Something very exciting is going to happen in our area - and you can be a part of it. It will be a one-day, meaningful, substantive and fun training on how institutions, professionals and volunteers who serve children can be inclusive of children with disabilities/special needs. It is exactly the program that our community has needed to expand our welcoming tent to include Jewish children who otherwise might be denied their Jewish birthright.

"Pursuing Justice Through Inclusion," organized by Sara Portman Milner, LCSW-C and special needs concierge for the Partnership for Jewish Life and Learning, will be held on May 2, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., at Temple Beth Ami in Rockville. Wonderful organizations are involved - and you should be, too.

The speakers are nationally known experts Stuart J. Schleien, Ph.D. and Aron Hall who are being flown in special for this opportunity. Dr. Schleien serves as the director of graduate study in the department of community and therapeutic recreation at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. A licensed recreational therapist and certified therapeutic recreation specialist, he has developed best practices in helping parents and professionals design inclusive recreation, physical activity, friendship and volunteer programs for children and adults who have diverse skills and abilities. He has expertise serving as a systems change agent, in which he has helped agencies manage successful organizational change and development. He has published extensively on recreation and friendship skills development as well as on social inclusion of individuals with disabilities.

Mr. Hall is the director of programs for The National Inclusion Project. His organization serves to bridge the gap that exists between young people with disabilities and the world around them. In partnership with communities and inclusion programs, they highlight the benefits of inclusion. Mr. Hall brings multiple experiences in education and recreational programs. His achievements include creating and implementing a full summer day camp program as a summer camp director. He also brings experience directing a chapter of Royal Family Kids' Camp, which is an overnight camp (non-profit) for kids in foster care.

Opening remarks will be by Steve Rakitt, CEO of The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington. Rakitt is a visionary thinker in expanding access to the Jewish community.

Topics at the training will include: making inclusion a community value, laying the groundwork for being inclusive, ADA/addressing physical access issues, serving families effectively, achieving inclusion even with limited resources, using people-first language, achieving positive behaviors and program adaptation and accommodation.

Cost to attend is as low as $18 (max is $36 for people not connected to any of the many co-sponsors listed below) and includes a continental breakfast, lunch and training materials. Our family is underwriting the program along with The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington because we know that great training can make the Jewish community a much better, more open, and exciting place for all.

For more information and to register, visit the PJLL website: The co-sponsors are The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington; Association of Jewish Family & Children's Agencies; Atlantic Seaboard - NCSY; Autism Society; Baltimore Jewish Abilities Alliance (Jewish Community Center of Greater Baltimore); Be Social Kids; Beth Sholom Congregation and Talmud Torah; Capital Camps; Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School; Congregation B'nai Tzedek; Gateways: Access to Jewish Education; Hebrew College Inclusive Education Roundtable (HIER); Inclusion Innovations; Jewish Community Center of Greater Washington; Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia; Jewish Council for the Aging (JCA); Jewish Family Services of Milwaukee; Jewish Foundation for Group Homes; Kemp Mill Synagogue; Matan; Partnership for Early Childhood Development & Disability Rights (PECDDR); Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism; SULAM; Sunflower Bakery; Temple Beth Ami; The Friendship Circle; The Jewish Inclusion Project; Washington DCJCC; Washington Parent Magazine.

Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi is the president of Laszlo Strategies and the co-founder & director of the Mizrahi Family Charitable Trust. 

Published by The Washington Jewish Week.

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