Over the course of 2018, ALEH, Israel’s network of care for children with severe complex disabilities, developed the “Dreams Come True” project, an initiative that focuses on granting the wishes of the ALEH residents, all of whom are nonverbal. During their daily interactions with the residents, ALEH’s professional staff glean bits of information about what each child wants to see, do, or accomplish most, and then work together with volunteers to make those dreams a reality.
There have been several wishes granted since the project’s launch, but the recent collaboration with the Jerusalem Police Department to help realize the dreams of a resident named Tal was truly something to behold.
“Tal is so kindhearted and giving. He is like a beloved little brother to all of the ALEH staff members and volunteers, and we are constantly showering him with love, but this was different. We finally found a way to show him just how much we care about him: by creating his perfect day,” said Rachely Teller, community relations coordinator at ALEH’s Jerusalem facility. “Every child deserves this level of love and attention, and we intend to keep running this project for as long as it takes to realize the dreams of every ALEH resident.”
As the unofficial greeting committee at ALEH’s residential facility in Jerusalem, Tal imparts a warm welcome to every visitor who crosses the threshold. Curious, friendly, and kind, Tal chooses to sit by the entranceway in the hopes of meeting interesting new people and making them smile. One of his favorite guests is Adi Parnasa, a police officer from Jerusalem’s Lev Habira station.
While training with the ALEH residents for last year’s Jerusalem Marathon, Adi discovered that Tal had always secretly wished that he could become a police officer. Adi shared this information with the ALEH staff and volunteers, and they all worked together to make it a reality.
On December 18, Adi and a group of her fellow officers arrived at ALEH in the Jerusalem Police Department’s fully-accessible “Wish Vehicle.” After outfitting Tal with his very own police uniform, they whisked him away for an unforgettable crimefighting experience. As they drove to the police station, Adi taught Tal about the sirens, communications system, and police scanner.
Upon their arrival at the station, the officers turned the tables on Tal, giving him a warm welcome and making him feel at home. After touring the police complex, Tal worked with investigators from the forensics lab to decipher a crime scene, instructed a police dog to locate dangerous substances, and assisted the bomb squad in disposing of a suspicious object. At the end of his training, the officers held a special ceremony for Tal, awarding him with new pins for his uniform and “promoting” him to Chief Superintendent of the station. After a delicious lunch in the communal dining room, the officers brought Tal back home to ALEH.
“Working with Tal gives me so much joy, and I was so happy to share the experience with my fellow officers. To know him is to love him,” said Adi. “It was truly our privilege to surprise Tal and help make his dreams come true. Throughout the course of the day, we realized that words were unnecessary — Tal’s facial expressions alone told the full story, and his smiles were the greatest reward. We may have given Tal a special day, but he gave us so much more in return.”
Since its establishment in 1982, ALEH has provided Israeli children with severe complex disabilities with the best available care and the opportunity to develop to their fullest potentials. Thanks to ALEH’s continuum of loving care from infancy through childhood and adulthood, residents advance well beyond their initial prognoses and live happy, dignified, and meaningful lives. Day after day, ALEH’s professional medical and rehabilitative staff and dedicated volunteers work tirelessly to help the residents reach individualized goals, instill them with self-confidence and pride, and restore hope to their families.
To learn more and to donate, please visit ALEH.org.