Students Gain Awareness of Experiences of People With Disabilities at Global Conference for Israel

San Diego Jewish World
Man with a blindfold navigating a path איש עם עיניים מכוסות מנסה לעבור מסלול

Earlier this month at Jewish National Fund-USA’s Global Conference for Israel in Denver, high school students put themselves in the shoes of people with disabilities through simulations led by ADI, an Israeli disability care and advancement organization that empowers children, adolescents, and adults with severe disabilities and pioneers cutting-edge therapeutic and recovery services for anyone touched by disability.

ADI provides schools, synagogues, and other institutions across North America with disability inclusion programming free of charge. The programming features modules that teach students of all ages about disability by highlighting the importance of inclusion, while also aiming to transform the students into disability advocates and agents of change in their own communities.

Known as “ADI Bechinuch,” the programming offers a host of resources to help teachers educate and empower their students via disability awareness, including multimedia lessons about disability inclusion, equity and access; videos that spotlight the impact of various therapies used at ADI; STEM projects which are worked on in class and then donated to individuals with disabilities in the community; and a STEM accessible design contest to mark Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance, and Inclusion Month in February.

More than 40 Jewish schools across North America, including many affiliated with JNF-USA, utilized the ADI Bechinuch programming this past year.

“In a world that is 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 U.S. and Canada, who led the simulations at the conference. “The ADI Bechinuch programming 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. Though our ADI centers located in the Negev and Jerusalem, our ADI Bechinuch programming allows us to effectively promote disability inclusion, equity, and access around the globe.”

With the support of JNF-USA, the 40-acre ADI Negev-Nahalat Eran Rehabilitation Village provides its 170 residents and 190 special education students with the individualized growth plans and specialized services they need to grow and thrive, its thousands of rehabilitation patients with the inpatient and outpatient treatments and therapies they need to heal and return to their lives, and the community at-large with tangible opportunities for encountering disability, raising awareness and promoting acceptance.

Founded in 2005, the Rehabilitation Village was named to honor the memory of Eran Almog, the late son and guiding light of founders Didi and Major General (Res.) Doron Almog. Fueled by his love for Eran, who was born with severe autism and cognitive disabilities, Doron led the creation of the rehabilitation village, a community where people from diverse backgrounds and all levels of ability can live, heal, and grow together.

The conference session in Denver also featured a presentation from the JNF-USA affiliated Red Mountain Therapeutic Riding Center. While therapeutic horseback riding has long been used as a tool for improving the lives of people with a range of cognitive, physical, and emotional disabilities, the center is now offering therapeutic horseback riding to displaced residents from the Gaza envelope and northern Israel.

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