Unique Livingston Special Needs Learning Facility Gets More Kudos

Unique Livingston Special Needs Learning Facility Gets More Kudos

By:  Eric Kiefer


A unique special needs learning facility in Livingston continues to earn well-wishes and admiration from local residents and their elected officials.

"Lifetown" on Microlab Road has a volunteer-powered Main Street where people with special needs can master independent living skills in a real-life setting… but without the pressure. It includes a replica bank, supermarket and theater, among other attractions.

A grand opening took place on Sept. 9.

The $18 million facility – a years-long project spearheaded by nonprofit Friendship Circle – has built up an eager buzz, earning accolades from elected officials and celebrities such as U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, U.S. Rep. Mikie Sherrill and Ivanka Trump.

See related article: Replica 'Main Street' In Livingston Empowers Special Needs Youth

Last week, Lifetown got a visit from Senate President Steve Sweeney and Senator Richard Codey, the former governor of New Jersey. Both had high praise for the facility, which they said has the capacity to serve 30,000 people every year, making it the largest such learning center in the nation.

There are partnerships in place to serve students from public and private schools as well as children from the Children's Specialized Hospital, Rutgers and RWJ Barnabas health networks, officials said.

"The importance of teaching basic skills for independent living for people with special needs cannot be overstated," said Codey, who represents towns in Essex and Morris counties. "I'm grateful Friendship Circle chose Livingston to build their facility. LifeTown is going to be an incredible resource to the district and the children who live in the surrounding area."

Sweeney said Lifetown will help "countless" kids in New Jersey to face their fears.

"There was no stone left unturned, no corners cut and nothing that they didn't think of when building this facility," Sweeney said. "I look forward to seeing the success of the programming here and I hope we see more facilities like this throughout New Jersey in the future."