Mélange Accessibility for All Magazine January 2021 - Page 96

Massiraa

Fashion Show featuring adapted clothing for people with disabilities

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Photo Credit : Rasanga Fernando Photography .
Exploring CAMPS in Israel by Howard Blas for people with disabilities T he American Camping Association (ACA), which employs more than 320,000 camp staff and serves over 7.2 million children in its 2,400 ACA- accredited camps report in a 2017 study that 44% of camps offer specialized programs for individuals with disabilities. They proudly note, "For 120 years, the organized camp experience has been serving individuals with special needs." These camps began by serving campers with physical challenges and this “was the beginning of a pattern of the camp community’s response to societal issues affecting campers with a wide variety of diagnoses, including polio, intellectual and physical disabilities, childhood diabetes, cancer, and HIV/AIDS.” In the Jewish camping world, Herb and Barbara Greenberg, two special education teachers, started the Tikvah Program at Camp Ramah in New England in 1970 for campers with intellectual and developmental disabilities. There has been tremendous growth in the area of inclusion of people with disabilities in Jewish summer camps since that time. According to Jeremy Fingerman, CEO of the Foundation for Jewish Camp, 3,744 campers with disabilities participated in FJC overnight camps in 2019 and 4,145 in day camps. While many camps did not operate in person in the summer of 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, it is the norm around the world for children with disabilities to participate in summer day and overnight camps and respite camps. These camps differ in affiliation and structure: they may be public or private, faith based or non- denominational (communal), and they may feature various models of camping including fully inclusive, camp within a camp, and separate camps for people with disabilities. In the United States, overnight camps typically take place during the summer months, and last from several days to 8-weeks. Campers often travel many hours by plan, bus or car to arrive at camp. In Israel, a country roughly the size of New Jersey, overnight camps are a relatively new phenomena and tend to last from 5 days to 14 days. The recently established Summer Camps Israel organization aims to promote greater involvement in 30 summer camps throughout Israel. Several camps and organizations in Israel currently meet the needs of participants with disabilities and their families. Programs Serving Special Populations Shutaf, a year-round Jerusalem-based program, serves 300 participants, ages 6-30, with and without disabilities. They employ a reverse-inclusion model which brings together participants with diverse developmental, physical, and learning disabilities (75% of participants), alongside participants without disabilities (25% of participants). Co-founder Beth Steinberg reports, “When we moved to Israel in 2006, the camp world here was underdeveloped. The ideas of an American style camp with values to grow and become was unheard of. We wanted summers to be the best time for our kids and we wanted to serve all kinds of needs.” Summers in Israel are usually very hot. Without camp programs, children often stay home alone or with siblings while parents work. Steinberg’s program offers a three-week day camp program each August, with arts and crafts, science, music and movement, sports, archery and a ropes course. Steinberg and her Shutaf team quickly responded to the Covid crisis by offering “Camp in a Box,” carefully planned “boxes” containing arts and crafts projects, sports equipment and gardening projects which were delivered and to over 150 participants. “It felt like a happy gift,” reports Steinberg proudly. Similar boxes are provided to participants and families during the Jewish holidays of Passover (April) and Chanukah (December) when children are on break from school. Steinberg, a veteran of the camp scene in Israel, reports, “There has been some changes recently in camping, with more choices now and some programs offering short term sleepaway programs.” www.shutafinclusionprograms.org/shutaf-about/ 2 3 To Table of Contents To Table of Contents