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Tucson J puts the focus on Inclusion for Jewish Disabilities Awareness, Acceptance, and Inclusion Month

In honor of Jewish Disabilities Awareness, Acceptance, and Inclusion Month this February, the Tucson Jewish Community Center (JCC) will introduce the Eight Guiding Principles of Inclusion through an interactive exhibit housed throughout the J. The exhibit begins Feb. 20 and is on display through the end of the month.

Recently developed by the JCC Association of North America, with help from a task force that included the J’s President and CEO, Todd Rockoff, the principles will help JCC communities consider ways to enhance their inclusion efforts and incorporate best practices. Through a series of thought-provoking prompts, the exhibit will invite the community to share their reactions to the principles and relate their experiences 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, in which they are participating this July as part of a pilot group, the J hopes to create additional year-round social and recreational programming, as well as vocational opportunities for individuals with disabilities, and to also bolster its current Amplifying Voices and J-Pride programs.