The most powerful evidence of effective inclusion can often be found in the testimonies of those who experience it. Both parents and their children with disabilities are affected by inclusion. Here are their stories:
- Terry, a third-grade boy with Landau-Kleffner syndrome, has been a JCC School-Age Childcare (SAC) and summer camp participant since 2003. Terry experienced severe challenges during his first year of participation and was often unable to participate in programming due to his behavior. JCC staff worked with Terry's family and his school to come up with strategies and solutions that would provide him with a consistent, supportive, and nurturing environment. Program staff received extensive training to help them support Terry in the inclusive setting at the JCC. These efforts, coupled with Terry's familiarity with the JCC setting, have enabled him to participate in most activities with great success. Last summer, he participated alongside his peers during the final performance and exhibition at the end of camp. He delivered several spoken lines in the play, and performed dance numbers with typical partners. Terry continues to participate in the School-Aged Childcare program at the JCC. Several of his friends from camp also attend SAC. With their support and additional staff training, Terry has been able to participate with minimal staff assistance. This fall, he was invited to a birthday party of one of his typical peers for the first time. The camper and his family are pleased with his success. His inclusion at the JCC has provided the other campers with valuable experience in inclusion and acceptance of children with disabilities.
- At Camp Butwin last summer, Joshua, a fifth-grade camper with autism, was able to overcome severe anxiety and participate on the high ropes course for the first time since he began attending camp 3 years ago. He climbed the rock wall, attempted the cherry picker, and did the zip line for the first time this summer. The other group members encouraged him, cheered his accomplishments, and helped other campers in the group develop patience and empathy. When one typical camper began to express frustration with the amount of time it was taking for Joshua to ascend the course, another camper said, 'Josh is trying to overcome one of his biggest fears right now. It's our job to help him.' At the end of the summer, one of the kids in his group said, 'The best part of camp was when Josh did the zip line and we all helped him and cheered for him.'
Parents and families also benefit from the JCC's inclusive programming. One parent wrote last spring: I'd like to tell you how meaningful my family's connection with the JCC has been. I am a single parent of two children, one of whom has a developmental disability. We are very lucky to be able to turn to the JCC for support. I often drop my children off at the Kid's Club Room while I study or exercise. My disabled son attends many recreation programs, and when necessary, an aide is made available. The JCC's commitment to inclusion means that there will be no embarrassment for me if my son should have a hard time.'
|Everyone takes part in Band Practice at the JCC!|