When most people think of the New Jersey YM-YWHA Camps they likely think of their specialty summer programs designed to develop skills in sports and other areas. After all, former Yankee Ron Blomberg, NBA basketball coach Herb Brown, and Olympic swimmer Lenny Krayzelburg teach at their camps. But this year, in addition to baseball, basketball, swimming, soccer, tennis, ceramics, painting, jewelry making, astronomy and cinematography the NJY camp also included a first-rate experience in inclusion of campers with disabilities.
As we start the New Year, it’s important to look back on what was accomplished for inclusion of Jews with disabilities this past year. We planted the seeds for future progress. Most of the work focused on “setting the table” for inclusion: raising awareness, creating critical policies and standards, and developing and conducting training for professionals. Hopefully, 2014 will be the year of implementation. Meanwhile, here are the top plays and players of 2013.
Editor's Note: This post is the second of two. In the first part, Rabbi Rebecca Schorr wrote about the long and sometimes painful process of trying to find a summer camp for her son, who has Asperger's. Finally, she and her husband found Round Lake, a Jewish camp that was “self-contained,” meaning it was designed specifically for children with disabilities. But then they found out that Round Lake was moving to another campus. Ben and his buddies will still have their own bunks, but they will spend much of the day in mainstream activities and social settings. Below, in part two of Rabbi Schorr's post, she gathers her thoughts about what is often called the “inclusion debate,” and concludes that it is a false dichotomy.
In a carefully-crafted letter, Round Lake billed the move as a positive change that will allow our kids access the more modern facilities at the Milford location as well as more elective opportunities with assurances that the camp will maintain its identity: “Think of it as everything RLC has always been, plus.”
Editor's Note: This post is the first of four parts. The second will run tomorrow and will reveal the author's thoughts about specialized and inclusive camps as she anticipates her son's summer.
With spring on the wing, many families are eagerly awaiting the expansive, sunshine-filled days of summer. But those of us parenting children with special needs often see the school-free summer as an annual albatross.