Diving Into Possibility
Facilitators and Inclusion program make new experiences possible for people of all abilities
The MJCCA represents what diversity and inclusion are all about.Jean Drezek
Diving in headfirst to an undertaking can be tough for anyone, but the inclusion program at the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta enabled Grant Drezek, who is deaf, to make a smooth and graceful entry.
Grant, 14, loves swimming, but the cochlear implant processors he wears to hear cannot get wet. “We struggled to find an environment where accommodations could be made for him at a pool,” admits Jean Drezek, Grant’s mom. He was unable to hear instructions during camp swim time, or the starting horn at swim events. “We learned about the MJCCA Day Camps inclusion program through a camp fair, and I was encouraged the MJCCA could help us.”
After a successful one-week test in 2013, Grant attended MJCCA Day Camps for the entire next summer. “Grant loved being with other kids, but enjoyed going to the pool the most,” Jean explains. “A facilitator met him each day at swim to secure his processors and visually notify him when it was time to get out. The staff took the time to get to know Grant personally, and they worked out a system to best support his needs.” The experience ignited Grant’s confidence, and the following summer he told his pool facilitator not to come.
Grant also joined the MJCCA’s swim team, the Zaban Sharks. While he could not hear the crowd, he was able to see cheering and clapping when he finished a race and relished the high-fives from his teammates. This experience sparked Grant’s self-assurance and gave him a sense of fulfillment. “Participating in swim team was a game-changer for Grant,” Jean shares. “The confidence that the MJCCA programs have given Grant is invaluable. His years swimming helped him realize he can do whatever he sets his mind to. Having the team experience also helped him to make new friends at school, and be more social with his peers.”
“The MJCCA represents what diversity and inclusion are all about,” Jean declares. “We are not Jewish, but have always felt welcome here. The JCC sets a high standard as a place where people of all abilities and religions are accepted and included. We are so thankful.”
95% of parents said their child learned about good sportsmanship through swim team.