Sadnat Shiluv (www.sadnat-shiluv.co.il), a 12-year-old non-profit venture, gives children from age 5 through post-high school the opportunity to be in an inclusive setting in an agricultural Israeli village. Students with physical, mental, or behavioral challenges learn and play with “mainstream” children from the surrounding kibbutz and town.
“We try to empower everybody here to use their maximum capabilities in a healthy society that’s able to recognize that every person has a place in the community. And the community has a lot to learn from them as well,” said Vivienne Glaser, whose son lives at Sadnat Shiluv. This past year the preschool component was expanded because two young women had finished the program with certification as preschool aides. “So to give them a job, the Sadna started two [kindergarten] classes,” she said.
In addition to the fullest possible integration (“You might see somebody with Down syndrome helping a first-grader learn to read,” said Glaser), the older special-needs children learn to care for farm animals. “One child was brought in after no other school was able to deal with him,” Glaser related. “He had been badly abused, and he wouldn’t talk. If you go to the animal corner today you will get a full lesson on animals from a happy 13-year-old.”