The Ruderman Family Foundation recently had the distinct pleasure of announcing the recipients of the 2012 Ruderman Prize in Disability.
It was a surprisingly difficult selection process for the judges. More than 170 applicants represented a wide range of deserving organizations doing extremely important work. More than once the judges returned for the original goals for the Prize: to support the pursuit of Excellence and Innovation, in services, advocacy and support of Jews with disabilities worldwide.
Today we begin a series of Zeh Lezeh blogs spotlighting each of the ten recipients in turn. By the time you read the last of these blogs you will no doubt come away with an understanding of both the judges’ great challenge in selecting the recipients, and the remarkable variety of innovative high-impact inclusion initiatives that exist around the globe.
Kadima A.C. is a nonprofit civil association in Mexico that promotes personal growth and independence for people with disabilities of all ages, creating opportunities for inclusion and community participation in a respectful and dignified environment. Fittingly, Kadima is also the Hebrew word for “forward.”
Kadima’s organization grew organically beginning in 1993 when one young man, Rafael Achar, decided the time was right to bring together a group of young people who also had disabilities—both to socialize and to connect with Mexico City’s Jewish community.
Eighteen years later Kadima has more than 2,500 members, including people with disabilities of all ages, along with their families, schoolmates, congregants and coworkers. Kadima works toward a comprehensive vision of inclusion: in Jewish education, in employment training, within families, at social events such as Jewish holiday celebrations, and more. In addition, they mount awareness campaigns that reach thousands with the message of equality and integration.
One of the Ruderman Prize judges commented that “we were particularly impressed that Kadima had tapped Jewish employers to provide employment to persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities. It is a model that we hope will inspire Jewish employers in other countries, especially the US, to recognize that the low employment rates for persons with disability is a problem that they can help solve.”
On behalf of all of us at the Ruderman Family Foundation, congratulations to Kadima for their groundbreaking work.
— Jay Ruderman