From RAD Kids:
MAPLEWOOD, N.J. — It began as a playgroup with just a few families, organized by parents seeking a safe space for their children to play and meet other kids like them. Over the past two years, the group known as RAD Kids has become a haven for dozens of children who don’t quite fit society’s narrow gender norms.
“We’re now serving almost one hundred northern New Jersey families—and growing,” says Jan Kaminsky, the group’s cofounder. She notes that families have come from Essex, Bergen, Hudson, Morris, Sussex and Monmouth Counties. “So, despite our initial mission to serve local youth, it has become obvious to us that the need is very much present in the larger New Jersey area, as well.”
Starting this year, RAD Kids, under the auspices of the nonprofit North Jersey Pride, will host monthly meetings at St. George’s Episcopal Church in Maplewood, for gender-creative kids 12 and under. They have also started a new group, RAD Teens, for ages 13-18, which will also meet monthly at St. George’s.
RAD Kids will continue to host the quarterly social gatherings that cofounder Laura Gilkey says are the mainstay of the RAD family. “The kids have so much fun hanging out together and it’s great for parents to socialize and get to know each other in a casual setting,” she says. Last year’s events included a summer beach party, an afternoon at Jumpnasium, a holiday party, and a facilitated discussion with a mental health professional specializing in gender issues. “As we grow, we look forward to providing a predictable and more structured space to delve a little deeper, as a group, into some of our successes and challenges.”
The group is committed to keeping the events low- or no-cost to attendees, to ensure the program is accessible to all who need it. To raise money for a full year of programming, North Jersey Pride is hosting a winter ball 7 p.m. on Feb. 24 at the Grand Summit Hotel in Summit, NJ. Tickets include buffet, open bar, live DJ and entertainment, silent auction and an after-party beginning at 11 p.m. A discounted block of guest rooms is available for those who wish to stay overnight. North Jersey Pride is a 501(c)3 nonprofit and tickets are 80% tax-deductible. Ad space is available in the event program as are sponsorships at six different levels of support.
Attendees MUST be 21-and-over to enter and ID will be checked.
For more information about the next RAD Kids event, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about the winter ball: northjerseypride.org/winterball
To support the cause with advertising or sponsorship, please email email@example.com
What parents have to say about RAD Kids:
“RAD Kids is a safe place to land no matter where you are on this journey of raising a transgender or gender creative kid. It’s a community that truly meets folks where they are and says it’s okay to not fit into the world’s boxes! That’s something that’s not easy to find and is quite literally life saving to many trans and gender creative youth and their families.”
- Jamie, mother of 11 year-old child
“RAD kids has offered my family a place to gain greater support and knowledge for the road ahead. For my child, RAD Kids provides a place to see other kids like him and to have fun. Sometimes after a RAD kids hangout, on the drive home, we are able to have some of the most open and honest conversations about the challenges and pride that comes with being a transgender, non binary or gender creative kid.”
- Mary, parent of 8 year-old child
“The format of RAD Kids is so wonderful because our kids find like-minded peers they can feel at home with, AND the adults get to meet like-minded parents who willingly share advice and experience. We are not sure how our gender fluid child’s journey will go — but I love knowing my RAD Kid community will be there for us along the way!”
- RAD Kids parent
“RAD Kids has given us a community to share feelings, thoughts, praise, ideas and struggles. It makes us feel like we are not the only ones on this journey and that there are amazing kids, and adults, standing by our sides, even when at times we feel alone.”
- RAD Kids parent
“The best thing you can do for a gender creative kid is show them their not alone. RAD Kids is a safe haven, invaluable resource and an incredibly important community for my child and so many others. As a child was leaving our very first gathering, he turned to his mom and said, ‘I want to grow my hair long. I know I can now because Caleb did.’ If this doesn’t illustrate the pivotal importance of RAD Kids, I don’t know what does.”
- RAD Kids parent of 8 year-old child