Underwater aquarium at Jewish Community Center sends kids to camp

From staff reportsSeptember 10, 2013 

Sadie Rapp has transformed a poolside snack bar into an underwater oasis in a few months.

The 16-year-old is painting a mural at the Levin Jewish Community Center on Cornwallis Road and has already raised more than $26,000 for scholarships. As members of the community “adopt” sea creatures, she paints them in.

Rapp came up with the idea to connect art and philanthropy. The project supports the JCC Scholarship Fund, and donors adopt creatures ranging in size from hermit crabs for $50 to water dragons for $5,000.

“We are thrilled by the generosity of so many of our community members,” said Steve Schauder, executive director of the Jewish Federation of Durham-Chapel Hill. “Sadie is such an inspiration for us and her work has benefited so many children and adults.”

One of the main pillars of the Jewish Federation, the center’s umbrella organization, is to welcome and include all members of the community. As a result of this campaign 45 campers attended Camp Shelanu this summer. Scholarships went to individuals with financial needs, special needs, inclusion needs and children of veterans. For many campers it was their first summer camp.

“My son Atticus who has special needs attended Camp Shelanu this summer as a rising first-grader, and we could not have asked for a better experience,” said Shelagh Kenney.

“The inclusion support services have given my husband and me a true sense of belonging to the JCC community,” she added. “We know that everyone at Camp Shelanu wanted Atticus to succeed, to grow, and to have fun.”

The JCC Scholarship Fund is a year round project. In addition to camp scholarships, there are also scholarships available for JCC memberships so that families in need can also enjoy the facilities.

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