Special Needs Programs


Make lasting friendships, foster new relationships, join a team, and be an active member in a community that cares. With the Transitions and Ha Dereckh programs, a swim class just for teens and young adults, Community Cooks, and Girls' Night Out, there are a range of options for teens to find a community of their peers where they can explore their individual interests.


Transitions is a social program for teens and young adults ages 16–21 on the autism spectrum or with communication or learning differences and with a high potential for independence, in which they build friendships while emphasizing independence and the acquisition of life skills. In order to assure that Transitions classes are comprised of a group of individuals who will optimally benefit from the program, a brief intake process is required. For more information, contact Michelle Wexler or 646.467.9218.

Ha Dereckh: The Path

Ha Dereckh is a mentorship program where teens of all abilities are given community based opportunities and experiences to learn and grow. Teens are matched with a peer mentor throughout the program who supports them in developing skills towards independence. The program runs Tuesday evenings, September through May. Registration takes place in August and September.  If you are interested in a spot for fall, please contact Alex LoPinto at alopinto@mmjccmanhattan.org.  

Community Cooks

Share an incredible social justice experience with other teens. In this inclusive program, teens will work together to prepare a delicious home-cooked meal for the B'nai Jeshurun/Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew Homeless Shelter. In addition to cooking, teens explore Jewish values and ideas connected to hunger and homelessness. For more information, please contact Alex LoPinto or call 646.505.4375.

Girls' Night Out

Girls' Night Out allows teens of all abilities to enjoy a relaxed, fun social group and foster close friendships with other young women. The group is peer-developed and -facilitated to create a truly natural social setting. The flexible structure of the group empowers the participants to make choices about the activities—from going out for ice cream to having a picnic in the park to just hanging out and listening to music—while engaging in their interests with peers. For more information, please contact Kelley Bligh.

All of the Center for Special Needs programs are open to the broader community.

For more information, please email Alex LoPinto or call 646.505.4375.

Transitions is supported by NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Ha Dereckh is made possible with support from UJA-Federation of New York, and the Ellen & Ronald Block Family Foundation. Girls Night Out and Community Cooks are supported by the New York City Council's Autism Initiative.

Help us continue to ensure accessible programming for everyone. Please support Special Needs programming at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan.