Summer Communities for Children with Disabilities and Everyone

With summer vacation upon us, parents can often have a hard time finding activities for their children with disabilities. The Jerusalem Post has a great piece about Beth Steinberg and Miriam Avraham, two such mothers who decided to take matters into their own hands. They launched Shutaf, originally a summer camp, and now including a year-round youth group in Jerusalem, as a special kind of program for children of all abilities.

The key idea behind Shutaf is to create a community around children with disabilities and then encourage mainstream children to be a part of it, rather than try to establish programming for children with disabilities in the periphery. This sort of inclusiveness is key in helping both disabled and typically-abled children better understand the differences, and similarities, between them.

“We live in a world of all different kinds of people, and it’s time that everyone wakes up to these models of inclusion,” says Steinberg.

“The world wants to divide people up into special-needs and not-special- needs, but it’s not that simple; there are grey areas, and if you ask me, everyone on this planet has some type of special needs,” Avraham adds, noting that “in all of our frameworks, we try to stay away from the labeling, because we want to give all the children a place to grow.”

Shutaf’s programs are particularly welcome and needed in Israel, where support services and progressive attitudes towards those with disabilities continue to lag behind those in the U.S.

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