This past spring, the Dekalim School in Be’er Sheva for teenagers with intellectual disorders went on a hike with LOTEM -- a JNF partner organization that makes nature accessible to children and adults in Israel with special needs. This outing was the students’ first overnight trip, and despite the fears of students and teachers alike, it was an incredible success. Below is an excerpt that I translated from an article that Shir and Shira, two students from Dekalim, wrote about their experiences hiking with LOTEM.
We want to say that this trip was an unforgettable experience. We want to tell everything that we experienced, so here goes. First of all, we really liked the first day when we traveled to Habonim Beach, and we really enjoyed the activities and we liked traveling to Acre. We went boating and we danced and it was fun – a lot of fun. After that we traveled to Rosh Hanikra and we traveled on the trolley and we saw beautiful and special sites.
Editor’s Note: This past school year, Alon and Gida, students in the Ben Yehuda School for children with special needs and Stav and Noam, students in the Tali Bet Chinuch School, were selected by their teachers to write about their experiences in LOTEM, an organization in Israel that offers hikes and educational nature activities to people with disabilities. Alon, Goda, Stav and Noam’s program brings together children with disabilities and those from a regular education class. They also wrote as a group about their experience. One of the students from the regular education class wrote while the other children dictated. Then Alisa Bodner, who works with both LOTEM and its partner, The Jewish National Fund, translated the piece into English and indicated which student made individual remarks.