JUNE 21, 2018, BROOKLINE – Jacob Myers loves to move, and can’t stand sitting around doing nothing. He likes all sports, but especially enjoys soccer, tennis, basketball, canoeing, and rock climbing. He’s in for a fun summer.
Myers is a volunteer intern and member of the New England chapter of Yachad, the National Jewish Council for Disabilities, which will offer a packed schedule this summer. Throughout the year, Yachad sponsors inclusive educational and social programming. As the weather gets better, the programming moves outdoors.
Already, the Outdoor Adventure Club has gone on a kayak trip and been rock climbing. For the past two Sundays, the club took part in a rowing course run by Community Rowing, a Brighton organization that promotes the sport as an educational and accessible team-building exercise. On June 10, 17 students, staff, and volunteers took to the shore of the Charles River to learn the basics of synchronized rowing. On June 17, they put their skills to use, and rowed down the river for an afternoon.
Rowing crew is just the beginning of Yachad’s summer season. On June 24, students and staff will head to Ward’s Berry Farm in Sharon to pick strawberries. Later on, there will be a cycling trip, a nature walk, and an adaptive golf trip. Throughout the year, Yachad offers at least one event per week: from art appreciation to a “matzah bowl” bowling outing to a trip to Fenway Park.
Myers is always a dedicated participant. “I get to meet people my age, get exercise, have fun, and try something new and different,” he said.
Since 2013, Yachad has received generous annual grants from the Ruderman Family Foundation, which advocates for the inclusion of all within the Jewish community. The grants have allowed Yachad to significantly expand its programming and create chapters within Jewish schools and synagogues. They’ve also helped create a Summer Youth Leadership Fellows program, an internship for four students of diverse abilities.
Yachad’s wide-ranging offerings and extended geographical reach have helped people all over Massachusetts. “We aim to promote health and wellness,” said Liz Offen, the director of New England Yachad. “We as Jews can’t allow people to stay on the margins. The number one antidote is to create a sense of meaningful community.”
Myers is all in. “Yachad has changed me and made me braver and stronger, more confident and laid back,” Myers said. “”Everyone belongs. It’s given me a chance to be part of my own group.”