June 21, 2024
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Inclusion and Accommodation Are Key at JCC of Central NJ

The JCC of Central New Jersey is actively advancing inclusiveness for individuals with disabilities, according to it’s 2020 impact report. Through its various programs, the JCC impacted more than 2,000 individuals with disabilities during 2020. This included special accommodations or assistance for the JCC’s adaptive fitness, yoga and swim programs that were customized to each participant’s specific needs.

“Inclusion is not a program here at the JCC, it is a mindset,” said Beth Mitchell, the JCC’s director of inclusion and diversity. “We make forward-facing efforts every day to identify and break down barriers to participation and are incredibly proud to be the go-to resource in the community for inclusion and support services.”

In honor of Jewish Disabilities Awareness, Acceptance and Inclusion Month, the JCC coordinated with six local synonagues to coordinate a community-wide Shabbat service featuring Jewish teens and young adults with disabilities.They also hosted 1,200+ viewers during a virtual conversation entitled From Moses to Marlee: Celebrating Jews with Disabilities and Diverse Identities through Conversations, Creativity and Music. 

Through the JCC’s Camp Yachad program, 10 teens and young children with disabilities participated in the Camp Yachad Skills Training Program, where they engaged in paid supported employment, while more than 30 campers returned to Camp Yachad’s shadow program where staff support and accommodations to campers with disabilities are provided.

Hundreds of people utilized the JCC’s monthly inclusion and support webinars designed to educate and enrich the lives of parents providing care to children with disabilities. These webinars, provided in partnership with 16 agencies, businesses and professionals, are accessible to everyone on-demand on the JCC’s website. Upcoming monthly webinars for September, October and November include “An Insider’s Guide to Entering the NJ DDD System,” by attorneys at Porzio, Bromberg, & Newman, P.C., “Transition Planning Around Bill S3434,” by SPAN Parent Advocacy Network, and “The Gift of Accessible Experiences,” presented by Mitchell.

Digital accessibility also remains an important focus for the JCC. The JCC’s accessibility menu enables users to customize their experience based on their needs by adjusting the website’s color contrast, text and readability; keyboard navigation; and more. The website also has an accommodation request form that encourages requests for closed caption services, assistive listening devices, noise reducing headphones, sensory fidget tools, American Sign Language interpreters and other services. This is in addition to the already established wheelchair access for the campus’ indoor pool, meeting rooms and event spaces, fitness center, and gymnasium. The building also has designated spaces for convenient parking as well as a family restroom featuring a private bathroom with roll-in shower.

The JCC continues to add more programs and services, and in September, the JCC’s Club Connect will offer high school students with disabilities after-school social, recreational and wellness opportunities—the only program of its kind in the area. It is also launching a Parent Advocacy and Support Services (Parent PASS) program, where JCC members and non-member families will be able to learn vital skills to help them advocate for their child’s educational needs.

The 2020 report highlighted the JCC’s J-Embrace fundraising campaign, which raised $750k by fully leveraging a $250k matching grant by Preside, a foundation whose beneficiaries remain anonymous. This amount also included contributions from over 50 businesses and professional services to the JCC’s special needs resource directory, a comprehensive list of New Jersey agencies and businesses that support people with disabilities and their families.

The JCC of Central New Jersey is located in Scotch Plains, New Jersey. It was awarded the Fritz Jonach Upstander award by Kean University’s Diversity Council on Global Education and Citizenship and is an accredited ABLE-awarded agency by the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest ABLE. For more information about the JCC’s inclusion and diversity efforts, visit www.jccnj.org or contact Beth Mitchell, director of inclusion and diversity, at [email protected].

 

By Sigalle Barness

 

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