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Innovator of the Year – Finalists


The capabilities of Easterseals NJ Packaging and Fulfillment Services (NJPFS) workers in New Brunswick are vastly different, depending on individual physical and mental disabilities. To ensure every participant enjoys the confidence, passion, commitment and pride in assembling and packaging quality products, NJPFS developed flexible, yet inexpensive, training and production methods that can be used for individuals with different aptitudes, thereby enabling every NJPFS program participant to contribute to the manufacturing process. The processes also can be adapted easily for different operations, based on the type of product on the lines. These innovative procedures enable members of the workforce to perform intricate tasks that require high levels of concentration, enable quick product and line changeovers, and achieve the highest quality and customer satisfaction levels – and, importantly, enhance participants’ lives through the satisfaction gained by a job well done.

Employment Horizons

Since 1957, Employment Horizons, Inc. (EH), Cedar Knolls, has married the manufacturing and disability communities, enabling individuals with disabilities to meet local and global business needs. While most manufacturing and fulfillment centers work for specific customers on regular projects, EH juggles short-term jobs with long-term customers. Consequently, training is required to learn each new job and related skills. To do that, each EH contract is divided into components. Then, if one employee can complete certain steps but not all of them, another employee with different skills can complete those tasks. Also, adaptive aids are used by individuals with physical limitations enabling, for example, an individual with the use of only one hand to complete a task that typically would require the use of two. Such innovative strategies enable EH to produce quality work while providing rewarding employment.

Productive Play

By the age of five, siblings Joey and Heidi Hudicka showed an entrepreneurial spirit – Joey’s board games inspired him to make his own, and Heidi designed doll clothes. By age nine, Joey had created mobile apps to promote his games and enjoyed sales and downloads in more than 60 countries. Today, at 15 and 10, respectively, the two have even more lofty goals: introducing young people to entrepreneurship, financial literacy and responsibility through their LAUNCH! board game. Amazed that their peers had no understanding of the business world, LAUNCH!, created with support from their parents, presents players with investment opportunities and teaches them strategies, negotiation skills, decision-making, cash management and business terms. By using social media, LAUNCH! is catching on – not just with children, but with their parents, who find it both an effective teaching tool and entertainment for the whole family.


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