Yachad, the Orthodox Union’s agency for individuals with special needs, has partnered with two leading Modern Orthodox mainstream camp programs in Toronto in which individuals with special needs will be given educational and social experiences with full Inclusion in the camps. Registration is still open.
The programs will be held at Camp Moshava Ennismore (Tuesday, July 30 through Tuesday, August 13) and Moshava Ba’Ir Toronto (Monday, July 1 through Friday, August 16). Both camps are divisions of the Bnei Akiva Religious Zionist youth movement.
“Yachad,” the flagship agency of the Orthodox Union’s National Jewish Council for Disabilities (NJCD), provides unique social, educational and recreational programs for individuals with learning, developmental and physical disabilities with the goal of their Inclusion in the total life of the Jewish community.
“We are excited to expand Yachad’s mission of Inclusion within the broad Jewish community by partnering with Moshava Ennismore and Moshava Ba’Ir Toronto,” stated Dr. Joe Goldfarb, Yachad director of summer programs. “The partnerships reflect Yachad’s growing relationship with Bnei Akiva, based upon the success of our first vocational program in New Jersey last summer, and our involvement at Camp Moshava in Pennsylvania with a successful Inclusive vocational program run by Yachad.”
Program participation is open to members and non-members of Yachad, based upon an application and interview process. Galya Ouanounou, director of Toronto Yachad, noted, “Proper support, and well thought-out relevant, fun, and safe programming will be offered to our participants. They may also be eligible for funding through local agencies.”
Camp Moshava Ennismore, near Peterborough, Ontario, will allow campers with special needs, ages 8-15, to be placed in separate male and female Yachad bunks with a high ratio of counselor staff, and participate in activities with mainstream bunks during the day.
“For the past five years, Camp Moshava has been integrating special needs campers through an internal program called Acheinu, but knowing the reputation that Yachad has and the success stories that we have heard through other Jewish camps, we decided it was time to take our goals to the next level by teaming up with Yachad,” noted Vicky Shizgal, director of Camp Moshava Canada. “The experience that Yachad has will ensure that the program will be implemented successfully which in turn will help further our goals of giving every Jewish child the opportunity to experience what Jewish summer camp has to offer.”
The Moshava Ba’Ir Toronto camp program, based in the city itself, is intended to help local residents, ages 18-30 with special needs, who are capable and willing workers, to find a summer job and improve vocational skills. The program will take place Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. at the Moshava Ba’Ir Day Camp in the Associated Hebrew Day School building, 252 Finch Avenue West.
“By having Yachad participants integrated within our staff at Moshava Ba'ir Toronto, we hope to give them the opportunity to interact and socialize in a professional camp environment,” emphasized Camp Manager Dikla Weitzner. “We hope this will be a rewarding and educational experience for our new Yachad members, as well as our current staff members and campers.”
Participants may work for either four or the full eight weeks of the camp season. With the guidance of a job coach, vocational workers will be given assignments based upon interest and skill level—among them, assisting within specialty fields such as arts and crafts or sports. In addition, Yachad will provide social programming for all staff.
“Yachad's involvement will be to enable adults with disabilities to be staff members -- just like any other staff – where they will learn important vocational and social skills,” said Nechama Braun, Yachad summer programs administrator. “Continuing the quality successful programming run by Yachad at Camps Morasha, Nesher, Mesorah, Moshava, and Lavi in Pennsylvania, we will look at each staff members’ goals to make it a meaningful and fun educational experience for each of them. This is another unique opportunity provided by Yachad to facilitate full Inclusion within the broad Jewish community.”
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