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Jewish Community Center of St. Paul

Jewish Community Center of St. Paul logo2014 Ruderman Prize in Inclusion Winner

Name: Jewish Community Center of the Greater St. Paul Area
Location: St. Paul, Minnesota

Program Description: The goal of the St. Paul JCC’s Inclusion and Accessibility Services Program (IAS) is to provide children, teens and adults with physical, cognitive and developmental disabilities the opportunity to be welcomed and fully participate in any and all programs offered by the JCC.  Staff work with participants who need extra support and accommodations in numerous programs including:  theater, swimming lessons, personal training, fitness programs, adult and youth programs.  They have been dedicated to inclusive programming for the last thirty years.

At any given time, the JCC employs up to fifteen Inclusion Facilitators, who are trained to work with participants needing support or accommodations in any of our programs. These staff work to ensure that every individual is welcomed and seamlessly integrated into the life of our community center. In addition to using Inclusion Facilitators to ensure that individuals can participate fully in any activity they choose, they offer a number of programs specifically tailored to the needs of persons with disabilities.

“Where many other organizations seem to put up with our daughter merely as a challenge or an obligation, the JCC welcomes her as a beautiful and adored child. No matter the activity – from day care to day camp to school age vacation programming – they have always found a way for her to participate to the fullest. To her, the JCC is like a second home.” – Mother of child with a disability


Making Elijah's Cup at the Jewish Community Center of St. Paul

Scott focuses his creative energy while designing an Elijah’s Cup for Passover during a mixed-media workshop for artists with disabilities created and led by JCC member and art educator Robin Getsug. (credit: St. Paul JCC)

Michael Waldman “For almost 30 years the St. Paul JCC has been fully committed to inclusion programming. We work hard to ensure that every single person who walks into our center feels at home, so I really I couldn’t be more proud to be recognized specifically for our inclusion work. We don’t think or talk in terms of abilities and disabilities; instead we recognize that every individual has unique abilities and needs, and we embrace that diversity in our programming. We want to thank the Ruderman Family Foundation for their incredible generosity, which will allow us to welcome and embrace every person as a wonderful, exceptional, unique individual.” – Michael Waldman, Executive Director