Striving for Disability Inclusion Everywhere

Allison Davis1.26.18
My camp lens is always on! In every experience I have, class I take, activity I partake in (Jewish or not), I think about camp. But more specifically, I think about my job as the Inclusion Specialist in Ramah Darom’s Tikvah Support Program. I’m always thinking, how can we bring this model into camp? Or, wow that would work great for this camper! Or that’s a great way to get tzevet (staff) members more engaged in inclusion!

This past November, I had the opportunity to attend the Ruderman Family Foundation Inclusion Summit, and felt like I found the perfect place to wear my camp lens. I had conversations with other camp staff that focused on inclusion of campers with disabilities. But, I also participated in sessions on employment, healthcare, and sports, which were not directly related to what we do in our Tikvah Support Program at Ramah Darom. At each of these sessions, I was honored to represent Ramah Darom because of the innovative model of inclusion that we have taken in our Tikvah Support Program and our Camper Care Program. Just as each of these sessions focused on disability inclusion within their respective fields, at camp we strive for inclusion across the eidot (age groups), across the anafim (specialty areas), and across the Darom kehilla (community).

For example: I attended a session on Healthcare. One of the speakers was Debbie Burke, a registered nurse who oversees the Autism Care Collaborative at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). Ms. Burke explained how at MGH, hospital staff is trained on how to work with patients that have autism, and patients with autism are receiving specialized care to ensure they are provided with the support they need as they undergo medical treatment. This was all being done through a collaborative team of professionals at the hospital. My camp lens immediately took me to our marp (infirmary), where our Tikvah Support team continues to work with our nursing staff on caring for our campers that need extra support. As Debbie explained their efforts at MGH, I could not help but be reminded of our kehilla as a whole at Ramah Darom. Just as the entire staff at MGH is learning about autism and how to best care for patients with a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder, at camp we are continuing to work with our entire staff from programming to specialty staff,  and from administrative to kitchen and hospitality staff to provide the appropriate support for all our campers, regardless of disability diagnosis.

“I was honored to represent Ramah Darom because of the innovative model of inclusion that we have taken in our Tikvah Support Program and our Camper Care Program.”

The Ruderman Family Foundation Inclusion Summit helped me realize why my camp lens is on all of the time because inclusion is evident in every aspect of life. At Ramah Darom, we have built an Inclusion Program that presents itself on a continuum, and through the efforts of our Tikvah Support and Camper Care Program, we ensure that every camper is properly included in every aspect of camp. I am proud to be part of the Ramah Darom Tikvah team and I am excited to bring back all that I’ve learned to our kehilla. For me, and for Ramah Darom, inclusion is a way of living!

Click to learn more about the Tikvah Support Program.


About the Author

Allison Davis is currently a Psychology major at The George Washington University, an Inclusion Support Specialist for at Camp Ramah Darom and Lead Coordinator for Buddy Up Tennis, Inc., a national adaptive tennis, and fitness program for individuals with Down syndrome.

To contact Allison, please email communications@Ramahdarom.org subject line, Allison Davis.