“We work to make the inclusion of children with disabilities the EXPECTATION, not the exception.”
If this sounds like Keshet to you, you would be right…well, sort of. This is actually the mission statement of the National Inclusion Project, an organization that advocates for inclusion practices for camps and other programs. It comes as no surprise that their vision aligns with everything that Keshet does and stands for, which is why we are so proud to announce that Keshet’s inclusion program at three JCC camps programs have earned the highest level of accreditation from the National Inclusion Project (NIP). NIP has designated Keshet as a longstanding leader and change maker in inclusive recreation, going above and beyond to ensure that inclusion is indeed the expectation, not the exception.
The National Inclusion Project works with a variety of organizations across the country to help create innovative, inclusive camping experiences for children with disabilities. They help provide the tools and training to be able to serve all children in their communities. In doing so, they’ve developed the Standards for Inclusive Recreation Programs that measure that programs are intentionally and successfully creating inclusive environments for people with and without disabilities. After an extensive process of site visits, documentation, and evaluation, Keshet’s camp programs at “Z” Frank Apachi, Elaine Frank Apachi and Camp Chi received the gold standard of accreditation from the NIP. This award has been a long-term goal for Keshet and we’re thrilled to be able to share this milestone with our community.
So, what does being accredited really mean? At Keshet, inclusion has always been more than a belief; it is at the core of everything we do. We are continually striving to ensure that all of Keshet’s programs, policies and practices are fully inclusive and accessible for everyone, and this began with our camp programs over thirty years ago. Keshet partners with day and overnight camp programs in the area to include campers with disabilities alongside their typically-developing peers. All campers are able to participate in camp activities, make lifelong friendships and get the most out of their summer and camp experiences. When the National Inclusion Project witnessed Keshet’s support program in action, they were able to see just how seamless this feels for our campers, staff and greater camp community. From these visits, the NIP quickly concluded we met or exceeded every single standard we were assessed on, including administration, programming, and staff training. Knowing that the work we are doing on a daily basis was so easily apparent, understood and celebrated means so much to us.
For us at Keshet, inclusive practices come naturally, but this is unfortunately not the case for everyone. This is why we feel so honored to be among a small group of programs who have become accredited by the NIP. We look forward to continuing to be the model of inclusion for camps across the country, and we know that accreditation is the next step to making that a possibility.
To be recognized as one of the leaders and models in inclusive camp practices is a tremendous honor and privilege, and we are beyond grateful for the National Inclusion Project’s partnership and belief in our mission. But the work certainly does not stop there. Keshet will continually strive to make sure not only our camps, but all of our programs remain a place where every person not only is included but wholeheartedly belongs. We will continue to dream of a world where the inclusion of people with disabilities is the top expectation in every single space and community.
To learn more about the National Inclusion Project and the incredible work they’re doing, click here.