When our family moved to Scotch Plains, we were so excited to live near a JCC where our children could be involved in a variety of activities within a safe, nurturing environment. Little did we know, our son Josh would eventually be diagnosed with autism and would not be able to participate in many mainstream settings. Although we felt discouraged, we still wanted Josh to be a part of the JCC. Lucky for us, our JCC wanted to include him and offered a “shadow” program for kids who need additional support. Now Josh is 14-years-old and the JCC is one of his (and our!) favorite places in the community. Over the past 11 years, Josh has been in Camp Yachad, After School care, fitness activities and now Intracudas. And the best part? The JCC has always been happy to help us. At every point, whenever we inquired about Josh joining an activity, the JCC provided shadow support to maximize his participation in the program. The support staff have been college students at Camp Yachad and dynamic high school students in after school activities. Every shadow has always been warm, enthusiastic, committed and sensitive to Josh’s needs. And the result? Josh feels at home at the JCC. He feels welcome and comfortable and makes progress in his activities. I remember watching Josh in his first Camp Yachad show. OMG - he sung his heart out! Recently Josh participated in a practice swim meet. The amazing aquatics staff had anticipated his needs so well that he needed little prompting to stay on task. There are many reasons that we love our JCC, but the biggest one for our family is its dedication to an inclusive environment and its willingness to explore possibilities for its members.