Center for Special Needs

Opening the Doors ProgramCamps and Enrichment Programs

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The JCC’s Center for Special Education is an umbrella of special needs services engaging 1,200 children, teens and adults of all abilities through: inclusive Jewish classroom experiences, professional development, teen leadership, disability awareness conferences, movie, book and family social events, inclusive camp experiences, vocational training and adult social groups.

Opening the Doors Programopening-doors

Opening the Doors, a nationally recognized program, enables 1,100 children with diverse learning differences and unique abilities to participate in a quality, meaningful and inclusive Jewish education. By convening collaborations and working in partnership with schools, educational and mental health organizations, Opening the Doors provides innovative educational and community services which educate, empower, inspire, include and create unimaginable moments for families making dreams of a Jewish education come true, they may not have thought possible. OTD is immeasurably vital to the students with special needs, their families, schools, its leaders and the Jewish community. “No matter what our personal challenges are, we all need to learn. I feel that everyone should have the same opportunity to learn and develop their own spiritual belief as I did, starting as early as possible.” — Max Granitz, college student Together, Opening the Doors increases inclusion and engagement by providing meaningful and rewarding Jewish education for all learners. Together we build community by empowering teachers, teens and families. Together we convene collaborations by working together to providing relevant and supportive services and resources.

Doors to the Future

Para educators provide one-on-one, short term intervention for over 26 students with learning differences in early childhood centers: Partially funded by the Jewish Women’s Foundation.

Efshar Circle

An Opening The Doors and Friendship Circle collaborative Sunday School providing diverse learners with multi-sensory lessons at individual levels with one-on-one volunteers

Conferences and Seminars

Anita Naftaly Family Circle Conference, Day School Conference and Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month community-wide events with renowned authors, book and movie events that provide resources for parents, teachers and mental health professionals. Partially funded by the Anita Naftaly Family Circle Fund.

School Inclusion Program

Opening The Doors provides students with an array of learning differences, full-time classroom assistants and additional consultant services for an inclusive and engaging Jewish day school education with their same-aged peers. Partially funded by the Farber Family Foundation and the Jewish Fund Teen Board.

Enhanced Learning Initiative (ELI)

Opening The Doors provides Day School teachers Professional Development certicate program, part time para educators, speech and language consultation and psych-educational testing to enhance the success of all learners. Partially funded by the Jewish Fund.

Harold Wade Mardrichim Leadership Institute

An interactive teen training program that empowers congregational school teens with leadership skills and strategies to assist students with learning differences: Funded by Harold Wade.

Join us and make a difference–Looking for Teens in 8th-12th grade.
The Madrichim Leadership Institute is an interactive leadership program that empowers teens with life-long leadership skills and tools to assist students with learning differences.

Register for the Harold Wade Madrichim Leadership Institute


Camps & Enrichment Programs

Special Needs Brochure

Break Camp

Dates coming soon!

Break Camp Brochure

Summer Programs

Summer Camp 2019

Ages 2 1/2 - 4

With two, three, and five-day options, campers in K’TonTon may participate in swimming, bunk activities and in one field trip per session with the staff of the Sarah and Irving Pitt Child Development Center.

Kids All Together (KAT) 
Grades K-9

KAT gives children with special needs the opportunity to participate in typical activities at summer camp. With support from an inclusion counselor, every child has the chance to swim, enjoy arts and crafts, and play sports alongside typically developing peers. The KAT program, which has been recognized by the Autism Society of America-Oakland County as a model for inclusion, began with two campers and now regularly includes more than 30.

Space is limited for this program.

Special Needs Adventure Program (SNAP)
Grades 5-12 & Ages 18-26

SNAP is for kids and young adults who do not require one-on-one support; SNAP combines typical camp fun with off-campus adventures.  Campers in this program are encouraged to explore new places and socialize with their peers in a safe environment.

2019 SNAP Schedule

Young Adults All Together (YAAT) 
Ages 15-26

The YAAT program provides young adults with the chance to participate in summer activities and explore their community while learning life skills. Participants volunteer at local organizations with trained staff who serve as job coaches as they develop “soft skills” like communication, teamwork and leadership. They also take part in several community-based instruction (CBI) activities throughout the session to learn and develop essential life and vocational skills.

2019 YA Schedule

Grades 2-7 & Ages 10-26

With both an inclusion (Yachad) and job coaching program (Avodah), campers at Tamarack can spend mini or full sessions overnight at Camp Tamarack in Ortonville, MI. Campers in Yachad are integrated into villages with same-aged peers and participate in bunk and village activities. Those in the Avodah program receive instruction in job and life skills and have the opportunity to participate in specialty areas with the support of a job coach.

Year-Round Programs

Preschool Inclusion

To support the JCC’s mission of inclusion, the Sarah and Irving Pitt Child Development Center seeks to accommodate preschool age children with special needs. A set number of openings exist for children who would benefit by being accompanied by a dedicated inclusion advocate so that they may participate in our preschool program.

Thursday Night Social Group (TNSG) 

May/June 2019 Events Calendar

The Thursday Night Social Group (TNSG) is a social and recreational program for individuals 16 and older with special needs. Events are held twice each month at the Jewish Community Center as well as some off-site events within close proximity to the JCC. Participants at these events enjoy socializing with their peers, take part in games, arts and crafts, and exercise events, each event averaging approximately 25-30 participants.

2019 Events

  • Pots & Plants
  • Bowling
  • Bingo
  • Bowling
  • Karaoke
  • Summer BBQ/Picnic
  • Pool Party
  • Karaoke
  • Drums Alive
Break Camps

The Special Needs Department holds break camps throughout the year (Winter, Mid-Winter, Spring)

When school is out, kids come in!

Campers may come for a day or the entire week to meet up with friends from summer and enjoy camp favorites like sports, swimming, and arts and crafts.

  • 9 a.m. – 3:30 p.m
  • 1:3 staff-to-camper ratio
  • Bring your own lunch
  • AM/PM care not available

Focus on Health

We are dedicated to promoting a healthy lifestyle for all of our campers. During weekly exercise classes, a heavy emphasis is placed on nutrition, healthy cooking, and good mental health in addition to physical health.

Special Needs Swim Classes At the J

AQUA Club and JCC’s Department of Special Needs take pride in offering swim lessons to families with children with special needs. Our unique partnership will teach aspiring young swimmers the fundamentals of water safety and help them make real progress towards their individualized aquatics goals.
Learn More

Summer Health Classes
  • Drums Alive
  • Yoga/Meditation Fuse Force
  • Aquaerobics Healthy Cooking
  • Basic Nutrition

Drums Alive is a fun, research-based drumming and movement phenomenon that anyone can do regardless of fitness level or ability. It conditions the body and builds the brain. Kids, seniors, athletes, those with special needs, and even people in wheelchairs can enjoy this program. Come and give it a try!

Thank you to our sponsors…


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