ENABLING DISCOVERY OF THE WORLD OF THE DISABLED
Tenth grade student Netanel Levi has walked into the entrance of Boys Town Jerusalem each morning for four years without (literally) ever looking back. He’d never given this activity a second thought until this week when he lost a stubborn fight to maneuver a wheelchair over the bumps in the sidewalk he’d never felt before. An hour earlier, Netanel had struggled valiantly to eat his lunch, but the blindfold over his eyes left him nearly helpless (and hungry). For Netanel and his 10th grade classmates, “Accessibility-for-the-Disabled Day” at Boys Town Jerusalem was a powerful eye-opener in every sense.
Carried out by the international prize-winning “Access Israel” organization, the Accessibility Day activities on the Boys Town Jerusalem campus not only enabled students to personally experience everyday challenges facing the disabled, but also gave them the opportunity to meet with “the people behind the disability.” Guy Moshe, a wheelchair-bound double amputee who directed the seminar, raised students’ awareness to everyday physical challenges facing the disabled, from inaccessible ATM machines to classroom blackboards too high for teachers in wheelchairs. Later, Mr. Moshe let students try their hand at navigating wheelchairs across the Boys Town Jerusalem campus, which they discovered to be a formidable obstacle course.
In sessions led by an IDF veteran who had suddenly become blind several years earlier and a young man who was deaf from birth, Boys Town Jerusalem students entered the world of the disabled and tried to grapple with challenges at hand. From stumbling blindfolded to trying to communicate without words, the boys were skillfully, sensitively guided to a new level of understanding.
“Although the ‘Accessibility-for-the-Disabled Day’ was quite an expensive event to finance, the awareness and understanding that our students gained is invaluable,” said high school principal Rabbi Doron Taib. “This is an investment for a lifetime.”
Rabbi Taib noted that Boys Town Jerusalem has embarked on the large-scale initiative to transform the 50+-year-old campus to become handicapped accessible. Following the recent dedication of the first handicapped-accessible restroom, the next phase is focused on either installing an elevator or a wheelchair lift to enable wheelchair-bound students and parents to easily reach the school’s four floors and three other floors that lead to the synagogues and laboratories.
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