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MJCCA Reaches Out to Young Athletes with Diverse Needs

Lori and Kevin Rubin’s son, Beck is 12 years old and has been diagnosed with mood dysregulation disorder and significant ADHD, making it difficult to self-soothe or calm himself.  Several months ago, Lori received a call from Atlanta JCC Maccabi Games Inclusion co-chair Tracey Grant, inviting Beck to play in the JCC Maccabi Games.  Atlanta is the first inclusive Maccabi host city that reached out to athletes with special needs to compete in the Games.

“The Maccabi Games were so great for Beck’s self-confidence; he doesn’t always get a chance to do what other kids do,” says Lori Rubin. 

Each year, the JCC Maccabi Games’ Olympic-style competition is held in a different city and brings Jewish teen-athletes ranging from 12 to 16 years old from around the globe to compete in 14 different sports, perform community service, and promote human values. Maccabi Team Atlanta’s nearly 600 athletes welcomed 1,000 visiting athletes from 35 delegations from across the U.S., Panama, Israel, and Mexico.

Beck and the other athletes were paired with a buddy at the Games. "The experience truly exceeded our expectations," says Lori. “We thought Beck would want to leave early some days, but he wanted to stay for all of the practices, Opening Ceremonies, Nitrozone, the Aquarium, and Closing Ceremonies.”

Beck competed in the 14 and under (U14) track & field and ended up winning two medals – one in shot put and another for sportsmanship.