Autistic Son Of Former Lion QB Inspires New “RJ’s Place” At Children’s Center In Midtown

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For those of you who have no idea what’s going on over at the Children’s Center of Wayne County, you’re not alone. I was guilty of not knowing until I had the honor of getting an inside look at one of the many buildings and facilities that the center has to offer in Midtown.

I met a little boy who, when initially starting the program, could only speak but two words. After about three weeks with trained volunteers and professionals, his vocabulary had expanded and he was already busting out of his shell with his addictive and bubbly personality.

He said “hi” to me about seven times, while also repetitively reminding his volunteer that he loved Caillou and to be tickled. Being the most fashionable toddler it’s ever been my pleasure to meet, he was sporting a beret and a button-down vest at age two.

I fell in love with this little guy, with his adorably dimpled smile that was more than contagious.

But that was just it—The smiles throughout the entire building were contagious. You could feel the friendly atmosphere as soon as you entered the building, despite the hustle and bustle of the unveiling of RJ’s Place that drew so much media attention including the OWN Network.

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The media swarmed the event that took place at 101 E. Alexandrine on August 15. The Oprah Winfrey Network, also in attendance, the event was only open to Children’s Center personal and select media coverage.

RJ’s Place is the newest addition to the center, sponsored and funded by HollyRod, a foundation started by actress Holly Robinson Peete and former Lion Rodney Peete in light of their autistic son, RJ.

Donated were 30 new tablets with Puzzle Piece Software subscriptions for access to Autism Spectrum Disorder-specific tools and games, along with 50 copies of “My Brother Charlie.” The book is one of colorful pictures geared towards helping children identify with parents, siblings and friends of someone who is autistic.

The new room in the 101 E. Alexandrine building, is named after RJ Peete, their son, and provides a comfortable space for the children to read and use their awesome new tablets.

Along with the room’s unveiling, four current and former Lions players made an appearance. RJ, ecstatic to meet Matthew Stafford and Glover Quin, had no clue that the other Lions, such as Scott Conover formerly played with his dad in the 90s.

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Following the unveiling, the OWN Network recorded the actress reading the new book to the children in attendance for the new series, For Peete’s Sake. The show will follow the struggles of having a child diagnosed with ASD and to shed light on the disorder as well as educate viewers. The series will premiere in the Spring of 2016.

So for those of you who didn’t know what was up over at the Children’s Center, now you do. And if you want to get involved, it’s easy. There are opportunities on their website to help start changing lives.

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