Peer Development Initiative: Ambassadors for Inclusion

Ambassadors for InclusionAmbassadors for Inclusion (AFI) is a program for students in kindergarten through grade 12 that educates children about special needs and difference. AFI provides students in Jewish educational settings, including day schools and congregational schools, with the tools, information and resources they need to foster and thrive in an inclusive Jewish community.

The program is designed to provide ongoing education that spans the entirety of students’ pre-elementary through high school careers, in order to promote tolerance and a deep understanding of differences and of the ties between inclusiveness and Jewish values. Gateways has designed and implements several age-specific programs that are developmentally appropriate for students at different grade levels. The content of these programs becomes increasingly nuanced as children age. Each of the participating elementary schools will have a minimum of 7 programs a year. At the middle and high schools there will be an annual all school assembly. Please visit the respective pages to learn more about our programs for students in kindergarten through grade 2, grades 3–5, grades 6 –8, and grades 9–12.

AFI was developed in partnership with and is generously funded by the Ruderman Family Foundation.

Sharon Shapiro, Trustee and Community Liasion, Ruderman Family Foundation

"The partnership between the Ruderman Family Foundation, Gateways and UOD has given the day school students, teachers and parents the opportunity to learn about what it means to have various disabilities and feel more comfortable with inclusion.  The Ambassadors for Inclusion initiative combines expertise of a secular and a Jewish organization, and is taking the mission of the Ruderman Family Foundation, to create a more inclusive society, and spreading it to the Jewish educational community on a local and national level."

Child in Library

Kindergarten to Grade 2

Gateways works with students in kindergarten through grade 2 in Jewish educational settings. The curriculum centers on teaching children to recognize the differences between people in more general terms, particularly in regard to personal interests and preferences, eye color, height and other physical features. Programs activities include stories, art projects, hand-on activities, and speakers who help children frame their thinking.Learn more »

Learning Disabilities Unit

Grades 3 to 5

Gateways has partnered with Understanding Our Differences (UOD) to implement its grade 3–5 curriculum in Jewish day schools and congregational schools. The program focuses on nine different disabilities, each a separate unit for exploration and discussion. For each of these topic areas, students engage in a Jewish text study, hear a presentation and meet a guest speaker with the specific disability being discussed, and participate in hands-on activities.Learn more »

Middle School

For students in grades 6 –8, Gateways utilizes a panel discussion model that engages the full middle school student body. Panelists are individuals with various disabilities who speak of their experiences. Themes include, but are not limited to, "bullies and allies," "being Jewish with a disability," and "technology and disability."Learn more »

High School »

AFI programs for students in grades 9 – 12 are developed in concert with teens and teachers, and the curriculum focuses on higher-level understanding of difference, disability and society. Topics may include disability and law and understanding the connections between inclusiveness and Jewish values. Students may explore texts or Gateways may bring engaging speakers and theater groups to school sites to spur authentic discussion around the topic of difference and inclusion. »»»

In partnership with Ruderman Family Foundation 

This program is made possible by a grant
from the Ruderman Family Foundation.