Special Needs Programming for Jewish Camps

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The Foundation for Jewish Camp has received a $60,000 research grant to map services available to children with special needs and physical disabilities at nonprofit Jewish overnight camps across North America.

"The immersive, joyous environment of Jewish overnight camp builds Jewish identity, strengthens the Jewish community, and fosters Jewish leadership. Unfortunately, many Jewish children with special needs and physical disabilities are unable to benefit from this unparalleled experience due to limited resources and programs," said Jeremy Fingerman, CEO of FJC.

FJC is working with Laszlo Strategies, a firm specializing in helping nonprofit groups champion the causes of medical science and people with physical and developmental disabilities. The research will provide an understanding of the options Jewish camps offer to children with special needs, and create a baseline for expanding services.

The Foundation began exploring this issue in July of 2012, visiting eight camps in the Northeast to see firsthand the types of programs nonprofit and for-profit camps offer.

Many Jewish camps are leaders in accommodating special needs children with inclusive or parallel programs, and several camps are able to assess and enroll children with special needs on a case-by-case basis.

Although Jewish overnight camps serve nearly 75,000 children each camping season, they are able to accommodate fewer than 1,000 special needs campers every summer. There are growing wait lists for many Jewish camps that serve children with disabilities.

This initial research will be the catalyst to exploring the range and types of activities camps could be utilizing to integrate campers with special needs.

"We are proud and excited to be working on this project," said Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, founder and president of Laszlo Strategies. "FJC is a data-driven organization that has already proved the importance of Jewish camp to the Jewish community and individuals alike. We aim to help them make it possible for every Jewish child to have the opportunity to experience the life-changing impact of a positive Jewish summer camp experience."

Last modified on Thursday, February 07, 2013 - 17:10

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Published in Youth

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