Ilanot School Accessible Playground makes Learning Fun .
(photo credit: KKL-JNF)
The excitement was palpable at the Ilanot School for Special Education in Jerusalem one morning in August, when the students played for the first time in the new accessible
schoolyard constructed thanks to Friends of JNF Canada. Their happy cries could be heard from afar as the children tried out the special playground equipment, explored the schoolyard and played with their friends in the open air.
“Our hope was that our students would be able to go outside and enjoy playground facilities like other children all over the world,” explained Yuval Tsur, the principal of the Ilanot School for Special Education in Jerusalem. “They are learning by playing, creating social interaction and also undergoing therapeutic processes.”
Hodaya Revivo, a sixteen-year-old from Jerusalem, agreed with the principal: “It’s nice that we can go outside and not be closed indoors all day at school. It’s fun to play outside with friends and also learn new things.”
There are around seventy children with complicated physical disabilities enrolled at the Ilanot School, including many with Cerebral Palsy. The school serves a multi-cultural population—Jews and Arabs, religious and non-religious, younger and older -so accepting the other
is an integral part of their experience. Underlying the educational work there is the belief that every child has the right to self-determination and to influence his or her surroundings.
The new playground was created with precisely this approach in mind so that the children could play outside independently and use the equipment without assistance, each according to his or her capabilities and skills. As architect Arielle Blonder explains: “Our dream was to construct a place where each child would be able to be as independent as possible and to influence their surroundings through their activities. The big challenge was to create an environment suitable for everyone that would also respond to the particular needs of every child.”
When you look at the children playing in the schoolyard, it looks like this dream has definitely come true. The children move among the facilities, pulling, turning, swinging and reaching. They are impressed by the motion, the sounds and sensations, and they discover a new and amazing world that has opened up for them.
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