“Happiness and Meaning Through Inclusion” – The Australian Jewish News
Donna Cohen has been named the first Jewish Children’s Aid Society (JCAS) Ambassador.
Donna was involved in a serious car accident aged 18 and was chosen as the charity’s first ambassador, to support the inclusion of children with special needs in Melbourne and to take part in its campaign aimed at supporting 252 students in 11 Jewish countries. day schools.
In 1990, Donna, now 50, was knocked down by a probationary driver after returning to her sister’s house in Toorak after an outing with her niece. She defied her doctors’ prediction that, at best, she would live in a vegetative state. With the help of family, friends, a team of caregivers and years of rehabilitation, she learned to walk, talk and live a meaningful life again.
JCAS President Trevor Cohen said Donna’s appointment as the first JCAS Ambassador was “appropriate” given the “strength, resilience and determination” she has shown in meeting her challenges. physical and mental.
“The goal of our organization is to foster an inclusive and accessible environment in our schools and Donna symbolizes those goals,” he said.
His appointment comes after more than 20 years of service as a volunteer at the Posh Opp Shoppe, which is one of JCAS’ main fundraising avenues.
JCAS Board Member Melody Curtis explained that the Posh Opp Shoppes encompasses the charity’s main tenets of sustainability and inclusion as all funds raised go towards participating disabled children. to traditional Jewish education.
Donna is also a regular on the speaking circuit, sharing her cautionary tale with high school students as they embark on the journey to become trainee drivers.
“JCAS touches almost every classroom in every Jewish school…in doing so, it educates everyone in the classroom about the importance of acceptance and inclusion for all children,” Donna said. .
She added: “I hope that by giving an idea of what it is like to have my challenges and how I have achieved real strength, happiness and meaning in finding my place in society, the people may want to help others find their strength, happiness, and meaning through the inclusion and acceptance of children with additional needs.
JCAS Integration Coordinator Sharon Goodhardt told AJN: “Thanks to the dedication and commitment of teachers and assistants, more than 250 children with various disabilities and disadvantages have been able to benefit from the mainstream Jewish school education in Melbourne.
“School plays, Purim celebrations, guest speakers, sports carnivals, and everyday life have been made accessible to all through the continued funding of support assistants by JCAS.”
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