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The Gan Zlil Project

At the end of an ordinary street in Tiberias, three steps lead down to an unremarkable building, but the door opens onto a very special place of love and care.

Gan Zlil was established in 2017 to provide nursery care for children with autism. It was felt that specialist help at an early age would enable the children to develop by connecting with others and learning to be independent. Such early intervention offers them the best opportunity to fulfill their potential in the future.

Nine children between the ages of three and six attend the kindergarten. Care is provided by Lital, the head teacher, along with her team of three teachers' aides and additional help from a Sherut Leumi volunteer.

When the ESRA committee of the Tiberias/Jordan Valley branch heard about this initiative, they decided to adopt the kindergarten as a branch project. After consultation with the local authority, and in partnership with ESRA national, the branch established the Gan Zlil project.

Branch member, Maggie Aladgem, is in regular contact with the kindergarten, as it is very important for these children to be familiar with the people around them. Another branch member, Carol Eisenberg, deals with the formalities. They are both frequent visitors to the kindergarten. Maggie helped take the children to a local park, which they very much enjoyed.

Our ESRA branch wanted to provide some specialist help. Lital consulted with the children's parents regarding her idea of animal therapy, and soon the Tiberias/Jordan Valley ESRA branch began providing weekly animal therapy sessions. Lital says, "It's a joy to see the interaction the children have with these small creatures."

Maggie and Carol visited the kindergarten to observe one of the animal therapy sessions and were heartened to see the benefit the children derived from it. They also brought the children holiday gifts provided by the branch, to their delight.

More recently, we also brought a special gift - a rocking horse, which was donated by Lydia Aisenberg from kibbutz Mishmar Ha'emek. The rocking horse had seen better days, but was restored by Michal Greenman, an ESRA volunteer from Kibbutz Degania Bet.

A sure sign of the success of the kindergarten is the number of its children that have been able to progress to mainstream schools, although some go on to special education. The local authority clearly recognizes how beneficial this type of kindergarten is, as they now have seven similar ones across the city.

The parents of these children are very grateful to ESRA for providing the animal therapy sessions and our ESRA branch hopes to continue this rewarding project.



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Friday, 12 July 2024

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