Member Communications 2 min read

Special Connections Made In & Out of the Zoom Box

By JCC Milwaukee June 30, 2021
smiling friends on a Zoom meeting

Throughout the last year, the JCC’s Center for Inclusion & Special Needs (CISN) never stopped providing programs for the S.T.A.R.S. (Students That Are Really Special) youth program and the adult Chaverim participants. From March 2020 until May 2021, the CISN Team stayed connected to the children and adults that they serve through Beyond a Building virtual programs hosted on Zoom 2-3 times a week, including their popular partnership program with Upstream Arts.

The innovative and interactive virtual programs included art classes, movement classes, social experiences, dance parties, cooking classes, and virtual field trips to the Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee Public Museum, Schlitz Audubon Center, Bayside Garden Center, and Milwaukee County Zoo. Shared one parent, “Thanks for doing the art class. It is our favorite Zoom activity of this time. It doesn’t require kids to be focused on the screen for a long time. They can focus on the art in front of them, and you are so encouraging to each kid.”

Supplies for all Zoom programs and a popular monthly dinner were delivered to participants and their families by familiar drivers who had previously staffed in-person programs, further enhancing those personal connections. One parent noted, “When you dropped off pizza yesterday, Jeff said: ‘They care about us at JCC.’ I was moved by his observation. And agreed.”

This past May, CISN was excited to host its first in-person program with dinner at Dr. Dawg which saw over 40 families stopping by to reconnect with one another and the staff. This summer, the adult special needs program, Chaverim, is branching out from the Zoom-iverse and returning to in person programs to more effectively meet the social-emotional needs of their participants.

Thanks to a continuing grant from the ELM II Fund, the Center for Inclusion & special Needs will be able to bring S.T.A.R.S. and Chaverim together for exemplary programming in the coming year to build upon the important connections that were made online since the onset of the pandemic.

Read more Stories from the JCC 2020-21 Annual Report