Special Needs Programs

Opening the Doors Program

Camps and Enrichment Programs

Meet Our Staff Contact Us

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 Program
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.

Opening the Doors Program Brochure

Learn More 

Doors to the Future

Para educators provide one-on-one, short term, early intervention for over 30 students with learning and social differences in early childhood centers. Para educators help students strengthen their learning, communication and social skills, foster growth in behavior, increase independence, build self-confidence and enable children to be in included with their peers. Partially funded by the Jewish Women’s Foundation.

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 Zuckerman Klein Family Support Foundation Grant.

Enhanced Learning Initiative (ELI)

Opening The Doors provides Day School teachers Professional Development certificate 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.

Conferences and Movie Events

Anita Naftaly Family Circle Conference - Community-wide conference with renowned authors, who provide innovative strategies and resources raise disability awareness and to empower educators, parents and mental health professionals. Partially funded by the Anita Naftaly Family Circle Fund.

Day School Conference –Jewish Day school educators participate in educational learning together with acclaimed educators.

Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month – Renowned speakers, movies and book clubs, to raise disability awareness in collaboration with cities across the country and Israel

A Taste of ReelAbilities – International movies whose actors, directors, or producers have a disability or stories shown celebrate an individual with disabilities’ successes. Talk back discussions for educators, families and health professionals

Efshar Circle 

An Opening The Doors and Friendship Circle collaborative Sunday School providing diverse learners with multi-sensory lessons on Hebrew, holidays etc. at individual ability levels. OTD Special educators, Friendship Circle staff and one-on-one volunteers provide learning support.

OTD Ambinder-Lyness Learning Abilities Program (LAP)

LAP provides an opportunity for children and adolescents with academic and/or emotional differences that are impacting their daily functioning. LAP is designed to provide diagnostic, academic turorial and therapeutic planning services to maximize functioning. Funded by the Ambinder-Lyness Foundation

Learn More

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.

for the Harold Wade Madrichim Leadership Institute 


Camps & Enrichment Programs

Special Needs Brochure

Break Camp
When school is out, kids come in! Campers may come for a day or the entire break camp to meet up with friends from summer and enjoy camp favorites like sports, swimming, and arts and crafts.

• 9:00am – 3:30pm
• 1:3 staff-to-camper ratio
• Bring your own lunch
• AM/PM care available

2019-2020 Break Camp Dates
• December 26-27, 30-31, January 2-3
• February 17-21
• March 30 – April 3, 6-7


Break Camp Brochure

Independent Living Skills (ILS) Program

Grades 9-12, Ages 18-26, 27+
This innovative program gives teens and young adults the opportunity to learn and practice life skills in a small group setting.  In collaboration with Jewish Senior Life (JSL), participants work with job coaches, learning skills like meal preparation, doing laundry, and daily responsibilities of maintaining an apartment. 

Summer Programs

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. 

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.

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. Campers 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.

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) 

November/December 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.

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
• Water Aerobics
• Zumba
• Circuit Training
• Healthy Cooking
• Basic Nutrition

Thank you to our sponsors…


Back to top