The Power of Nature- Personal Reflections

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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 as part of LOTEM’s Natural Integration program.  This program, in its third year of operation, brings together children from a special needs class with those from a regular education class for joint hikes and educational activities in nature.  The students sat down together to write about their experiences.

IMG_2346March 6, 2013- We are students from the Tali Bet Chinuch School and the Ben Yehuda School.  We are between the ages of 13-14.  In our group is Alon, age 13, who loves to play soccer and Gida, age 14, who loves to hike and belly dance.  Stav, age 13, loves to read, dance, sing and hike and Noam, age 14, loves to hike and help others.

We participated in a joint program called Natural Integration with the organization LOTEM, in cooperation with Makom LeKulam.  In the first encounter, the students from Bet Chinuch came to Ben Yehuda.  We played games to get to know one another and planned a joint hike together. The second encounter took place in KKL-JNF’s Ayalon Park Canada.  We hiked together on the trails and had different activities through which we learned about our surroundings.  Throughout the hike, we ran together hand-in-hand.  We really enjoyed.

After the hike, we prepared food in the field, including pizza, croissants, chocolate treats and vegetables.  When we were on the bus returning to our schools we had a desire for more…

IMG_2600The third encounter was in KKL-JNF’s Aminadav Forest.  In this encounter we learned sign language and how to sing songs using different hand motions.  We learned Braille and even how to say in sign language, “Happy Passover”.  After the hike, we had a closing ceremony.  Our classmates from the two schools spoke about their experiences from this project.  Jay Ruderman who funded this project through the Ruderman Family Foundation attended the ceremony.  We felt honored to meet him.

Each one of us learned many new things.  Noam learned a life lesson that it is possible to take positive things from each person.  “We need to accept differences regardless of who the person is. The children from ‘Ben Yehuda’ have such happiness for life.  They have such strong willpower and they do not give up- even in difficulty.  This is something I need to take upon myself.”

Alon learned much from the instruction of Shai, his guide from LOTEM.  He really enjoyed the hikes.  “I gave the gift to Jay.  I felt good giving it to him.”

hikeGida had fun hiking with the students from Bet Chinuch.  “The most fun was the activity when we made ‘Happy Passover’ cards with sign language.”

One of the most prominent things that Stav learned is that there is no such thing as a “normal” person.  “Everybody is different, everybody is unique”.

Each one of us enjoyed very much the hikes and encounters.  We got to know new and unique people.  We would like to thank very much Jay Ruderman for his contribution, the LOTEM guides who were with us and the different people who supported us through the difficulties.

Written By: Alon, Gida, Stav and Noam, students in the Bet Chinuch School for regular education and Ben Yehuda School for special education

For more information about this project click here

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