We are thrilled to announce we are progressing our inclusion efforts to the next level in terms of serving and caring for all children and young adults at camp through inclusive, innovative programming and support.
For the past three years we have been collaborating with, and receiving inclusion consultation services from, Connection Counseling & Consultation Inc. (CC&C). CC&C is a local agency that provides a variety of services to children and adults who might be categorized as neurodiverse. They provide outpatient counseling (in person and virtual), Community Inclusion Coaching (CIC) which is 1:1 support to youth in schools, sports, home or anywhere they need extra support to be successful, family therapy, school-based therapy, training and onsite/embedded consultation for local organizations.
CC&C President, April Artz, MS, LPC, NCC has a long history of being an advocate for neurodiverse individuals and all children with different needs and abilities. She has been working in this field for over 20 years in the Pittsburgh area as a counselor, trainer, and advocate. April and her team will now expand their consultation services and partner more closely with J&R Day Camp and South Hills Day Camp to create a more inclusive environment at camp and support for all campers. CC&C staff will be onsite providing support every day at both programs all summer.
The goal of CC&C is to be respectful and supportive of people who are neurodiverse, and to meet each person’s needs with an individualized and relevant approach. All staff connected to CC&C are trained in and knowledgeable about Positive Behavior Support (PBS) which is an evidenced based methodology.
This partnership will allow us to expand our inclusion efforts by creating accommodations and interventions for individual camper needs, working more closely with each family to ensure their child has a successful camp experience, as well as enhancing training to assist our staff in mastering PBS approaches.
CC&C started out working in consultation with J&R Day Camp, South Hills Day Camp and Emma Kaufmann Camp to create a more inclusive environment at JCC Camps. This collaboration evolved into onsite direct support from a small cohort of 3 CC&C consultants at our “All Day at the J” virtual learning program last school year. Because that program was a huge, unexpected transition for so many students, especially the children served in that program, we had CC&C consultants onsite where they directly modeled Positive Behavior Support (PBS) interventions for our staff and provided social, emotional support to children via one on one as needed. This resulted in a much more cohesive program and decreased distracting or unsafe behaviors. As a result, we were able to ensure children’s mental and emotional needs were being met as well as their virtual learning requirements throughout all the uncertainty of the pandemic.
Currently, our Clubhouse Afterschool Program has benefitted from having two CC&C consultants onsite daily to provide modeling of PBS interventions to support staff in feeling more adept when it comes to meeting the group and individual needs of children at Clubhouse.
We are excited to partner with CC&C to implement an expanded vision of inclusion related to invisible disabilities and strengthen our ability to better serve all of our campers and families.