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American special children's pilgrimage group.

The American Special Children's Pilgrimage pilgrimage

Journey to a shrine or other sacred place undertaken to gain divine aid, as an act of thanksgiving or penance, or to demonstrate devotion. Medieval Christian pilgrims stayed at hospices set up specifically for pilgrims, and on their return trip they wore on their
 Group (ASCPG) was founded in 1995, under the philosophical umbrella of the England-based Pilgrimage Trust (HCPT HCPT Handicapped Children's Pilgrimage Trust (UK charity)
HCPT High Consequence Pathogen or Toxin
), the organization that began this special kind of group pilgrimage in the 1950s. Each year, the Pilgrimage Trust makes the journey during Easter Week In the Anglican and other Latin-rite churches, Easter Week is the week beginning with the Christian feast of Easter and ending a week later on Easter Saturday. In Eastern Orthodoxy, this week is known as Bright Week. , and the children and young adults with disabilities stay in the same hotel as their caretakers, instead of in a hospital or hospice hospice, program of humane and supportive care for the terminally ill and their families; the term also applies to a professional facility that provides care to dying patients who can no longer be cared for at home. , as had been the custom with previous pilgrimage groups. (To learn more about HCPT, visit Since its inception, the nonprofit A corporation or an association that conducts business for the benefit of the general public without shareholders and without a profit motive.

Nonprofits are also called not-for-profit corporations. Nonprofit corporations are created according to state law.
 ASCPG, based in Bergenfield, New Jersey Bergenfield is a borough in Bergen County, New Jersey, United States. As of the United States 2000 Census, the borough population was 26,247.

Bergenfield was formed on the basis of a referendum held on June 25, 1894, from portions of Englewood Township and Palisades
, has been operated entirely by volunteers, working in close conjunction with HCPT and its members yet functioning as a separate entity.

ASCPG co-founder and chairman, Gerry Flood, became involved with the Pilgrimage Trust in his native Ireland in 1979, helping to raise funds for the pilgrimages. He had never made the journey himself. Tough economic times in Ireland precipitated his move to the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area. . "The idea never left me," he says, of the pilgrimage groups. With the help of HCPT headquarters in England, as well as his friend Joe Earley, who has worked with the Irish Pilgrimage Trust (IHCPT), Flood and his wife Rosemarie founded ASCPG in November 1995.

Flood's efforts to obtain insurance to make a pilgrimage to Lourdes in 1996 and 1997 were unsuccessful, and he was unable to take children, although he made the journey himself to gain the experience. After two unsuccessful years of efforts to obtain insurance, he was "ready to throw in the towel," he says. He had worked with the pilgrimage group from Dublin that second year, and on the final evening of the trip in Lourdes, he recalls, he went to the Grotto and prayed.

On returning home, he expressed his discouragement to Dr. Bill Miller, a local physician with whom he had spoken about the idea for the American pilgrimage group. Not long after that conversation, Miller listened to a homily homily (hŏm`əlē), type of oral religious instruction delivered to a church congregation. In the patristic period through the Middle Ages the focus of the homily was on the explanation and application of texts read or sung during the  given by Father Peter Palmisano, at his church, St. Joseph Parish, in Oradell, New Jersey Oradell is a borough in Bergen County, New Jersey, United States. As of the United States 2000 Census, the borough population was 8,047. The borough's territory includes a dam on the Hackensack River that forms the Oradell Reservoir. . Father Peter spoke of how close he felt to Our Lady of Lourdes The apparitions of Our Lady of Lourdes began when Bernadette Soubirous, a 14-year old peasant girl from Lourdes, when questioned by her mother, admitted that she had seen a "lady" in the cave of Massabielle, about a mile from the town, on 11 February, 1858, while she was gathering . Miller then connected Father Peter and Flood.

"She (Mary) never lets you down," Flood says. "He (Father Peter) wanted to get kids to Lourdes, but he didn't know how," says Flood. "I knew how, but we didn't have kids." Miller also helped to solicit initial funding and was able to involve nurses and other medical personnel.

ASCPG finally was able to obtain insurance, clearing the way for the first pilgrimage with children to occur in 1998. "I'll never have Easter dinner at home again," Flood recalls calling his wife and telling her, so profound was his experience in Lourdes. Flood has been to Lourdes each Easter since. His wife makes the trip every other year.

ASCPG's volunteer organizers begin planning each year's pilgrimage two weeks after returning from the current year's pilgrimage and taking some time to rest. Many of the volunteers have returned year after year to help with the pilgrimage, finding it an indispensable part of their lives, and at the same time ensuring for ASCPG an experienced volunteer staff that also seeks newcomers.

For parents to feel confident that it is safe to send their children on a pilgrimage, particularly so far away from home and outside of the country, ASCPG sets rules and trains its volunteer helpers. The reputation of the organization and its ability to continue this service are dependent upon taking this care. Pilgrimage details follow:

ASCPG Philosophy

ASCPG encourages children and volunteers of all faiths and backgrounds to attend a pilgrimage to Lourdes. The group takes children ages nine and older as well as young adults with disabilities. ASCPG uses a group system, with eight to ten children per group, a group leader, and two helpers to accompany each child.

Because the trip is intended to provide a unique experience and independence for the children and young adults, and a respite RESPITE, contracts, civil law. An act by which a debtor who is unable to satisfy his debts at the moment, transacts (i. e. compromises) with his creditors, and obtains from them time or delay for the payment of the sums which he owes to them. Louis. Code, 3051.  for their parents, particularly the mother, who frequently does not have a break from providing care, "parents do not journey with the child, except under extreme circumstances CIRCUMSTANCES, evidence. The particulars which accompany a fact.
     2. The facts proved are either possible or impossible, ordinary and probable, or extraordinary and improbable, recent or ancient; they may have happened near us, or afar off; they are public or
," Flood says.

Medical Care

Families who are interested in having their child make the pilgrimage to Lourdes complete an application, which is reviewed by ASCPG medical staff to determine whether the child or young adult can travel safely, without health risk.

Two physicians and several nurses accompany the pilgrimage group each year. Families and caretakers, referred to as "helpers," complete a confidential information Noun 1. confidential information - an indication of potential opportunity; "he got a tip on the stock market"; "a good lead for a job"
steer, tip, wind, hint, lead
 form, recording medications necessary for the trip. The second floor of the hotel in Lourdes is set up as a pharmacy to meet any unexpected medication needs of the pilgrims Pilgrims, in American history, the group of separatists and other individuals who were the founders of Plymouth Colony. The name Pilgrim Fathers is given to those members who made the first crossing on the Mayflower.  and helpers. Hospitals in Lourdes are available for any emergency needs.

During the trip, the nurse completes a daily report of each pilgrim's status, including input from the child's helpers. When a pilgrim or helper is sick, the physicians or nurse will care for them, staying up through the night if necessary.

Open Door Policy

ASCPG stresses its open door policy and safety measures safety measures, actions (e.g., use of glasses, face masks) taken to protect patients and office personnel from such known hazards as particles and aerosols from high-speed rotary instruments, mercury vapor, radiation exposure, anesthetic and
. It is the group's policy to "never, never" have an adult alone with a child, says Flood. This rule is emphasized during training and in the literature given to helpers prior to the trip.

During the stay in Lourdes, all of the children are on one floor of the hotel. Two helpers at a time take turns in shifts from 11:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m., patrolling the floor while the pilgrims sleep, to ensure that all is safe. Each helper takes one four-hour shift during the week. If a pilgrim needs assistance with bathing or toileting, two helpers must be present at all times.

Travel & Accommodation

One volunteer has made all of the travel arrangements for ASCPG since the pilgrimages began, booking flights, buses, and hotel accommodations for all of the pilgrims and volunteer staff.

In recent years, ASCPG has traveled via Air France Air France
 in full Compagnie Internationale Air France

French passenger and cargo airline with more than 200 destinations in some 80 countries. It introduced supersonic Concorde service in 1976, but financial loss led the company to cease its Concorde
, which has been accommodating of its needs, according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.

2. In keeping with: according to instructions.

 Flood. ASCPG enjoys the benefit of a police escort for transitions at John F. Kennedy International Airport
''For the regional airport in Wisconsin, see John F. Kennedy Memorial Airport.

John F. Kennedy International Airport (IATA: JFK, ICAO: KJFK, FAA LID: JFK
, Newark International Airport, Paris Charles De Gaulle International Airport Charles de Gaulle International Airport (IATA: CDG, ICAO: LFPG) (French: AĆ©roport Roissy-Charles de Gaulle), also known as Roissy Airport (or just Roissy , and the Toulouse International Airport, outside of Lourdes.

At Hotel La Solitude, where ASCPG stays while in Lourdes, the group works with manager Francois for any specific needs that arise. The hotel has always been very accommodating, Flood indicates.


Volunteers interested in working as a helper for a pilgrim complete an application that is reviewed by ASCPG staff to determine whether they will be selected.

Each helper will be assigned either as the primary or secondary helper for a pilgrim. (Primary helpers will have had previous experience on the pilgrimage, while secondary helpers may be new to the pilgrimage.) Prior to the trip, both helpers make at least three visits to the pilgrim, using one of the visits to take the child or young adult outside of the home. Helpers get to know the child's habits, likes, and dislikes, as well as special information such as how the family might prefer to transfer the child from a wheelchair. All helpers participate in a mandatory training session.

Helpers are not intended to act as parents, but are more like a big brother or big sister, says Emily Sullivan Emily Sullivan-Prowse is a character on the US post-apocalyptic drama Jericho. She is played by Ashley Scott.

In the pilot episode, it is revealed that Emily is an old friend of the pivotal character Jake Green (Skeet Ulrich) and that a falling out has happened
, one of the volunteer organizers

If a child is sick during the stay in Lourdes, both helpers must stay back from group activities to oversee the child.


Children and young adult pilgrims with disabilities make the trip to Lourdes at no cost. Each of the helpers is asked to pay $1,000 for the trip or to recruit a sponsor for themselves. The actual cost for the pilgrimage is about $1,800 per person, Flood says, and covers travel, flight insurance, and hotel and meal costs for the week. Funding for each child or young adult and the remaining $800 needed for each helper is covered by fundraisers such as golf outings and dinner dances throughout the year, as well as donations that volunteers help to raise. ASCPG also relies on contribution of services or facilities, friends, businesses, and organizations.

Flood believes that the organization will one day reach all 50 states. He is actively pursuing expansion to other regions beyond its current locations of northern New Jersey, New York City New York City: see New York, city.
New York City

City (pop., 2000: 8,008,278), southeastern New York, at the mouth of the Hudson River. The largest city in the U.S.
, and the Philadelphia/southern New Jersey area.

For more information about the American Special Children's Pilgrimage Group, visit ASCPG chairman Gerry Flood can be contacted at: (201) 873-8054;; or ASCPG, P.O. Box 633, Bergenfield, New Jersey 07621.
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Article Details
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Author:Caroff, Maria
Publication:The Exceptional Parent
Article Type:Organization overview
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 2008
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