Celebrating Jewish Ottawa’s inclusion successes

In the past year, the Jewish Ottawa community has seen some amazing successes in inclusion. As we head into Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month this February, the E-Bulletin wanted to take a look at some of those wins: 

Camp B'nai Brith of Ottawa launched its Inclusion Initiative in 2022 so that children with unique abilities and exceptionalities could experience the magic of summer camp. 

“This program was extremely impactful for the campers who participated, and we are excited to welcome them back for another amazing summer,” said Associate Director Jill Doctor. “Being able to give kids a ‘home away from home’ means everything to us at CBBO, and we’re working to grow our Inclusion Initiative for summer 2023 and beyond.”

Learn more about the new initiative: https://www.ottawajewishbulletin.com/jewish-ottawa/cbb-welcomes-campers-of-all-abilities-for-summer-2022

Tamir launched youth programs to tackle the long waiting lists in Ottawa for young people facing challenges. There are five new programs — Sunday Funday, Adventure Club, Urban Explorers, and an after-school program, along with a supper program. 

“Some of these kids get lost, so this is a great opportunity for us to tap into their talents and work on their social skills, negotiation, and community inclusion, so they can get really challenging careers and help the world,” said Risa Plotnik, executive director of Tamir. “You can learn anything when you practice enough. What they have is amazing brain power, and they lack social skills, so this program I think is really incredible.”

Learn more about the new Tamir programs: https://www.ottawajewishbulletin.com/agency-news/tamir-launches-youth-programs-to-tackle-long-waitlist

Also in 2022, the Jewish Federation of Ottawa in partnership with Tamir hired a Community Inclusion Coordinator, a brand-new position designed to make our community more inclusive of people with disabilities.

“Everybody wants to be inclusive, they want to make sure their institutions are welcoming to all people. Sometimes though, we might need a helping hand, or to do an internal audit,” said Jodi Green, the new coordinator. “They might not even know the questions to ask. [The Community Inclusion Coordinator]  will help offer support, encourage, and provide resources.”

Learn more about the new role: https://www.ottawajewishbulletin.com/jewish-ottawa/community-inclusion-coordinator-begins-work-this-summer

Also in 2022, Federation’s Board approved $25,000 in Strategic Funding for Supplementary Schools. The funding has been used to support more inclusive learning. Chabad Hebrew School (OTC) received $6,000 and has used the grant to introduce an audio-visual component to their lessons, allowing all types of learners to succeed. At Temple Israel’s supplementary school, the $4,400 received from the grant was used to purchase Wacom tablets and a smart TV, which will also help students who learn in all types of ways. Ottawa Talmud Torah (OTT) received $10,000, which will be used to create a fully-inclusive classroom. 

“It’s my hope that if we create a space where every Jew can come and learn in their own way and in their own capacity. We can really create a vibrant community where we all work together and help each other,” said Corinne Baray, with OTT. 

Learn more about the supplementary school funding: https://www.ottawajewishbulletin.com/agency-news/federation-funding-supports-neurodiverse-classrooms-at-supplementary-schools

The Jewish Ottawa Inclusion Network is currently running its annual youth leadership award challenge, which asks youth ‘What do you wish adults in your community better understood about inclusion?’ Submissions are accepted until February 28. 

Learn more here: https://www.facebook.com/JewishOttawaInlcusionNetwork/

Meanwhile, to help celebrate JDAIM, Federation, and Tamir are hosting a free inclusive community skating experience on February 12 at Brewer Arena. Register here for this all-ages and abilities event.