Sunday, June 12, 2011

Shalom from the Holy Land - by Donna Lee

Shalom from the holy land. It is so good to be home, to feel the Mediterranean sun and winds on my skin, to smell the orange blossoms as I ride my bike through the orchards and fields. To hear everyone greet each other with "shalom" and/or "Chag Sameach" (happy holiday) on Shevuot, the day the 10 commandments were handed to Moses on Mount Sinai. And to dodge the cars of the  craziest drivers in the world (that is why I choose the unpaven paths!!!).

"FRIENDS! In this park we are friends, all of us - we meet, play and are friendly!"

But most of all, it fills my heart to see how this small country has such a GREAT awareness to children and adults with disabilities. Today I had the pleasure of revisiting one of the nicest parks I know of, in Ra'anana, which caters to children with special needs. 

 "This park has been made especially for our children with special needs.
Please give them the right of way, allowing them to be first."

The unique school I use to work for, Beit Issie Shapiro built a play area, in this park, with much thought and planning so that children with any type of challenge can enjoy the outdoor activities. It is also encouraged, in the many adorable signs, for ALL children to play together, follow the safety rules and to help those who are in "designer " motorized or manual wheelchairs.
 "It's fun to play together, all we need is to follow the rules."


As I explored and experienced the different apparatuses with my grandson, I thought of my friend Riley and how I would place him in or on the various swings and carousels. And how Ronan would have a BLAST with us.
 Wheelchair Carousel

The park was full of young adults riding specialized bicycles with their counselors running beside them.  Sorry, my batteries ran out, no photos (I will return and make sure to get some). They are 3-wheelers with special handle bars and velcro straps to keep the feet on the peddles. The smiles on the riders' faces were from ear to ear.  And bicycles built for two, where the riders on the back are blind. I said to myself, "why can't we have a place like this in South West Florida?!?!?!?" The wheels in my mind are turning............

Sure, this is a tiny, stress-full, crowded country, with hot tempered and emotional citizens, but the awareness of the needs of others is amazing. It makes me very proud to be part of it.
One of the many ingenious swings.
B'ahava
Nameste, 
DONNA LEE

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