Yachad Opens Doors at Camp for Everyone

While it is true that summer is still several months away, this is the time to begin making plans for summer camp for your children. Jewish Community Center Summer Camp brochures will be in mailboxes shortly and 2015 Summer Camp information will soon be available online.

JCC Summer Camp is a place where all children can participate fully in a transformative experience that they will remember for the rest of their lives. Every camper will discover, grow and learn within a supportive environment. It’s a world of friends and fun, accomplishment and laughter.

To ensure the JCC Summer Camp is fully accessible, the Yachad Program for children with special needs will expand this year. “We’d like to have 35 children with identified differences,” said Early Childhood Assistant Director Angie Hiland, who directs the Yachad Program, “and we want to employ 8-10 advocates and advocate assistants as well as a Yachad Program Coordinator.

The success of last year’s Yachad Program can best be told through letters received from parents.

Dear Angie,

I just wanted to take a minute and express my thanks for the Jewish Community Center Summer Camp! As summer approaches each year, I start to get concerned about where my son can spend his days in a safe, happy and scheduled environment. My son has many disabilities and it is difficult for him to try new things and go new places.
JCC Summer camp was exactly what he needed. You provided happy and caring counselors and I was especially impressed with the one-on-one counselor that you provided my son with. This made all the difference in making his days at camp successful. He felt safe, comfortable and familiar with the schedule, which made it easy for him to go every day.

The staff were always accommodating and friendly and I was so thankful every day that my son could enjoy Summer Camp! We will definitely be back next summer!

Lisa Hinnen


Dear Angie,

Evan has always had trouble fitting in and getting along with people and kids. This makes finding care for him very difficult. I normally put him in the YMCA Summer Camp and that is just a zoo. Not to mention he was crying and stressed every day. It was heartbreaking, as a mother, to drop him off every day somewhere I knew he was miserable but I didn’t have any other options.

I was so happy to find you all. There is nowhere else that can offer him an advocate the way JCC did. Sometimes all he needs is a “Ted” to give that extra support to be able to feel like a regular kid. Again… we are forever grateful.
Please let the donor [who made the Yachad program possible] know that we are forever grateful for the experience that Evan was able to have this summer. He is like a different kid.

He has had a wonderful start to the school year and almost seems to have a new outlook on life. He is very positive and seems to have more confidence. He had a “Get to know me” project and when it asked what did you do this summer he practically ran out of room to write.

JCC gave him experiences that he would not have had otherwise. I am thankful to you and all the staff there. Your patience with Evan has had a lasting effect on him. We will see you next summer!!!

Thank you,
Rachael E. Henderson


Hi Angie,
I wanted to reiterate what a great time Hayley had this summer at JCC Camp.

As you know, she spent most of her time in Camp Keff. One experience she had, which I thought was truly enriching was her introduction to children with special needs. In fact, during one session Hayley informed me that one of the little boys in her group, Jonathan, attended her school in the special needs class.

I thought it was so cool that a child Hayley recognized – who is not mainstreamed in public school – was mainstreamed during camp. I think it “humanizes” these children and makes the other children realize they aren’t different from them. Hayley knew that Jonathan had special needs, but she didn’t fixate on it. It was as if a child wears glasses or has a broken leg.

One time, I recall dropping Hayley off and Jonathan was so sweet and said, “Hi Hayley. Hi, Hayley’s mom.” I told Hayley wouldn’t it be so cool if you saw Jonathan in the hallways in school and could say “hi” to him? How neat would that be for him to see a familiar face in the mainstream class and her have a friend in special needs?

I think it’s wonderful how these children assimilate into their camp groups and participate at their capacity. I enjoy that my child is getting exposure to all types of children. It’s important for her to learn empathy and compassion and to keep an open mind and the earlier she learns these traits the better.
Keep up the great work!
Melanie Wachsman

For more information about the Yachad Program, contact Angie Hiland, 502-238-2716 or ahiland@jewishlouisville.org. Watch your mail and JCCLouisvilleCamp.org for more information about JCC Summer Camp.

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