My first stop today was at an amazing institution in Jerusalem called Aleh (http://www.aleh.org). Aleh provides for an average of 650 people with disabilities everyday, providing living space, life training, and outstanding therapies for everyone who comes to their facilities. What particularly stood out to me about the program was their ability to help the people with even the most extreme disabilities engage in everyday activities and learn life skills. During my tour I saw children of all ages and level of disabilities preparing for Pesach by cleaning dishes, vacuuming, and exercising their senses. I was inspired by what Aleh is doing for their patients, families, and also the integration of the community.
Many people associate special needs facilities with sadness, but at my second stop today, Shalva (http://www.shalva.org), I witnessed an environment that was bright and full of activity. Our tour started off with a mini performance by the Shalva band and it was awesome. The musicians were having a great time playing beautiful music, singing, and expressing themselves. The music group performs outside Shalva including a performance for Shimon Perez and for the Shalva community, truly amazing! The director of the music club, Shai, spoke with me about the importance of providing students of any art therapy program the opportunity to perform and show off their progress, exactly what I want to provide for children with special needs in Boston. Shalva has created an outstanding and inspirational afterschool program that functions as a support center for families with children who have special needs. They provide a happy environment for the children to learn, grow, and be with their friends and along the way change the image of people with special needs.
Dance, move, and empower,