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Top 20 Under 40 - Yaffi Ullman

Ullman is the Co-Founder, Program Director and Coordinator of Camp AIM, a recreational and therapeutic summer program for children with special needs.

By: Daniel Horowitz
Published: February 12th, 2013 in Culture » Society » Interviews
Yaffi Ullman

Shalom Life is proud to present our 3rd annual ”Top 20 Under 40” list. Over the next 20 days, Shalom Life will showcase 20 individuals of diverse talents and backgrounds that have made a significant contribution to their field both locally and globally. From entrepreneurs to philanthropists, entertainers to doctors, this list places a spotlight on a small sampling of the spectacular, innovative, and passionate Jews that call Toronto home.

Top 20 Under 40- Yaffi Ullman

Age: 26

Despite the decades that have since passed, I can still remember – vividly – how cold the wooden floors of my Camp New Moon cabin were every morning.

I recall getting my first swimming medallion at the camp, celebrating with a leap off the dock, into the warm, clear waters of the Lake of Bays. And who can ever forget the socials and actually asking girls to dance?

Summer camp is an experience like no other; a young person’s first declaration of independence, as they create memories – and relationships – that remain for a lifetime.

No child should ever be denied the right to that unique and vital experience.

Fortunately, Yaffi Ullman-Scheinberg feels the same way.

Yaffi, 26, a native of Jerusalem whose family moved to Toronto when she was four, is the Co-Founder, Program Director and Coordinator of Camp AIM, the main product of Project AIM programs, a recreational and therapeutic summer program for children with special needs.

The, well, “aim” of AIM, which was established in 2008, is to create a camp experience catered to the needs of children aged 3-12 with a wide range of disabilities and medical needs, while also helping them improve their skills and gain self-esteem through the summer in a day camp atmosphere.

It is the only Jewish day camp in Toronto providing for special needs children, serving over 50 children in each session throughout the summer, along with a special four-day overnight trip.

“Camp AIM, which I’m proud to say won a UJA Federation of Greater Toronto Six Point grant, was created to answer a desperate call from parents I had relationships with,” explains Yaffi, who is trained in ABA (Applied Behavioural Analysis) therapy and is a certified ECE/Montessori teacher, as well as a new first-time mother. “These parents had exhausted their resources trying to find quality summer programming for their children with physical and cognitive delays. I started Camp AIM while still single, with plenty of time on my hands and even more room in my heart. Camp AIM became a place where I could infuse my energy and passion in a fun and creative way. My friends and I looked at it as more of a hobby than a job.”

But make no mistake about it; running an organization that caters to the needs of not only children with special needs – but their families – as well, is very much a job, a job fraught with challenges, and one that requires a strong, committed and passionate proponent.

In other words, it requires Yaffi Ullman-Scheinberg.

“I was raised in a family and a school that emphasized community involvement,” she explains. “While still in school, I was involved in many different charities and became a known address for organizations to call on when they needed a volunteer. I remember receiving a phone call from a special needs coordinator asking me to volunteer with a child after school to which I promptly replied, ‘I don’t do special needs.’ I laugh when I recall that conversation because after some prodding I agreed to try it – but only for a short period of time.”

Typical of Yaffi’s compassion and dedication, she is still connected to that child and his family, despite the fact that some eight years have passed since that “short period of time” began.

“Working with special needs is addictive and once you enter that world it’s hard to leave it,” explains Yaffi. “I try and give youth a taste of what its like to become these children’s hero, and more often than not, I later get asked to write a reference for them when they choose to go into special education as a profession.”

Related articles: Top 20 Under 40, Yaffi Ullman, Camp AIM, Kids, Disabilities, Jewish, Toronto, Summer Camp, Special Needs
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Top 20 Under 40 - Yaffi Ullman

Ullman is the Co-Founder, Program Director and Coordinator of Camp AIM, a recreational and therapeutic summer program for children with special needs.

Top 20 Under 40- Alex Enchin

This 25-year old entrepreneur co-founded Canada's Wagjag.com

Top 20 Under 40- Stephen Adler

From ABC Sports to Executive Director at CFTAU, Stephen Adler continues to inspire others daily.

Top 20 Under 40 - Adam Bekhor

WineWire Inc. brings your favorite restaurant wines to your home dinner table.

Top 20 Under 40 - Karen Devon

Dr. Devon is an endocrine and thyroid surgeon at Women’s College Hospital, who spends her spare time traveling for international medical missions.

Top 20 Under 40 - Kim Smiley

If you ever have the pleasure to meet Kim, you will see that her passion for social justice is infectious.

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