Children with special needs plant trees for Tu Bishvat in Neve Yaakov, thanks to Friends of JNF-KKL Germany.
(photo credit: YOAV DEVIR KKL-JNF)
Special needs children from various educational frameworks in Jerusalem went for a tree planting day in the city’s Neve Yaakov neighborhood. Participating in the event, which was made possible thanks to the support of friends of KKL-JNF from Germany, were 120 children, including some with physical disabilities, autism, blindness and mental and developmental limitations.
“It’s important for us that children with special needs do everything that other children do, and what is more typical of the Tu Bishvat time of year than tree planting?” said Hila Ziv, Director of the Jerusalem Municipality Special Needs Department (Tzamid). “The students really enjoy the connection to nature and to the land, and there is also the educational value of contributing to the community and to the environment, along with reinforcing the love of Israel. When the children give of themselves, they get a sense of satisfaction and improve their self-image.”
The Tzamid department is responsible for culture, leisure and informal education for children and teenagers with special needs in Jerusalem, and acts with the goal of integrating them into all fields of activity together with the rest of the general public.
The day was organized by KKL-JNF Education Division Director of Training and Educational Projects Dudu Ashkenazi, who has been responsible for activities with Tzamid over the past twenty years. “The children are given an opportunity to go out into nature and to the forest,” he said. “We sponsor various activities in KKL-JNF forests all year long, not only during Tu Bishvat. You can see in the children’s eyes what a great experience they’re having, and it fills me up with energy.”
Shamai Keinan, a member of the KKL-JNF Board of Directors and also a member of the organization’s educational committee, told the students about KKL-JNF’s work planting forests, building reservoirs and developing the country. He added that “for me, celebrating the tree planting holiday with special needs children is the most important of all our activities. You are demonstrating what love of Israel really means.”
The day began with game and activity stations, and the children learned by experience about Israel, its history, heritage and KKL-JNF’s part in its development. They located places on a giant map of the land of Israel, bounced a ball on a parachute with pictures of the country’s central sites, answered riddles as part of a game of snakes and ladders, and watched a demonstration of how a KKL-JNF firefighting truck works.
Read more, see photos of the KKL-JNF tree planting event with Tzamid.