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Teenage Rebellion

Toby Klein

by Toby Klein for JUF News

"So who exactly is going to take you seriously," a neighbor laughs. "Don't underestimate us," I warned. "You'll soon see we're more than Jewish summer camp rejects..." Read More »

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Bar/Bat Mitzvah Stories

Molly Cutler

Molly Cutler Photo

Molly is an able-bodied young woman. Make that very able-bodied -- she was a state-champion gymnast… in two different states! She practices more than 20 hours every week, 50 weeks every year.

But, thanks to a suggestion from a family friend, she spent a week volunteering at a camp for 25 kids who have problems using their bodies. Many of them are in wheelchairs.

At CAMP Schwab, though, they could use their bodies way more than they usually got to! That’s because this camp and its volunteers help them go swimming and kayaking, play basketball and softball … even go rock-climbing! The letters in the camp’s name stand for “Children with Adapted Mobility Play,” and the other word in the name means it is part of the Schwab Rehabilitation Hospital program for children with disabilities.

Before she started volunteering, Molly had broken a toe in gym practice. But she was so eager to volunteer, she showed up in her cast! And she is excited to go back to the camp this year.

But then she heard it might not even happen, as one of the groups giving them money stopped! Oh, no! So she decided to make fund raising for CAMP Schwab her mitzvah project.

To do this, Molly tapped into one of her other talents -- baking! She baked up a storm, and sold her homemade chocolate chip cookies to friends and family. She was hoping to raise $800, enough to send one kid to the camp. But she raised more than $3,000, enough for four kids! She presented the check to Lisa Thornton, MD, medical director for pediatric and adolescent rehabilitation at Schwab… along with a box of cookies!

Molly goes to the Francis Parker School and had her bat mitzvah at Chicago Sinai Congregation. In her bat mitzvah speech, she talked about how we take things we have for granted, from homes to parents. Not everyone does have these things, she pointed out. Then she said:

“I also think that none of us truly appreciate our able bodies… Even as a gymnast, I didn’t realize how important my body was until I started my mitzvah project…  Although I was supposed to be there to help the campers, I gained more from the experience than I gave. The campers taught me many things; I realized that having physical differences doesn’t mean being unable to be athletic, it just sometimes requires some adapting. I also discovered that playing wheelchair basketball is really hard!”

We think Molly matches her super-able body with a great big heart!

JUF supports Keshet, which provides camp experiences for special-needs kids. Learn more at www.keshet.org.