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Tikkun Olam – Making the World a Better Place, One Student At A Time
ALEH’s Tikkun Olam program [in Hebrew: repairing the world], in partnership with the Ministry of Education, exposes tens of thousands of high school youth to people with disabilities and to the concept and principles of accessibility. This pioneering initiative has been changing common attitudes and creating a more caring and inclusive society in Israel and beyond by imparting the importance of acceptance and inclusion through lectures, workshops and hands-on volunteering opportunities. Since the launch of the project there has been a noticeable spike in youth-led volunteerism and social activism initiatives from participating students from a diversity of spheres across the educational spectrum and from all areas of the country.
As the current school year draws to a close, here are some of the Tikkun Olam special events and activities initiated and run by participating students:
Café with food-for-thought on the menu: 9th graders from Modiin transformed their classrooms into an accessible educational café for some 200 students. The café’s take away – an open dialogue held on the subject of accessibility, disability, and learning about challenges in the lives of people with special needs and complex disabilities. The students served up offerings such as ‘ethics salad’, ‘justice shakshuka’, and ‘ravioli of hope’ – values with which they hope to ‘flavor’ Israeli society.
Marching towards a better future: Students are gearing up towards a march of inclusivity – the culmination of a year’s journey towards social change in Israeli society. Under the banner ‘Together, We Are One’, some 10,000 students from 64 schools participating the Tikkun Olam initiative will be striding forward in a call for equality, advancement and inclusion of people with disabilities and special needs in all areas of society. The students will be joined by their peers from special-education schools, people from the community at large, ALEH residents, families, caregivers and volunteers. The 2-kilometer marches, taking place in a number of cities throughout the country, will also feature a number of experiential challenges, to be executed together with people with disabilities: dancing, basketball, crafts, an interactive graffiti wall, photography and make-up booths – all designed for accessibility.
Integrated field trips with added values: For hundreds of students, the annual school trip assumed an added dimension with the inclusion of people with disabilities, and the resultant teamwork, camaraderie, and mutual support combined for an exhilarating experience. The students were inspired to see how people with visual impairments could still navigate their way with confidence; in turn they provided descriptions of the scenery and potential pitfalls. The students were also joined by people using wheelchairs specially adapted for rugged terrain, enabling them to access the trail together with the students. The day trip turned into a journey for a lifetime, as the Tikkun Olam participants learned how to navigate challenges and to persevere in the face of adversity.
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