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October 23, 2014 | 29th Tishrei 5775
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Special Needs Programs

Programming for everyone

We are committed to providing Reform Jewish experiences to all children, including those with special needs. Here are a few of our favorite stories of how our programs have impacted young people with disabilities:

Greene Family CampWhen The Entire Camp Is A Challenge Course
Molly is a nine-year-old camper at Greene Family Camp. Born with Cerebral Palsy, she is used to facing challenges. But, with the help of the camp community, Molly is gaining confidence, overcoming obstacles and accomplishing her goals. She's realizing that it's okay to be different and that it's rewarding to stand up to challenges.

RAC LEvery Child Has Something To Offer
The text message caught Susan Weiner off-guard. "Got the flyer. I am going to Washington." Susan's son Jacob, who has been diagnosed with PDD-NOS and bipolar syndrome, heard about the RAC L'Taken Seminar, where teens learn about social justice and lobby on Capitol Hill, and wanted to go

Camp NewmanEthan Goes To Camp: Mainstreaming Kids With Special Needs
Since his diagnosis of autism at age 2, Ethan's parents have worked hard to "mainstream" him into everyday activities. So, when it came to picking a camp, everyone knew he was ready. During his summer at Camp Newman, Ethan improved his social skills, gained independence and matured in a loving environment.

Camp ChazakA Camping Experience For Children With Special Needs: Superlatives Don't Do It Justice
"Amazing" is the first word that comes to mind when Stephen Weitzman thinks about his time at Chazak, a program at URJ Eisner & Crane Lake Camps that allows children with social delays to experience the joy of a "typical" camp environment.

Summer Programs
These summer programs at the URJ Camps are open to participants with disabilities from throughout North America:

Mitzvah Corps at Kutz (NY)
Ages 13-19

A "camp within a camp" immersion program at URJ Kutz Camp that incorporates peer-to-peer mentorship into a broader, more mainstream camping experience for teens on the Autism Spectrum.

Camp Chazak at Eisner and Crane Lake (MA)
Ages 8-14

A clinically-based, therapeutic and recreational camping experience at URJ Eisner and Crane Lake Camps for children with communication and social delays.

NEW! Chadash Program for Young Adults at URJ Camp Coleman (GA)
Ages 18-24

A program for young adults with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities who seek the opportunity to participate in the joy of a URJ Camp community. Chadash will provide vocational training in a supervised work setting along with an opportunity for the participants to join in a wide range of recreational, social, and educational components of camp life.

In addition to these specialized programs, all 14 of our URJ Camps have Inclusion Coordinators, trained professionals hired by each of our camps to support campers with special needs, who are prepared to work with caregivers and professionals to plan for and provide a fulfilling camp experience for all children.
Inclusion & Jewish Teens

From the Journal of Youth Engagement:

When the Door Isn't Always Open: Inclusion and Jewish Teens

Sometimes it feels like "inclusion" is a buzz word. Talking about inclusion is "in" right now. It's on the radar of the URJ, our congregations, our school systems, and our communities. Growing up with a neurological disorder, Tourette Syndrome, Pam Schuller was on the other end of the inclusion talk.  Now, as a youth professional, she tries to teach the idea that inclusion is not about what we can't do because we are accommodating teens with special needs, but what we get to do because our community is growing with our members.

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