inclusion is an attitude
Special Needs Task Force
Thanks to board member Josh Bornstein, we launched our Special Needs Task Force. First steps included
evaluating our JCC to see what we were doing well for people with special needs and disabilities and where we
could improve. We recognized the need for employee training including language sensitivity training and
identified new ways to be fully inclusive and accommodating within our existing programming.
Camp Yachad Shadow Program
Since 2003, Camp Yachad campers with special needs have been paired with an individual or shared shadow; over
30 campers had individual shadows this year.
“When the Camp Yachad staff pairs your child with a shadow, that "special" assignment is invisible to the other
campers in the group enabling your child to feel included. The shadow program makes it possible for kids of any ability
to socialize with their peers in a fun, nurturing and secure environment.”
– Lisa and David Schiff
Camp Yachad Vocational Training Program
For the first year, we invited former campers with special needs to return to Camp Yachad in our Vocational
Training Program, a paid work experience. Five teens participated. They were paired with mentors and focused on
work skills, communication, teamwork, problem solving and professionalism. Their enthusiasm and positive
attitude was amazing! This program was made possible by over $21,000 in generous grants from Iris Teen Tzedakah,
Karma Foundation and Greater MetroWest ABLE/Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ.
“Our son’s overall attitude changed dramatically. Gary has expressed to us how he loves working at the camp while
interacting with the campers and other counselors and cannot wait to return every morning.”
– Rhonda and Mitch Taks
afternoons are for after care
• In FY16, we enrolled a record 240 children in After School at the J – up 133% over the previous year!
Staff increased 52% as well. All of this growth certainly added a great buzz to our afternoons.
• Every day, four buses picked up children from 16 area schools, including all of Scotch Plains and
Westfield elementary schools and an area private school.
To better accommodate working parents, we also added a 6:30 p.m. pick-up option for those who need a
little extra time to finish their day or commute.
“I have to say, I am beyond impressed with the JCC after care program! The program runs so smoothly; the
staff is so organized while keeping the children engaged, safe and genuinely happy. Bonus: my son gets his
homework done before I pick him up! I honestly feel as if we are part of a family and have zero worries or
concerns. Thank you, thank you for making our lives so much easier while keeping my children happy and
– Sascha Field