Jewish Disability Awareness & Inclusion Month

Posted by: Betsy Cowan on Thursday, February 1, 2018 at 12:00:00 am
10th anniversary of Jewish Disabilities Awareness and Inclusion Month (JDAIM), a global campaign to advance disability inclusion in Jewish communities.

Over the past 18 months, the Barshop JCC has undertaken an effort to assess our readiness to respond to the needs of those differently abled. With support from the JCC Board of Directors and funds received through grants from a consortium that includes the Gladys & Ralph Lazarus Family Foundation and the Jewish Federation, we have undertaken a two year self-assessment to help us identify emerging needs, develop a series of referral and collaborative resources, and create new networks and paths to strengthen our support for these individuals.

This past November, in an effort to raise awareness and identify new resources, the JCC sponsored a film presentation of Life, Animated from the ReelAbilities Film Festival, the largest film festival in the country dedicated to promoting awareness and appreciation of the lives, stories and artistic expressions of people with different abilities. We also hosted a panel discussion with members from the San Antonio community involved with accessibility including; Morgan’s Wonderland’s entertainment director, HEB’s Diversity and Inclusion Manager, and specialists from the JCC, NISD, and Temple Beth-El. In December, our JCC was represented at a special Inclusion Think Tank hosted by the JCC’s of North America, to shape a continental initiative to support inclusion in the JCC movement. These events and conversations to address common needs and concerns serve to support both our JCC Members and our community at large and have further informed us as we strive to meet those needs.

Our summer Inclusion Camp, now in its fourteenth year, continues to support families with children that have different needs and who are fully included in day-to-day Summer J-Camp activities. With support facilitators in ratios of 1:1 or 1:2, we provide opportunities for campers with different abilities through arts and crafts, sports, nature, dance, and water acclimation activities, all integrated in the typical camp day. As a direct result of our summer inclusion services, our ECD and After School staff and program directors are more aware and better prepared to meet the needs of young families. In the coming months, we will also be conducting a survey to further assist us in collecting information to help develop activities designed to engage and serve young adults with different abilities.

Refer to our Inclusive Programming page on our website and look for the new Inclusion key on the web and in our printed guides; when a program or event is accessible, we will include this graphic to highlight programs or services of interest to differently abled individuals and their significant others. An example may be a film screening that includes the option to check out a loop, the inclusion program with Summer J-Camp, or an event that is wheelchair accessible, such as the Film Festival or an author lecture. To alert us to your special need, contact Betsy Cowan, Special Needs and Inclusion Project Manager, via email or call 210-302-6824. We mean it when we say you belong here®!


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