In a world that accepts the familiar and the ordinary, people with disabilities are often viewed as flawed or less worthy. This reality, combined with a fear of difference and bias toward diversity, creates a situation where people with disabilities are never given the chance to participate in mainstream society and create strong friendships within that society.

Here at Yachad New England, we work tirelessly to combat the social isolation that traps people with disabilities and prevents them from thriving socially, academically and professionally. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have unsurprisingly discovered that social isolation has become an even more prominent issue for people with disabilities. As a result of the need to quarantine, many people with disabilities have found themselves with very limited ways to connect with the world and participate in the activities they love.

In order to ensure that our members are not left without social connections, Yachad has instituted a new, safe, socially-distant summer initiative called Backyard Buddies. In Backyard Buddies, Yachad members and community advisors connect through weekly in-person meetings where they have fun playing games, chatting, crafting and laughing together! This in-person program has been extremely beneficial for both our members and for the community advisors, allowing them to develop old and new social connections and helping them feel less alone. Backyard Buddies has provided our members with an invaluable opportunity to be social while adhering to all COVID-19 safety guidelines.

Backyard Buddies could not have taken place without the generous support of the Nancy Lurie Marks Family Foundation, CJP and the Orthodox Union.

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