"We were truly blessed to be a part of the camp weekend; everyone was overwhelmingly open and kind to all of us. Our kids ask all the time to go back to Special Needs Family Camp, it is a magical experience."
Parent participant of our INCLUDE Special Needs Family Camp Weekend
Every year during INCLUDE's Special Needs Family Camp weekend, I am in awe of the loving, supportive, caring community created by our families, and every year I wish it didn't have to end. This year, thanks to the generosity of the Jewish Federation and Jewish Community Foundation of the East Bay, we were able to extend the warm, inclusive camp experience to campers and newcomers at a Winter Reunion held in Berkeley at Congregation Netivot Shalom.
I watched our tight-knit community instantly open to embrace a whole new set of families. I watched parents just starting the journey with their child(ren) with special needs come to tears as they discussed their stresses, challenges, and joys, and I watched parents who have been on their journey for many years freely offer them wisdom, hugs, and advice. Instant connections were made.
Immediately afterward a new parent told me "this is exactly the community we have been looking for." Her relief and joy were palpable. In that moment, Berkeley was just as magical as the Santa Rosa Mountains.
During National Jewish Disabilities Awareness Month and all year round, we join our colleagues across the nation and right here in the Bay Area in the important work of making inclusion of individuals with special needs an everyday reality in the Jewish community. We believe that with the right resources and support, every preschool, day school, synagogue, and community center can be magical too.
To support this important work, consider making a contribution today.
David Neufeld, Ph.D.
Director of INCLUDE