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Gesher Program

Welcoming and Inclusive

The JCC provides an array of opportunities for differently abled adults to engage in enriching activities and specialized programming.

The Gesher Program is supported in part by the Herman and Rebecca Fineberg Fund for People with Special Needs with additional support from the Edna and Larry Abelson Fund for Special Needs, the Raymond and Elizabeth Bloch Educational and Charitable Foundation, the Ralph Davidson Special Needs Fund, the Zola Hirsch Fund for Special Needs and the Robert Spiegel Memorial Endowment Fund.

Gesher Inclusion Program

Research underscores the pivotal role of inclusion and community engagement in shaping the lives of individuals with different abilities. At Gesher, we’ve tailored our program to embrace these findings, building a dynamic community that provides an array of opportunities for differently abled adults to engage in enriching Jewish Community Center activities and specialized programming.

Under the guidance of our dedicated staff, members engage in purposeful activities aimed at fostering independence, facilitating social connections, and nurturing overall well-being. From honing essential life skills to fostering meaningful connections and exploring individual interests, Gesher is committed to empowering each participant to lead a healthy, engaged lifestyle while actively contributing to our community.

At Gesher, inclusivity and acceptance are not just ideals but lived realities. By providing a supportive environment within the Jewish Community Center, we serve as a catalyst for promoting inclusivity and fostering a community where every individual is valued, respected, and empowered to thrive.


Weekly activities are organized on different days of the week to encourage active member involvement and engagement. Additionally, we offer daily support for the cultivation of individual interests and the development of essential life skills.

  • Swimming
  • Fitness with certified JCC personal trainers
  • Technology
  • Art/Music
  • Athletics/Yoga/Meditation
  • Career Exploration
  • Life skills Development
  • Community Based Instruction
  • Interest Development

Essential Skill Development:

Our curriculum is customized for members needs based on the following global skill sets:

  • Social Skills: Engage in supported community outings to practice social interactions, conversation turn-taking, seeking assistance from community helpers, and gaining attention appropriately.
  • Self-Care Skills: Utilize checklists for daily self-care routines, select weather- and situation-appropriate clothing, learn to use cell phones and apps for communication and executive functioning, and independently prepare for activities such as swim lessons.
  • Daily Living Skills: Follow recipes, determine food storage, prepare meals with peers, adhere to safety protocols, and safely use cleaning products.
  • Transportation Skills: Learn street-crossing safety, respond when lost, recognize community signs, utilize public transportation, and navigate using apps.
  • Safety Skills: Respond in emergencies, manage medications, understand basic emergency procedures, differentiate interactions with strangers versus familiar adults, practice online safety, and understand personal rights regarding unwanted behavior.
  • Community Access Skills: Participate in targeted community outings, engage in appropriate social interactions, respect personal space, and navigate preferred community settings effectively.
  • Self-Advocacy Skills: Recognize when assistance is needed, make informed choices, identify sources of support, and effectively request assistance across different environments.


Our team of dedicated and compassionate professionals consists of trained experts who offer personalized support to aid participants in skill development, goal achievement, and active participation in JCC activities. Working closely with families, caregivers, and educational professionals, our staff ensures a comprehensive support system that fosters the growth and well-being of program participants. Rest assured, our program maintains a high staff-to-participant ratio to provide optimal care and attention.

Accessibility: Gesher is committed to ensuring accessibility for all participants, including those with physical disabilities, by providing necessary accommodations and support to ensure full inclusion and participation in all activities.

Program Hours:

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday 3:00-6:00pm

Friday 12-6pm (extended program hours for outings and special trips)



  • Two session options:
    • 10-month or 12-month options (fee sheet enclosed)
    • Participants can attend as little as 1 day per week or as many as 4 days per week
    • Financial aid available for those who qualify on program fee and membership fee
    • Third party and waiver funding accepted
    • JCC membership required


For more information or to schedule a visit, contact Rachael Speck, Gesher Program Coordinator at [email protected], 412-697-3537

Special Olympics provides year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities.  Those activities give these individuals continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendships.

For more information:

Special Olympics Pennsylvania FACT SHEET

The Gesher program serves differing abled young adults with intellectual disabilities.

Gesher participants engage in their favorite camp activities such as ropes course, water-tubing and horseback riding. Campers learn teamwork, independence and Jewish identity. Interaction with other campers and integration into activities with groups of all ages is a focal point of our program. For info: Aaron Cantor, 412-339-5412.
Major funding for the Gesher Program is provided by The Edith L. Trees Charitable Trust.

Contact Us

Rachael Speck


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