Hineinu: Inclusion and Youth Groups

For all teens, especially teens with disabilities, inclusion and acceptance into a group of their peers is important and valuable. Youth groups provide many opportunities for friendships, activities, learning, and leadership development. Unfortunately, many young people with disabilities have been left out of youth groups.

Every Jewish teen deserves the opportunity to enjoy the many benefits of a youth group and to feel valued among their peers.

• Ask young people with disabilities to participate and get involved.

• Meet with teens and parents individually to find out what specific accommodations each member or prospective member needs.

• Hold events in locations that are accessible to people with disabilities.

• Build a network for the new participant with disabilities. Ask some of the more responsible teens to show them around and make them feel included in the group when they first arrive.

• Inclusion is about attitude. Run programs on disability awareness.

• Provide disability awareness training to your youth group board and members.

• Find ways for young adults with disabilities to participate, be leaders, and find friendship within your youth group.

• Listen to adolescents themselves about their participation and needs. Make decisions with them, not for them.

• Provide individuals with disabilities with the same opportunities for growth and friendship as their typically developing peers.