The dazzling array of afterschool and weekend activities available to neurotypical children are often difficult to find for children with developmental differences. Sports, arts, creativity and socializing afford all children important opportunities to explore, imagine, discover and express themselves with peers.
Sparkidz was created to provide special needs children a supportive environment where experienced professionals and trained volunteers lead highly interactive activities including culinary arts, computer classes, sports, dance, yoga, music, theatre and group discussions with peers. The goals include building self-esteem, enhancing socialization skills, learning and most importantly, having fun.
Sparkidz staff are highly skilled, experienced and well trained professionals who complete a standard background check and are required to participate in continuous professional development. Enrichment activities are led by teaching artists who work professionally as actors, chefs, educators and visual artists.
|Roberta Donin, President & Founder
Roberta Donin, M.D. aka “Dr. Bobbie” is first the mother of two sons, Alexander and Jonathan. She is also a physician specializing in internal medicine with a private practice in Riverdale, New York. Dr. Bobbie is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine at New York Presbyterian Medical Center, an Associate Attending at St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Westchester, Medical Director of RLD Medical Associates and Medical Director of The Shield Institute.Dr. Bobbie’s youngest son was diagnosed with pervasive developmental delay in 1997. At that time recreational opportunities were quite limited for children with special needs. There was a vast array of therapeutic options for Jonathan during his younger years but the opportunities for peer companionship and enriching recreational opportunities were always challenging to find. Bobbie was inspired to create Sparkidz to fill the void of programming for special needs children in a most exciting, safe and happily challenging environment.
|Susan Egan, Vice President & General Counsel
Susan Egan, Esq. has practiced labor, employment and discrimination law in New York City for 35 years. Susan has been part of the legal teams at Winthrop, Stimson, Putnam and Roberts, a managing partner at Edwards and Angell in Manhattan. At her current practice, The Egan Law Firm, LLC, she represents clients who have experienced employment and discrimination issues. She has served on the National Faculty of the National Institute of Trial Advocacy, the New York Bar Association’s GLBT advocacy committee and lectured for the Tri-State Chapter of the American Academy of Psychiatry.Susan’s stepson has a diagnosis of a pervasive developmental delay. She has served as a devoted advocate for him in the pursuit of appropriate education and his social development. Susan brings her personal experience as well as her professional skills as Sparkidz’ legal resource to the benefit of all.
|Dr. Ilene Donin, Psychologist & Consultant
Dr. Ilene Donin, a licensed psychologist with practices in Manhattan and Westchester County began her career as a grade school teacher. Having earned a Doctorate in Counseling Psychology, Dr. Donin went on to complete a clinical internship at the Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine of New York University Langone Medical Center and served on the staff of Rusk’s Psychophysiological Pain Program.Ilene has two nephews on the autism spectrum. Over the years she has observed the challenges for her nephews and for other children wishing to find socialization and recreational activities. She has become part of the Sparkidz team with all her energy, enthusiasm and experience to help create a so needed club and program for the children.
|Zach Guzik, Senior Program Coordinator
Zach has a background in both performance and arts education. He has a BA in Drama from the University of California at Irvine. Zach has held positions with Playwrights Project of San Diego, various schools and performance art programs working with young actors. Since moving to NYC in 2012, he has had the opportunity to work with children with special needs as a tutor and mentor. This work has given him a very unique appreciation for the talents and abilities of these children. Zach is a valued part of the Sparkidz team and is dedicated to helping these children reach up and grow to their fullest potential.
|Russell Daniels, Program Coordinator
Russell is a NYC actor with a background in performance and education. He has worked throughout the United States with many different theater companies. His BA in Music Education is from The Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam and has an MFA in Acting from The University of Houston. He has taught classes and workshops throughout the country to children of different ages and ability levels. He has recently worked with and taught children with special needs and is a wonderful addition to the Sparkidz team.
|Barbara Wolf, Board Member
Barbara Wolf is a documentary filmmaker in NYC. She is also a certified yoga teacher and mindfulness instructor. She is the mother of Olivia Folger, a Sophomore at the University of Richmond and Ella Folger, a sophomore at the Cooke Academy and an active participant at Sparkidz. For the past several years Barbara has focused her camera on the Cooke School serving as a creative director and producing educational and fundraising videos which she hopes motivate community support of educational, arts and movement programs for people with developmental disabilities. She is grateful for programs like Sparkidz.
|Frank Fox, Consultant
Frank’s career is devoted to enhancing educational opportunities for children with special needs. He is a certified teacher in secondary and elementary education who is also an active member in the National Right to Read Foundation. He received his BSED from Shippensburg University and will be pursuing his MA in Special Education. Frank’s work with Sparkidz is motivated by his love of teaching as well as his genuine belief that every child has the right and ability to learn and grow. He is one of the driving forces behind the development and expansion of Sparkidz as he served as Executive Director for three years.
Thank you for your interest in joining the Sparkidz team. Please click on the link above to complete an application for employment or to volunteer. When you have completed the document please return this as an attachment in an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have any questions or concerns please contact our main office at (917) 930-6446.
Applications are reviewed and accepted on a continuing basis. We encourage all candidates to apply. Sparkidz will not discriminate in hiring based on age, color, sex, disability, national origin, race, religion or sexual orientation. If you have questions please call (917) 930-6446 or email email@example.com.
You don’t have to give money to donate to Sparkidz. Why not volunteer?
Volunteering is a great way to be a part of Sparkidz amazing work. We rely on the valuable support of our volunteers. Please complete the application above or contact us at (917) 930-6446.