Last month, the Orthodox Union’s Yachad | Jewish Disabilities Integration/The National Jewish Council for Disabilities (NJCD) sponsored North American Inclusion Month (NAIM). Communities, schools, and organizations across America worked with Yachad staff to educate and focus on promoting the Inclusion of individuals with physical and developmental disabilities within the broad Jewish community.
To meet the interest and needs of Jewish day schools, The National Association of Jewish Schools Serving Special Children (NAJSSSC), a division of Yachad, created “Sensitizing your Students to the Learning Challenges of their Peers” — quickly becoming a popular training workshop for both students and educators, including summer camp programs.
More than 1,400 students from Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Southern Florida and the New York Metropolitan communities have already participated in the workshops, which are held in the schools. Yachad staff and local educators facilitate the workshops.
According to Batya Jacob, Director of NAJSSSC, “Every child is entitled to a Jewish education alongside their peers. Each child learns differently and their individual needs deserve attention so that they can learn to their fullest potential. At the same time, we believe that being socially accepted is the key part of the positive development and growth of all students. This experience enables students from the broader population to return to class with a new understanding, sensitivity, and patience with their special needs peers. In turn, we hope that this will lead to greater social Inclusion of their special needs friends into their daily activities.”
The program has the students divided into groups in order to perform hands-on activities demonstrating specific learning issues such as hearing loss; hand and walking impairments; dyslexia and reading disorders; autism; speech disorders; and ADD/ADHD. Activities may include spelling tests presented in “Deaf Speech;” looking through various materials to see how vision can be restricted; and performing various challenges in reading and writing while being exposed to distracting stimuli.
“[The workshop] enabled the students to have a valuable learning experience and an opportunity to enhance their sensitivity to those who have various challenges,” wrote an administrator from Brauser Maimonides Academy in Fort Lauderdale.
“The kids’ workshop was awesome. Our fourth through eighth graders really got into the activities, and the teachers were wonderful,” declared an educator from the Hillel Academy in Milwaukee.
The workshops have already been scheduled for faculty training before the next school year begins. All necessary materials are provided. Yachad staff also provides an introductory package for students to bring home and follow-up ideas for schools to reinforce the experiences from the workshop.
To schedule the sensitivity training workshops at your school, or for further information, contact Batya Jacob at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (212) 613-8127.
The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.
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