Public Info

Summit Youth Recognized for Raising Awareness of Autism

Union County Freeholder Chairman Alexander Mirabella presented Zachary Brooks and his family
with complimentary tickets to the new Union County Sensory Friendly Theater series, in appreciation
for Zachary’s efforts to raise awareness about autism.
(l-r: County Manager Alfred Faella;  Donna Puzella, owner of Sweet Nothings in Summit;
Elisa Brooks; Zachary Brooks; Freeholder Chairman Alexander Mirabella; and
Samson Steinman, Executive Director of the Union County Performing Arts Center).



Union County, NJ – Union County Freeholder Chairman Alexander Mirabella paid a visit to nine-year-old Zachary Brooks of Summit this week to thank him for his efforts to raise awareness about autism. In appreciation for his community service, Chairman Mirabella presented Zachary and his family with tickets to the first performance in the new Union County Sensory Friendly Theater series.

“Zachary has performed an outstanding community service that brings out the best in all of us,” said Chairman Mirabella. “His efforts are truly inspiring.”

The new Sensory Friendly Theater series includes music, dance and theater performances especially designed for children with autism and related disorders to enjoy with their families. It was initiated this year as part of Chairman Mirabella’s 2012 initiatives, with the goal of raising public awareness about autism and helping children with autism participate in community life.

“Cultural enrichment is so important for a young person’s development, and the Sensory Friendly series helps to ensure that the performing arts are accessible in a friendly, judgment-free atmosphere,” said Mirabella.

Zachary, whose twin brother has autism, stepped up this year to help his aunt Donna Puzella in her longtime campaign for autism awareness through her Summit business Sweet Nothings. Zachary has been working to raise funds and to help promote a better understanding of autism.

The Sensory Friendly Theater series is hosted by the historic Union County Performing Arts Center, conveniently located at 1601 Irving Street in the downtown Rahway Arts District.

All performances are designed to keep sound and light at a moderate level. Children may talk or leave their seats during the performances, and if needed they can visit quiet areas set aside in the lobby, where trained staff is available to provide assistance.

The series includes Tom Chapin and Friends on June 10, Little Red Riding Hood and Other Stories presented by Pushcart Players on October 7, and Pinocchio presented by the New Jersey Ballet on November 4.

Tickets are affordably priced at $8.00 per person. For more information call the Union County Performing Arts Center at 732-499-8226 or visit

For information on all Union County programs, events and services visit



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