By Hana Levi Julian
For the fourth straight year, hundreds of students from Jewish day schools and Hebrew schools across the US, Canada, the United Kingdom and even Poland are learning about the care, rehabilitation and advancement of children with severe disabilities by creating unique ‘Sensory Hanukah Cards’ intended to lift the spirits of their peers at ADI, a network of specialized care and empowerment for the most vulnerable members of Israeli society.
Young artists from more than 30 schools were inspired to the effort by one of the inclusion-focused challenges posed by the organization’s ‘ADI Bechinuch’ Disability Inclusion Program.
The program’s curriculum of interactive modules and STEM projects highlights the importance of disability inclusion and transform the students into disability advocates and agents of change in their own communities.
The students’ holiday masterpieces feature bright colors, interesting textures and 3D elements for ADI’s residents and severely disabled special education students to look at and touch.
The cards are being delivered to the organization’s two centers in Jerusalem and the Negev by the boxful.
“In a world that is often darkened with hatred and intolerance, we need to teach our children to shine the light of empathy and compassion,” said Elie Klein, ADI’s Director of Development for the US and Canada.
“The ADI Bechinuch program broaches the subject with sensitivity and imagination, employing fun and engaging lessons, activities and simulations to teach students of every age how to open their hearts and minds to the needs and challenges of others.”
Alongside offering a compelling reason to do something thoughtful for others, the creative process becomes an opening for a class discussion about “the abilities that can be found within every disability and how they can promote disability inclusion in their own communities and beyond,” Klein added.
In the months ahead, the ADI Bechinuch partner schools, including many affiliated with Jewish National Fund-USA, will continue to explore the importance and impact of disability inclusion by completing interactive modules, taking virtual tours of ADI Jerusalem and ADI Negev-Nahalat Eran and creating simple STEM projects to enhance the lives of individuals with disabilities in their communities.
In February, the schools will also participate in ADI’s ‘Make the Change Challenge,’ an international STEM accessible design contest to mark Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance and Inclusion Month (JDAIM).
ADI provides its residents and special education students with the individualized growth plans and specialized services they need to grow and thrive. Its rehabilitation patients receive the treatments and therapies they need to heal and return to their lives, while the community at large is provided with tangible opportunities for encountering disability, raising awareness and promoting acceptance.