The therapeutic programs are custom designed to meet the special needs of the children. Animal therapy teaches them to care for the animals while enhancing their sense of self by assuming responsibilities such as petting, feeding or walking with the animals and by giving and receiving affection. The gardening therapy teaches them limitations, daily assignments, and responsibilities. Specific activities and lessons include:
- Strengthening the child’s self-esteem and self-image by helping them to excel in various hands-on activities.
- Developing calmness through taking care of and touching the animals as well as taking on various responsibilities.
- Recognizing protected plants and vegetation.
- Educating about cleanliness through various activities.
- Learning about the growing of organisms.
- Separating trash for recycling purposes, learning about the reduction of poisonous chemicals use, and using organic materials for farming purposes.
- Celebrating holidays such as Tu B’Shevat in order to preserve and strengthen Jewish and national pride.
- Experiments in the field and in labs which deal with observing animals and plants and putting data into different computer programs.
- Stressing one’s work as a positive contribution to society by commending and giving awards for their organization, timeliness, responsibility and team work.
- Joint farm activities with Arab and Jewish students, or special education and other students, in order to reach common goals while learning about one another’s differences.
Other projects and programs include:
- Renovating and building new schools, gymnasiums, auditoriums, libraries and computer centers for underprivileged children
- Building senior centers and providing transportation, programs, and hot nutritious meals for the elderly
- Giving “Dignity Cards,” $150/month for holocaust survivors, living on welfare, to use towards food, rent and utilities
- Planting trees and gardens
- Developing parks and playgrounds in underprivileged neighborhoods
- Building and expanding state-of-the-art schools for the handicapped and those with special education needs
- Providing meals and enrichment programs for kindergarten children
- Building the new campus for the Academic College of Tel Aviv-Yafo
- Renovating the Cinematheque
- Expanding the Hemda Center for Science Education
Currently 1700 students throughout Tel Aviv benefit from the Tel Aviv Educational Farm, 700 of whom have special needs such as cerebral palsy and autism. Due to the success of the program, the need is for an expansion of the program to 28 schools to facilitate 500 additional special needs children.
The goals of the program are for special needs children, all of whom suffer from emotional, social and behavioral difficulties to:
1. Enjoy hands-on activities at the farm using their various senses.
2. Improve their communication and social interaction through their encounter with animals.
3. Experience pleasure and calmness.
4. Reduce violence through touching and taking care of the animals.
5. Increase their sense of self-reliance and achievement and help to develop a positive self-identity.
6. Facilitate a sense of acceptance through touching and taking care of the animals.
7. Develop an understanding of responsibility and of the needs of another living organism.
Specifically, at the Tel Aviv Educational Farm, programs have been custom-designed specifically for children who suffer from cerebral palsy, autism, vision impairment, ADD and ADHD and children recovering from various traumas (psychological and neurological). There is a balance of hands-on activities and responsibilities in the animal corner, in the vegetable garden and in the greenhouse, depending on the needs of the child. These programs have proven to increase self-esteem, encourage calmness, reduce violence and improve social interactions in the children participating in the fun and educational therapies.
"Finally I have a friend that I can touch and love." Micha, a severe cerebral palsy child, while holding a rabbit.
"It doesn't stare at me like people do on the street." Illana, a severe cerebral palsy child, said about the dog she is playing with.
Locally, children can
- Organize an event where participants read, run, walk, jump rope, bike, or swim – just to name a few – and are sponsored for their participation.
- Set up a JChoice donor group in support of the animal and gardening therapy for your Bar/Bat Mitzvah class, sports team, school, or youth group.
- Donate a portion of your Bar/Bat Mitzvah gifts to support the program and ask guests to contribute to it in your honor.
- Sponsor one or more schools of children to participate in the animal and gardening therapy for $4,103 each.
© 2013 Jewish Causes of Choice, Inc. All rights reserved. Jewish Causes of
Choice, Inc. is a non-profit organization exempt under the 501(c) section of the
internal revenue code.
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