Helping Disabled Israeli Children Advocate for Themselves

“I am proud that Beit Issie teaches children at a young age to recognize their rights and use their voices to create needed change.” — Ahmir Lerner, Beit Issie Shapiro Executive Director

Did you know that your donations to Federation’s Annual Campaign help empower disabled Israelis and improve accessibility for everyone? Maddie Appel, the grants and philanthropy manager at our Israeli partner Beit Issie Shapiro, recently shared this inspiring story: 

Self-advocacy is a core value at Beit Issie Shapiro. From infants with disabilities at the De Lowe Early Intervention Center to adult participants of our National Leadership Center for Social Change, we help people with disabilities gain the skills, confidence, and collaborative structure to both know their rights and advocate for them. 

The children in our Special Education School are especially busy. From student council to student-chosen elective courses, they are encouraged and guided to use their voices and advocate for themselves and their interests. 

This year, the Blue Class, which includes students 11 to 12 years of age, learned about accessibility and equality. To put these important themes to the test, the group assessed the school’s entrance gate against specific accessibility criteria from the Access Israel website. Their findings? It turns out the gate did not meet one of the requirements; and thus, our students decided to act. 

“The class was motivated and excited that they could make a difference,” shared Vanessa, a Blue Class teacher. 

Using an app that makes communication accessible for children with disabilities, the students wrote a formal letter to Beit Issie Shapiro’s Executive Director, Ahmir Lerner. Lerner brought the issue to his senior management team, who immediately approved a plan to fix the gate. 

Now, the children enter the building each day through an improved, accessible entrance — while confidently knowing that this change was a direct result of their advocacy. 

“We are extremely grateful to the Blue Class for ensuring Beit Issie is accessible for all,” Lerner said.

Click here to learn more about Beit Issie Shapiro’s life-affirming work. 

Image courtesy of Beit Issie Shapiro