Yachad and Camp Stone Partner to Create Staff Jobs for Individuals with Special Needs
January 12, 2017
New York, NY — Yachad, the National Jewish Council for Disabilities, announced a partnership with Camp Stone in which Yachad members will participate in their camp community for the first-time as staff members (during their second session) through a vocational training program offered by Yachad.
“When my wife Estee and I were Roshei Moshava, we had a child in camp, Joey, who had a developmental disability,” said Yakov Fleischmann, co-director of Camp Stone. “Joey thrived in camp, and added so much to the culture of both his bunk and camp overall. He made a really big impact – as a single individual. He never worked on staff at Camp Stone, and for many years we have been thinking that if the cornerstone of our mission is youth leadership and development, and our emphasis is staff, then how amazing would it be for young adults with developmental disabilities to work on staff as well, and raise all of us to greater heights.”
For Camp Stone, a popular Orthodox Jewish summer camp in western Pennsylvania, this partnership is significant, as it continues the strong partnership between Yachad and Bnei Akiva affiliated camps.
“Jobs and vocational experiences are and ultimate form of inclusion,” said Dr. Jeff Lichtman, international director of Yachad. “Vocational Programming is our fastest growing area. In summer 2014, we had 56 participants in this program. A mere two years later, we had 91 vocational workers.”
Yachad’s summer programs served 425 individuals who have special needs this past summer alone, and the partnership with Stone marks Yachad’s 15th camp partner, with 24 different program offerings across the United States, Canada and Israel.
Parents of participants in previous years raved about the program. “My son’s experience this summer in the Yachad vocational program in camp Mesorah was nothing short of ‘amazing’!” said one mother. “He felt that he truly ‘belonged’ in camp Mesorah and was well accepted by all. Ari, the camp director had a way of making everyone feel genuinely welcomed, and Chani, the Yachad director, made all the members an integral part of everyday life in camp. Thank you to everyone- it was a fantastic summer for J.J., because here, ‘everyone belongs’.”
The experience of vocational training for Yachad participants is life-changing: “My daughter blossomed this year in the vocational program,” another parent wrote. “She was given the job of working in the office and separating camper’s emails and packages. Her daily interactions helped develop her self confidence and as a result her social and conversational skills were enhanced.”
Camp Stone co-director Estee Fleischmann said that this partnership is at the core of the camp’s philosophy: “We feel strongly that in creating the authentic model society that we do in camp, inclusion of all people, regardless of personal challenges, including developmental disabilities, is a core value. Our partnership with Yachad derives from an appreciation for the work that Yachad has done toward accomplishing this goal. We couldn’t be more excited to benefit from the professionalism and knowledge of the Yachad staff and program!”
Yachad, The National Jewish Council for Disabilities, and a program of the Orthodox Union, is a thriving global organization dedicated to addressing the needs of all Jewish individuals with disabilities and ensuring their inclusion in every aspect of Jewish life. Our inclusive design aims to ensure persons with diverse abilities their rightful place within the Jewish community, while helping to educate and advocate for a greater understanding, acceptance, outreach, and a pro-disability attitude.
About Camp Stone:
Camp Stone is an Orthodox Jewish summer camp located in Western Pennsylvania. Its vision is to cultivate within every child that walks through the gates of Camp Stone an unwavering lifelong commitment to Am Yisrael, Eretz Yisrael, and Torat Yisrael. It encourage its campers to develop their own individual leadership potential, enables them to become self-reliant, and encourages them to become a contributing and functional member of the group or “kvutza.”
For more information, contact Yachad Summer Programs at YachadSummer@ou.org or 212-613-8369.