April 21, 2011
A Special Place in Israel Called Home: Kishorit
A recent national Parade magazine article titled, “Who Will Care for Dana” spoke to a major issue for many parents of kids with special needs—will there be a warm, safe and loving home environment for all the soon-to-be adults with developmental disabilities? And even more pointedly, who will pay for it?
With one in every 110 children (and one in 70 for boys ) now diagnosed with autism, there is simply not enough housing to accommodate the landslide of adults coming of age who will need to find a home away from their parents’ house in the next few years. When we visited Israel last Passover, we spent a delightful day at Kibbutz Kishor located in the northern hills of the Galilee and home to 140 residents with special needs, along with paid staff and volunteers. A friend of ours from Los Angeles had made the appointment, and was there with her family (they also have a teenager with developmental disabilities).
Our two families drove in from Jerusalem (unknowingly picking one of the worst days possible to do so during the Passover holiday, and ended up a traffic jam rivaling the 405 during rush hour). Once we arrived at Kishor, we took a long exhale when we saw the beautiful flowers, trees, and pastoral surroundings.
After a decade, Kishorit became an integral part of Kibbutz Kishor, and received the status of Associate Kibbutz as part of the Ha-Shomer Ha-Tza’ir kibbutz movement. The most remarkable thing about the Kibbutz is that residents have many different opportunities for meaningful work, from helping to manufacture old-style wooden toys to different agricultural work, such as helping with the goat farm or organic egg farm specializing in miniature schnauzers and dachshunds, with the champion blue ribbons and trophies to show for it!
While Shuki was talking, our son Danny nibbled on some matzah and macaroons, and he seemed bored and disengaged, but when Shuki asked if we had any questions, Danny piped up with one word: “Pool? “ Shuki assured us that a pool was in the future plans.
Links to other special needs stories/programs in Israel which I have learned about (not by any means exhaustive):
1) National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS), My Story “The Other Side of the River” by Chaya Ben Baruch, Safed Israel.
2) Eliya-Israel Association for the Advancement of Blind and Visually Impaired Children –comprehensive programs and services for infants and young children, from all backgrounds and sectors. For more information click here
3)Israel Unlimited and JDC Supportive Communities In Israel
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