Announcing NAIM for Third Year: February 2012

January 6, 2012

YACHAD/NJCD AND THE ORTHODOX UNION ANNOUNCE FEBRUARY 2012 IS THIRD ANNUAL NORTH AMERICAN INCLUSION MONTH (NAIM)

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NAIM is coming.

February 2012 is North American Inclusion Month (NAIM). Now in its third year, NAIM is an initiative of the Orthodox Union’s Yachad/the National Jewish Council for Disabilities (NJCD) designated to raise awareness and to develop sensitivity of what it means for those who live with disabilities, and how to Include them within the larger Jewish community.

NJCD has two main programmatic divisions: Yachad | Jewish Disabilities Integration, for children and adults with learning and developmental disabilities; and Our Way, for the deaf and hard of hearing.

Working with communities across North America, NJCD is planning a whole new series of events for February 2012. The official NAIM website, which will list events as they are added, can be found at www.naim4inclusion.org. In addition to listing all participating NAIM events, the website provides easy access for program ideas and resources provided by Yachad.

Dr. Jeffrey Lichtman, National Director of Yachad/NJCD, originated the idea for NAIM, and has overseen the program content. Dr. Lichtman stated, “NAIM has stretched the reach of Yachad/NJCD beyond the 55 chapters we have across the United States and Canada. Communities that previously had no contact with us have been sensitized to the need to actively welcome and Include individuals with disabilities in the community. In other communities, like Chicago and South Florida, where we have thriving active Yachad chapters, NAIM has allowed us to deepen the community understanding of disabilities, simultaneously broadening the chapters through outreach.”

This year, NAIM events are focusing on strengthening Yachad’s growing chapters across North America: Baltimore; Boston; Chicago; Cleveland and Columbus in OH; Dallas; Greater New York City area; Houston; Long Island, NY; Los Angeles; Omaha, NE; Silver Spring, MD; South Florida; East Brunswick, Teaneck, and West Orange in NJ; Toronto; and Washington D.C.

A “Save the Month” card announcing NAIM went out to almost a thousand synagogues and schools, as well as hundreds of Yachad-connected communities. E-mail blasts and a full-scale brochure went out to that audience as well, reminding them of the many wonderful events in which they could participate.

One of this year’s premiere programs offered to meet the interests and needs of Jewish day schools, includes “Sensitizing your Students to the Learning Challenges of their Peers” — a well-received training workshop initiated last year for NAIM for both students and educators, including summer camp programs. The workshop was developed by The National Association of Jewish Schools Serving Special Children (NAJSSSC), a division of Yachad.

According to Batya Jacob, Director of NAJSSSC, “Since last year’s NAIM, more than 2,000 students from across the United States participated in Yachad’s Sensitivity Workshop ‘Walk in Someone Else’s Shoes.’ The students moved between various positions and experienced different types of learning challenges including writing challenges, dyslexia and reading, challenges on the autism spectrum, speech deficits, and fine and gross motor challenges. We have adapted the student workshop so that it can be utilized to sensitize educators, with a more intensive emphasis dyslexia and autism spectrum. We are also offering a version for training summer camp staff. We are once again offering this workshop to schools, youth groups, and community programs. Please contact Batya Jacob at {encode=”mailto:batyaj@ou.org” title=”batyaj@ou.org “}to schedule this program at your school or community.”

Visit www.naim4inclusion.org, e-mail {encode=”mailto:naim@ou.org” title=”naim@ou.org,”} or contact 212-613-8229 to learn more about NAIM and the many events communities can partake in as part of the special awareness month.

OU | Enhancing Jewish Life