SPECIAL NEEDS INCLUSION INITIATIVE
Last year we focused on removing barriers to participation in Jewish education for those with special needs by providing educational organizations with much needed sensory tools to keep their learners engaged.
The grant for à la carte sensory kits successfully reached Bay Area educational spaces, including JCC after-school programs, summer camps, congregational schools, preschools, day schools and congregations.
31 Sensory Toolkits Distributed
We also provided monthly consultations to early childhood professionals facing challenges with students in their classrooms, and a total of 20 hours of clinical student observation that informed much needed accommodations for students with special needs.
“We are so grateful for the sensory tool kit. With our learning happening outside, we’ve come to embrace distractions as opportunities. All teachers and students are thrilled to have a couple extra tricks in our back pockets.”
– Kayla Pollak, Youth & Young Adult Program Director, The Kitchen
SOCIAL, EMOTIONAL AND SPIRITUAL LEARNING
Last year, we offered ten Social, Emotional and Spiritual Learning (SESL) sessions for educators. We focused on how to respond to anxiety within ourselves and our students, in order to create more effective teaching and learning experiences. 31 individuals participated in a two-part series about the wisdom of mystical Judaism, or Hassidut, and the connection to anxiety. Participants also experimented with practices to manage anxiety in their personal and professional lives. Another group of 25 educators from 10 organizations joined us for a series to enhance their ability to implement SESL competencies and inclusion standards.
58 Educators Trained in SESL
We also partnered with Studio 70 to present at the 2021 Voices from the Field Conference, a professional learning convening for after-school educators. We offered training and resources to help educators support children through the process of grief and mourning, informed by Jewish tradition, and on youth mental health first aid.
“Thank you for a meaningful learning experience today. SESL has become a regular part of my landscape as a Jewish educator in Milwaukee. I had been searching for the opportunity to develop the vocabulary, and a better understanding of how to weave SESL into my own work.”
– Jennifer Saber, Kesher Inclusion Specialist and Teen Philanthropy Coordinator, Milwaukee Jewish Federation
ADOLESCENT MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS
Prior to the pandemic, 13% of US children had a diagnosed mental or behavioral health condition, and this number is rising. Through a combination of programming and training, last year we helped bring mental health to the forefront of communal attention.
Besides offering 16 Youth Mental Health First-Aid trainings, Jewish LearningWorks offered four sessions on adolescent development and supporting teens during the pandemic led by Dr. Betsy Stone, and trained the staff teams of Jewish Community High School of the Bay, and Camp Ramah Ojai, as well as the Stand with Us’ high school program team.
229 Individuals Certified in Youth Mental Health First-Aid
“This Youth Mental Health First Aid Training has helped to systematize and bring clarity to complex and unpredictable situations. Practicing these methods brings me confidence that I will respond with fairness and equity to the needs of teens experiencing mental health challenges. I would certainly recommend this training to individuals and teams working with teens.”
– Sean Keelan, Assistant Director of Teen Programs, Camp Tawonga