In contrast to parents, 88% of students favor integration of disabled youth

Students going to school  (photo credit: Courtesy)
Students going to school
(photo credit: Courtesy)
School students may not vote for the Knesset, but they already made their first choice in the polls. In contrast to their parents, 88% of students would be glad to participate in an activity with people with disabilities and 62.5% would like them to be a part of their classes. Eighty percent believe that society's attitude towards people with disabilities requires improvement.
The youth who voted were participating in "Tikkun Olam Parliament" of the Aleh association of which the goal is to lead to change in the attitude of Israeli society towards people with disabilities. In contrast to the results of a survey conducted by the Israel Association of Community Centers six months ago, in which 90% of parents oppose the integration of a child with disabilities in an activity with their children, it appears that the youth actually thinks otherwise. Only 12% of youth opposed the integration or did not express an opinion, and only 25% responded that the integration would create a difficulty.
One of the students wrote, "A student with disabilities brings a bit of difficulty to the teaching staff, but it is a positive difficulty."
Another student noted that "it is a difficulty that educates us and contributes to all of us, not any less than to a person for which we volunteer."
The students' team, consisting of 180 students from 85 schools, middle schools and high schools around the country, participated in a leadership day by the Aleh association, which has been operating for the third year with the Ministry of Education in 105 schools. At the end of the event, they voted in the polls. Eighty percent of them stated that the way Israeli society addresses people with disabilities is in need of improvement, in contrast to 20% alone who argued that the treatment is fair and worthy. The students also had a message for the Knesset members who will be voted in in the upcoming elections: 50% said that if they were public figures, they would first care for the accessibility of public areas and service centers for people with disabilities. Furthermore, 18.5% believed that raising allowances for people with disabilities was the most important issue.
Director of the association's "Tikkun Olam Parliament" program Batel Katorza Cohen said, "At the meeting, we saw caring, sensitive, motivated students with great leadership potential who wish to change what is happening. They are a generation of our future leaders, who constantly see the need for real connection. Through this program, it is possible to change the reality in Israeli society."
This article was translated from Maariv by Tamar Beeri.