Center for Special Needs

Opening the Doors Program Camps and Enrichment ProgramsMeet Our Staff Contact Us

The JCC's Center of Special Needs provides a variety of terrific recreational and social programs for children, teens and adults. From preschool and day camp to vocational training and family social events, we have it here!

Opening the Doors Program

opening-doorsOpening 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.

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Camps & Enrichment Programs

Summer Programs

K’TonTon
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) 
Ages 2 1/2- Grade 5

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 individuals who do not require 1:1 support and wish to participate in summer camp. SNAP combines typical camp fun with off-campus adventures. It is divided into three groups: Explorers (grades 5-8); Voyagers (grades 9-12); and Adventurers (ages 18-26). Throughout the week, campers go on field trips to destinations such as the Detroit Zoo, DIA, Zap Zone and local parks, as well as participate in on-campus activities.

Young Adults All Together 
Ages 15-26

Young Adults All Together comprises two separate age groups, 15-17 and 18-26, and offers campers the chance to enjoy summer activities while learning life skills. Two days per week are spent volunteering for various local organizations with trained staff serving as job coaches; two days are for exploring the community and enjoying camp fun; and one day is for developing “soft skills” such as budgeting, nutrition, and personal safety.

Tamarack
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)

The mission of the adult programs is to provide individuals with special needs 16 years and older the opportunity to meet with peers, socialize with one another, and above all the opportunity to be respected and valued. Events are held twice each month and include activities such as karaoke night, Drums Alive, bowling, and pizza parties.

TNSG Calendar September & October 2018

For more information about the TNSG, please e-mail Stephanie Zoltowski, Director of Special Needs, at [email protected], or Dave Sexton, Program Coordinator, at [email protected].

2018-2019 Events
  • Yoga / Meditation
  • Pots & Plants
  • Bingo
  • Bowling
  • Buddy’s Pizza
  • Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum
  • Summer BBQ / Picnic
  • 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.

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 tness level or ability. It conditions the body and builds the brain. Kids, seniors, athletes, those with special needs, and even people in wheel-chairs can enjoy this program. Come and give it a try!


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