Tips for an Inclusive Bake

Ten Tips to Make Inclusive Activities Successful

February is Jewish Disability Awareness & Inclusion Month. Today’s guest post is by Dr. Beth Rosenwasser, Director of Community Engagement for the Judith Creed Horizons For Achieving Independence (JCHAI). To download this resource as a PDF, click here.      

  1.  Plan ahead. Know something about the INTERESTS & SUPPORT NEEDS of all attending.
  2. LEADING with the ACTIVITY that everyone can participate in, side-by-side, creates community and a level playing field. Braid or cook together first. If you have a meal first, people tend to talk to people they know.
  3. Have a poster with simple outline of activities in order with pictures. Post in a prominent place (e.g., take off outerwear, pull hair back, jewelry off, wash hands, go-around and say your name, somewhere you volunteer, and your favorite dessert, get a ball of dough and divide into 3 equal pieces, etc.)
  4. Consider making a “Social Story” or booklet of the poster in #3. This can be shared with participants ahead of time.
  5. In general, when working with people having developmental disabilities:
    • Chunk instructions
    • Use concrete terms (less conceptual – this takes some practice – e.g., “people who don’t have enough food or enough healthy foods to eat” versus “food insecurity” or “world hunger”  – you might go on to have people list the healthy foods they eat so they can relate to the idea “healthy food”)
    • Give people a moment to think before answering (processing speed of language may take 30 seconds longer) – ask a question and they say – let’s take a few moments to think about a time you volunteered, wait 30 seconds, and then ask who might have something to say… even better,
    • USE GO-AROUNDS. This way everyone shares. There is a principle that if you have everyone share early in a program, then more people are likely to be active participants as you progress
  6. When making challahs, balance getting/giving help versus making/allowing mistakes. Cultivate patience.
  7. Show and guide, rather than using all talk to demonstrate. Don’t assume automatic understanding. Watch for understanding and repeat or show if needed.
  8. When demonstrating, be sure you are oriented the same direction (not across from them so they have to imaging it backward).
  9. ADAPT braiding or other activities for success. Examples: Use tins to hold and bake the braided challahs so they all come out the same shape. Make a monkey bread challah where you make balls of challah and roll in spice and throw into a tin. Make 2 strand twists. Braid from one direction, not both. Roll strands in spice rather than put spice inside. Squeeze dough to make strands – for some people, rolling a strand is not possible.
  10. Don’t sideline a person with a disability if they are tangential or awkward. Reciprocity is a social skill. Advocate for “neurotypical” people to learn reciprocity too to go the extra yard to be inclusive. Everyone matters in a community.