This year we started a unique collaboration between a preschool classroom at BJBE's Early Childhood Program at the Chava Center and Keshet, an agency that works to integrate individuals with disabilities into their communities. One of the core beliefs of Keshet is to ensure that individuals with disabilities enjoy life along-side typically developing peers, in settings that enable their efforts and reward the community for their acceptance. This exciting partnership has enabled a young girl with Down syndrome to attend preschool, with the support of staff from Keshet, in the Jewish environment her parents chose for her.
The experiences in a Jewish preschool are a wonderful time to begin to share the Jewish rituals and create memorable experiences for young children. Making this environment accessible to all families is important. The inclusive environment created at the Chava Center gives a student with a disability the opportunity to participate in an inclusive Jewish preschool environment. Inclusive classes offer benefits to all children learning together. Children with disabilities experience positive peer modeling from their typically developing peers. Equally important, typically developing children gain an understanding and acceptance of differences among people.