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Hadassah Rolls Out Special Needs Training Wheels Program

Emily North

(New York, NY -- September 21, 2004) -- In time for the new school year and the High Holidays, Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, has rolled out a dynamic and comprehensive nationwide Jewish education program for children with special needs. Since Training Wheels/Al Galgalim was created in 1994, some 3,500 families have participated in Hadassah’s Jewish family education program, which lets parents (or grandparents) of young children become partners in discovering the joys of being Jewish. Now, its curriculum has been modified to accommodate various learning disabilities so that families can learn about Shabbat and the Jewish holidays in a developmentally appropriate and supportive environment.

During nine sessions throughout the year, a Special Needs Training Wheels facilitator and an adult volunteer lead small groups of children, aged four to eight, and their parents or grandparents in creative and hands-on projects, such as crafts, singing, or story-telling.

This program was created in response to a Hadassah member from Long Island who wanted her developmentally challenged son to benefit from Al Galgalim, in which her elder son, a typically developing child, had previously participated. To produce this program, Hadassah’s Nassau Region worked together with Hadassah’s National Jewish Education Department and F.E.G.S Long Island, which obtained funding from the Rita and Stanley Kaplan Endowment Fund through UJA-Federation of New York.

“We’ve had lots of enthusiastic responses to the program,” said Sue Mizrahi, Chair of Jewish Family Education. “It’s clear that Hadassah is filling a very real and ‘special’ need.”

Special Needs Training Wheels is currently underway in regions across the country. For more information about Special Needs Training Wheels, please contact Hadassah’s National Jewish Education Department at 1-800-391-3999.


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