JCC Programs Special Needs

Boca Raton’s Levis JCC Helps Locals With Disabilities, Mental Health Challenges

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Carli Shapiro, age 9, enjoys Camp Kavod, a year-round camp program for children and teens with special needs. (Courtesy: Levis JCC).

BY: STAFF REPORT | BocaNewsNow.com

BOCA RATON, FL (BocaNewsNow.com) (Source: Verbatim JCC Advisory) (Copyright © 2021 MetroDesk Media, LLC) — February is Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance, and Inclusion Month, a worldwide unified effort among Jewish organizations to raise awareness and foster acceptance and inclusion of people with disabilities and mental health conditions, and those who love them.

It is a perfect time to spotlight the Adolph & Rose Levis Jewish Community Center’s (Levis JCC) Helene & Roy Schwedelson Special Needs Department. The Levis JCC has proudly served the greater Boca Raton community with a wide variety of programming for more than thirty years, welcoming people from all faiths and backgrounds to enjoy its programs and services.

The Schwedelson Special Needs Department presents a variety of programs specially designed to enhance the lives of children, teens and adults with disabilities. There is also a financial assistance and scholarship program available for select programs for those who qualify. Programs run throughout the year at the Levis JCC in Boca Raton, and at times in other locations in our area. Volunteer opportunities as well as resource and referral services are also available.

“We take enormous pride in being able to present the highest quality in programming and services for individuals who have special needs,” said Randy Colman, Executive Director of the Levis JCC. “The Schwedelson Special Needs department is well-established. We’re here for our community – we’re right here in your backyard — and through the generosity of donors, corporate partners, and community partners, we are excited that our Schwedelson Special Needs Department continues to grow, adding new and innovative programs.”

Seth Ertag, 48, and Melanie Stoll, 41, participants in the Schwedelson Sunday Social Scene program, display their caricature portraits, which were created at one of the program’s recent events. (Courtesy: Levis JCC).

During the past year, the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic were especially challenging for families who have children with special needs, who may not necessarily adapt well — or at all — to virtual learning, and who miss out on therapies and other activities because they are unable to wear masks for long periods of time. The Levis JCC made sure that, whenever possible, in-person programs were available, including Camp Kavod Summer Camp (in partnership with We Rock the Spectrum), an After School Program, and the Schwedelson Sunday Social Scene programs, which ensure socializing and interaction for adults of all ages who have special needs.

“It’s never been clearer to me how crucial our programs are to our participants than during this time of isolation due to Covid,” said Ali Landman, Director of the Schwedelson Special Needs Department. “We knew we needed to find a way to present as many of our programs in-person as possible and I am grateful for the support of the Levis JCC leadership and our amazing community partners who helped make that possible.”

The department’s programs include the following (learn more online here or by viewing a video here.

·         Marleen Forkas Camp Kavod -Year Round

A program for campers ages 3-22, featuring typical camp activities on campus and in community settings, with a focus on having fun while acquiring vital life skills. Includes 8-week summer program, 2 winter and 2 spring camps.

·         Fit & Fun Sports

Sports and fitness program in which skilled coaches and high school volunteers assist participants ages 3-22 in achieving success.

·         Paul Markhoff Otzar Sunday School

A Judaic educational program for students grades K-12 that fosters enriched participation in Jewish life.

·         Saturday Play at the J

Children ages 3+ participate in a well-supervised, structured, on-campus, camp-like program while parents can relax, run errands or spend time with friends and family.

·         After School Yoga Program

A therapeutic yoga class open to teens and adults of all ages who are able to participate independently.

·         Schwedelson Young Adult Social Scene (ages 18-29) and Schwedelson Sunday Social Scene (ages 30-50’s)

A variety of weekly activities for adults functioning at a high level of independence; opportunities to meet new friends, enhance social relationships and cultivate vital life skills.

·         SAVVY

An innovative self-defense, safety and self-awareness class for teenage girls and adult women ages 16+.

·         Move & Mingle Year-Round Adult Fitness Program

Levis JCC personal trainers teach participants ages 16+ about fitness equipment and workouts.

·         Parent’s Night Out

A structured social and recreational program for children ages 4 through middle school; offered one Saturday evening each month.

·         Year-round Parent & Caregiver Support Group and Sibling Support Group

In collaboration with Ruth & Norman Rales Jewish Family Services, The Adolph & Rose Levis Jewish Community Center promotes and enhances Jewish culture, heritage and values through educational, spiritual, social, wellness and recreational programs for individuals of all ages.  With a preschool, summer camp, family activities, athletics, cultural arts, adult enrichment and special needs programming, as well as a Resale Boutique for bargain hunters, the Levis JCC offers something for everyone. 

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