zoo on Saturday, Sept. 7.

Early Access Morning was an opportunity for individuals with intellectual disabilities and their caretakers to enjoy a low-traffic experience at the zoo with minimal environmental stressors and sensory triggers. It is part of a larger all-abilities event series with Elmwood, the first zoo in the world to earn certification as a Certified Autism Center. The designation, given by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards, is awarded to organizations that have completed a training and review process with the goal to better serve individuals with autism and other sensory needs. 

“Early Access Morning is a forward-thinking, inclusive concept that sets the standard for all-abilities events,” Shusterman said. “The highly accredited facility conditions, skilled staff and genuine passion for community engagement exhibited here gives me added motivation to keep fighting for children of all ability levels.”

Shusterman is a co-chair on the Autism and Intellectual Disabilities Caucus and has been active in the disabilities rights and awareness movements both locally and in Harrisburg. Shusterman has been an avid spokesperson on topics such as assistive technology, the direct support professional crisis and working toward eliminating waitlists for disabilities vouchers.

“My focus when we return to session will be to continue this initiative, and to encourage legislators to hold all-abilities-friendly events in their respective districts,” Shusterman said. “Every child deserves the opportunity to explore and enjoy the best experiences in their region.”

Shusterman will return to session in Harrisburg on Sept. 17.

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