One of my primary responsibilities as the inclusion coordinator at URJ Camp Harlam, a Reform Jewish summer camp in Pennsylvania, is to make sure that campers with a disability (or a “different ability”) are set up for success at camp. We provide them with similar accommodations as the ones they have at home and at school, allowing them to experience camp to their personal best, in keeping with their abilities. This can often take careful planning, thoughtful conversations among partners, and communicating the right information in the right way to our counselors.
If you are anything like me, you eagerly await the summer months to finally make a sizable dent in that pile of books adorning your nightstand. My summer reading list typically includes a mix of young adult novels, professional books and a healthy handful of books for fun.
Here in the U.S., we are about to celebrate Independence Day. I’m from Philadelphia so July 4 is especially meaningful to me: After all, it was in the City of Brotherly Love that the Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4, 1776.
July is another celebration of American freedom. July 26 is the twenty-fifth anniversary of The Americans With Disabilities Act, the ADA. The ADA has been widely recognized as the Civil Rights Act for people with disabilities. It's a recognition by our nation that people with disabilities are to be treated with respect and dignity.
As a college student living with Asperger’s Syndrome, I have learned to know when I am being accepted and included. I’ve learned about my challenges and my strengths — and I speak out about what true inclusion feels like. When I am viewed as a person with unique areas of strengths in addition to unique areas of challenge instead of primarily as a person with special needs, I know that I am being fully included and accepted.