February is Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Awareness Month (JDAIM). Throughout the month, programs and professional development activities that highlight the diversity and strength of our Jewish community have taken place across the Lower Mainland, including the second annual un-juried art show, “Community Longing and Belonging,” which opened at the Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver on February 25, 2020.
Jewish Federation has a long history, through the Federation Annual Campaign, of supporting organizations and initiatives that promote inclusion, from providing special education grants to supporting the JCC’s Inclusion Services. As part of our 2020 Strategic Priorities, we committed to providing more flexible funding options to support grassroots initiatives, and the Inspiring Inclusion micro grant program was born.
The purpose of these micro grants is to inspire greater access and facilitate participation in Jewish community life for children, youth and young adults with special needs who face barriers due to their physical, emotional or developmental challenges. This year’s recipients were announced by Tammy Kalla, a member of Jewish Federation’s Planning Council who is spearheading the Inspiring Inclusion grant program, at the opening night of the “Community Longing and Belonging” exhibit. This year’s recipients are:
- Jewish Community Centre - Theatre Lab
The new JCC Theatre Lab will enable individuals of various abilities to co-create a special theatre production and, in the process, develop their self-awareness and self-advocacy skills.
- Vancouver Hebrew Academy - Sensory-Free Classroom
The creation of a sensory-free classroom will provide a safe, comfortable space for children for whom visual and auditory stimuli are overwhelming.
- Vancouver Talmud Torah - New Professional Development
This new professional development opportunity for VTT faculty and staff will enhance their skills to support students with diverse learning needs.
- White Rock/South Surrey Jewish Community Centre - Hebrew School Support
This support will provide learning tools and additional teaching assistance for students with a variety of developmental challenges.
“When Jewish Federation launched the Inspiring Inclusion grant program in 2018, our goals were to create more opportunities for community agencies to welcome and engage children and youth in a wide range of programs and services. We also wanted to help build a climate of inclusion across the community,” said Shelley Rivkin, Jewish Federation’s vice president of planning, allocations and community affairs. “The result of this grant round shows that community agencies are actively looking for ways to be accessible and inclusive for hundreds of young people and their families. We’re proud to support their work.”
The one-time micro grants, which range from $1,500 to $3,000, are available to Jewish Federation’s community partners and partner agencies, and are designed to allow organizations to pilot a new idea, program and event, or to adapt an existing initiative. A wide range of activities are eligible, from recreational, cultural, spiritual events, to educational programs that support the transition of teens into young adulthood. Read more about the grant and eligibility criteria here.