Special Needs

Special needs senior playing with a dog.

Keeping Inclusion at the Center

The Bender JCC was founded on the belief that communities benefit when all people of all ability levels learn, grow, and celebrate together.

Inclusion of those with disabilities has always been at the forefront of our mission, and has made us an area leader in comprehensive special needs inclusion, from our programming to our facilities.

Explore the many ways we Keep Inclusion at the Center for adults with special needs:

Fitness Discount

Adult residents of area group homes can benefit from a discounted fitness membership to enjoy the Bender JCC’s Weinberg Health & Fitness Center. Membership includes admission for aides accompanying adults with special needs.

Isadore & Bertha Gudelsky Exceptional Swim Program

Created for children, teens and adults with orthopedic-related disabilities, this swim program partners professional staff members (a coordinator, physical therapist, and adaptive water instructors) and volunteers with participants to teach the basics of swimming and help students feel comfortable in the water. For more information contact Elon Walter at 443-286-9364 or situbuw@aol.com.

Classes: Swimming, Cooking & More

Adults with a range of special needs have fun, learn, and make new friends through a variety of classes at the Bender JCC that enlighten, educate, and boost self-esteem. Offerings include swimming, cooking, and summer camp programs (for those aged 18-21).

For more information on any of these programs please contact the Camp JCC office at campjcc@benderjccgw.org.

This class introduces students aged 18 and up to basic swimming techniques and stroke work. Participants should already be comfortable in the water

Participants aged 18 and up are introduced to the basics of swimming in a class that’s as much about learning as it is fun. Participants should already be comfortable in the water.

Designed for those aged 18 and up, this popular class teaches participants how to prepare a variety of easy, delicious meals. Curriculum spans health and nutrition, and a different meal is prepared each week that students can easily replicate at home on their own.

Social Groups

Make new friends and enrich Jewish identity with a social group created for adults aged 18 and up that may have learning, intellectual, and other developmental disabilities but are able to function independently.

Meeting twice a month (Sundays with a Saturday night option) with a skilled staff leader, the group provides a comfortable, informal setting for participants to enjoy a variety of activities at the Center or in the community, boosting self-esteem, confidence, and independence.

For questions about registration, please contact Katie Berman at 301-348-3735 or kberman@jccgw.org.
For questions about the program, please contact Marcy Bennett at 240-283-6031 or mbennett@jfgh.org.

Created for adults aged 18 and up with learning, intellectual, and other developmental disabilities, the Hevra social group meets two Sundays a month (with a Saturday night option) for fun, engaging outings.

With the help of a skilled group leader, participants plan trips and itineraries while they work on social skills, boost self-confidence, and much more. Past trips include lunch downtown, a basketball game at Verizon Center, and lively musicals.

For questions about registration, please contact Katie Berman at 301-348-3735 or kberman@jccgw.org.
For questions about the program, please contact Marcy Bennett at 240-283-6031 or mbennett@jfgh.org.

Everyday Accommodations

In addition to the programs above, the Center provides everyday accommodations to ensure those with special needs feel comfortable, included, happy, involved—and remain safe—at all times. These daily accommodations include:

  • Sign language and oral interpreters
  • Infrared listening system in the Kreeger Auditorium
  • Wheelchair accessibility throughout Center facilities
  • Temporary wheelchairs for ease of movement throughout Center facilities
  • Flashing light alarm system


Volunteers are an essential part of our continuing efforts to integrate children, youth, teens, and adults with special needs throughout Bender JCC programming. Opportunities abound for those who would like to volunteer with those with special needs. For more information, contact Melanie and Herb Dubin at 301-622-1780 or Dubinm5@verizon.net.

There’s something about this place...where lifelong friendships begin. Your gift today will enrich lives and sustain a warm and welcoming center for Jewish life in our community. Donate at benderjccgw.org/donate.