Nadine Wright-Arbubakkr is the founder of Nassan’s Place, a nonprofit in East Orange she started seven years ago for parents struggling to find affordable programs and services for their children. The organization is named after Arbubakkr’s 15-year-old son, who was diagnosed with autism at two years old. Since that diagnosis, Arbubakkr has been on a mission to help parents of children on the spectrum, who are all too often disadvantaged by the system.
“A zip code should not be the reason our babies go without,” Arbubakkr said, according to a report this month by NJ.com. After independently searching for ways to help families and children with autism, Arbubakkr decided to start her own nonprofit organization in 2012.
Her journey has given her first-hand insight into the struggles faced by many families in urban communities to provide for their children with autism. With help from donors and fundraisers over the past seven years, Nassan’s Place has helped New Jersey children with autism by providing four-hour camps on Saturdays, an afterschool program, and a basketball camp.
The organization also provides activities for children on the spectrum, such as outings to movies and basketball games. Siblings are not excluded from these events, since autism is something that affects the entire family.
Many parents have been highly appreciative of Arbubakkr’s efforts, as NJ.com noted. Kimberly Muse, mother of a 17-year-old and eleven-year-old both diagnosed with autism, said she was initially reluctant to let anyone around her children due to concerns about a lack of compassion and understanding. Arbubakkr helped break down those barriers. Hope Little, whose 10-year-old son Demarcus has autism, also said Nassan’s Place has been a warm and welcoming environment.
Nassan’s Place did not have a permanent facility until recently, when Arbubakkr was gifted a building by the city of Newark last year. The facility still requires significant renovations and funding before being presentable.
“Nassan’s Place can’t stop the diagnosis, but we can help the families affected by it,” Arbubakkr said.