Tucson JCC  introduces interactive Inclusion exhibit 

 February is Jewish Disabilities Awareness, Acceptance, and Inclusion Month, during which the Tucson Jewish Community Center will introduce its community to the Eight Guiding Principles of Inclusion through an interactive exhibit housed throughout the J beginning Feb 20 through the end of the month. Recently developed by the JCC Association of North America with help from a task force that included the Tucson J’s President and CEO, Todd Rockoff, the principles will help JCC communities consider ways to enhance their inclusion efforts and incorporate best practices into their communities. The exhibit will invite viewers to share their reactions to the principles and their experience with Inclusion at the J and beyond. 

The JCC Movement understands and defines Inclusion as a set of practices, rooted in the belief of the inherent dignity and worth of the individual, designed to yield a culture in which everyone feels welcomed, valued, respected, and heard. 

As society has gained a more sophisticated understanding of disability, JCCs also have learned to provide more inclusive services for individuals with disabilities. In that regard, JCCs have acted individually, responding to the specific needs of their communities as they have arisen. 

Inclusion has long been an integral part of the mission and vision at the Tucson J, but, recognizing both the importance of this work and the growing need within the broader Tucson community, the J recently added Haylee Davis, a full-time Inclusion Coordinator to the team. Now with a designated staff member to spearhead new initiatives, the J has big plans for the future. 

Building on the foundation of success set by programs like Taglit (the J’s DDD program for young adults with physical and cognitive disabilities), Central Sparks, Camp J and ECE Summer Camp Inclusion Programs, and ACEing Autism, the J will focus on deepening the breadth of inclusion throughout the entire agency. 

Starting with the JCCA Maccabi Access Games, which the J will participate in this July as part of a pilot group, the J hopes to create additional year-round social and recreational programming and vocational opportunities for individuals with disabilities and to bolster its current Amplifying Voices and J-Pride programs. 


About the Tucson J:

Together with the greater Tucson community, the Tucson Jewish Community Center (the J) creates opportunities for people from all faiths, identities, abilities, and walks of life to connect, grow, and learn together. Located off of East River Road in Tucson, the J is a vibrant non-profit community center that serves over 5,000 members on its 110,000 square-foot facility with programs ranging from arts and culture, sports and wellness, and children and family. The J is committed to serving the community by offering a robust schedule of events that reach people at all stages of their lives. Learn more at tucsonjcc.org.

About Taglit: 

Taglit is a full-day program designed to explore, cultivate, and maximize each individual’s potential. By emphasizing wellness, social action, education, and fun, we work to meet each individual’s unique needs through a program spirited by Jewish values and communal harmony.

This day program for adults, post high school onwards, is comprised of social, leisure, and vocational activities both in the community and at The J. Taglit is split into two tracks. Avodah is our work program. Ha’Asharah is our enrichment program. Both programs partake in volunteer work in the community through partnerships with Dogtopia, Adopt-a-Park, Keep Tucson Clean, Beads of Courage and more.

Avodah emphasizes life skills which promote vocational success such as money management, nutrition, job readiness, personal organization, self-advocacy skills, etc.

Vocational skills are taught by hands on experience and with supplemental materials such as how to write a resume for example. Our participants strengthen their social skills through activities such as Spanish Class, Shabbat, and monthly planning, and volunteering.

Ha’ Asharah emphasizes life skills which promote increased independence in areas such as problem-solving, communication, personal projects, community participation and more. 

About the Maccabi Access Games:

JCC Maccabi is one of the preeminent Jewish youth serving platforms in North America and plays a vital role within and beyond the JCC Movement, helping to inspire Jewish identity building, strengthen community connections and as a key leadership development pipeline. In an effort to expand the JCC Maccabi platform to even more Jewish teens, a new experience was developed for the 2022 Maccabi Games for Jewish athletes with disabilities: the JCC Maccabi Access Games. The goal of the Maccabi Access Games is to cultivate a JCC Maccabi experience for Jewish teens with intellectual and developmental disabilities that include specialized and unified program elements.

The pilot JCC Maccabi Access Games will launch this year hosted by the Lawrence Family JCC on the Jacobs Family Campus in San Diego, July 31-August 2, 2022. This is a 3-year pilot (2022-24) with aim to grow and expand, so in future (2025 and beyond) Access becomes part of every host community. The goal is to develop the program, so it is replicable and becomes a permanent aspect of future JCC programs.

The Tucson J’s President and CEO, Todd Rockoff is a JCC Maccabi Access Games Co-Chair.

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