A Month to Raise Disability Awareness

Did you know that February is Jewish Disability Awareness & Inclusion Month (JDAIM)?   Federation’s Greater MetroWest ABLE is proud to join together with Jewish communities all over the world in a united effort to raise awareness and champion the civil rights of people with disabilities. Throughout the month of February, we invite you to explore the ways in which you can get involved. Each of you is an integral member of our Jewish community. We welcome you to participate in community events across Greater MetroWest in celebration of JDAIM. We will share events on the Greater MetroWest ABLE Facebook page and on our website.    

Greater MetroWest ABLE envisions a Jewish community made whole by the inclusion of all its members, with meaningful access to every aspect of Jewish life. We are here to work with individuals, families, congregations, and community organizations as they work toward identifying ways in which to engage as an inclusive Jewish community. 

Until we accomplish this change in culture, the month of February has become the time to raise awareness. An inclusive community is a stronger community, and while this quest is universal, Jewish values and traditions provide teachable moments to advance inclusion. Together, we can foster a more inclusive Jewish community that emphasizes, first and foremost, the value, dignity, and capabilities of each and every individual. Contact Rebecca Wanatick, Manager of Community Inclusion, at metrowestABLE@jfedgmw.org or (973) 929-3129 for more information.

Upcoming Community Events:

Creating Inclusive Communities

Encourage your organization to explore their inclusive practices with ABLE’s How Inclusive Are We? Synagogue/Agency Self-Assessments. ABLE’s Self-Assessments for synagogues and agencies provide a tool to help guide your organization through the areas of the inclusion journey, ranging from attitudinal, practices, and policy changes to architectural accessibility. Greater MetroWest ABLE is here to help support each organization.  Contact Rebecca Wanatick at rwanatick@jfedgmw.org or (973) 929-3129 for more information.

Tuesday, February 6
Jewish Disability Advocacy Day (JDAD), Washington DC

As a Jewish community, we recognize that the work we do internally to make our spaces inclusive must be mirrored in our public advocacy to create a world of wholeness, justice, and compassion. JDAD is an opportunity to build that world.

Sundays, beginning February 11
Learn to Babysit for Children with Special Needs
February 11, 18, March 4, 11, 18 & 25, 3-5 p.m.
JCC of Central NJ, 1391 Martine Ave., Scotch Plains   

Teens will be trained and certified in CPR and first aid, with additional topics including: disability awareness, rights and responsibilities, child development and behavioral challenges, communicating with the child with special needs, modifying games/activities, handling emergencies, and more. A list of teens that have completed the course can then be shared with families in the community seeking childcare. For more information or to register contact Rebecca Wanatick at rwanatick@jfedgmw.org or (973) 929-3129.

Sunday, February 25
Special Needs Symposium
with keynote speaker Pamela Schuller, stand-up comedian and disabilities advocate
2-5 p.m., JCC of Central NJ, 1391 Martine Ave., Scotch Plains

After keynote address, participants can attend two workshop sessions led by various local resources in the community, including social workers, special needs attorneys, advocates, educational consultants and licensed professional counselors, cccupational therapists, and more! Come together to learn, network, and laugh! For more information contact Mallory Zipkin at mzipkin@jccnj.org or (908) 889-8800, ext. 240.

Tuesday, February 27
Aging & Disability:  The Evolution of Family Relationships Through Life Transitions

7 p.m., JCC MetroWest, 760 Northfield Ave., West Orange

Workshop topics will include: Changing roles of siblings and parents of individuals with disabilities as the entire family ages; Changing needs of siblings & parents, and what they wish they knew sooner; Partnering with support coordinators, working collaboratively with families and program professionals; Creating a meaningful life in the community – at home, synagogue, greater community; and Self-care & stress management strategies. For more information and to rsvp contact Mara Gellman at Mgellman@jfedgmw.org  or (973) 929-3096.

Tuesday, March 20
Keep the Change
, NJ Jewish Film Festival
7:30 p.m., JCC MetroWest, 760 Northfield Ave., West Orange

This romantic comedy set in New York City is the unlikely love story of two people who meet in a support group. David leads a comfortable life until he attends a support group for adults with disabilities. There, he meets Sarah, a unique optimist who teaches him to accept who he is.