Meet April Swenson

Inclusion Coordinator & Assistant Camp Manager

April SwensonHow did the JCCSF Youth Inclusion Initiative start?
In my very first interview here, one of my questions was how could kids with disabilities participate in our camps – so it’s something we’ve been talking about for a long time. We started by looking at other camps that have an inclusion aspect, and we learned what works and what they’ve struggled with. Plus, working in schools, I’ve learned about simple accommodations that make an incredible difference in a kid’s day.

Can you tell us about your experience working with children with special needs?
I have a background in special education – a master’s degree in special education from San Francisco State University and a teaching credential in moderate to severe disabilities with a specialization in deaf blindness. I’ve worked as an ABA home therapist for kids with autism and as a paraprofessional.

What made you want to study special education?
My mom worked at a day center for adults with disabilities, and I used to tag along to her sign language classes. Then in eighth grade, I read a book about Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan. I admired Sullivan’s persistence and creativity, and her belief that everyone is capable of learning.

What are you most excited about this summer?
Making camp accessible to all families. Camp is going to be different this year – more diverse and a lot of fun!

“The Federation is proud to provide seed funding from our unrestricted endowment to launch the Youth Inclusion Initiative. The JCCSF’s efforts to reduce barriers and increase access for children with special needs and their families are helping to build the kind of community that we all strive for – one that is imbued with Jewish values and truly inclusive of all.” 
– Laura Lauder, Chair, Endowment Committee, Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund

The Youth Inclusion Initiative is generously supported by the Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund. With appreciation to the Genesis Prize Foundation and the generosity of the 2016 Laureate, Itzhak Perlman.

the National Inclusion Project

The Jewish Community Center of San Francisco is a proud partner of the National Inclusion Project.