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Do you love kids? So do Elisheva and Na'ama!

Do you love kids? So do Elisheva and Na'ama!

Elisheva and Na'ama work as aides in special ed. kindergartens. Their work is demanding and challenging – and they love every minute of it! When placing people with special needs in regular jobs, the secret of success is finding them a job which matches their abilities and talents, something they feel is important and enjoyable, and gives them a reason to wake up in the morning with a smile on their face – just like the rest of us!

Elisheva and Na'ama feel right at home at their jobs. The kids welcome them with kisses and hugs, love to play with them, raptly listen when they read to them and wallow in the special attention each one gets. They've become an integral part of the kindergarten staff.

At Gan Rimonim Na'ama helps clean, prepare food and knows each child by name. When the housemother was out for a week, Na'ama did a great job in her place.

Elisheva and Na'ama are part of a pilot program with Jerusalem's Dept. of Education, integrating high-functioning people with special needs as special ed. kindergarten aides. Elisheva and Na'ama have succeeded so well due to the intensive instruction and back-up by SHEKEL staff, and the patience and understanding of the director in each kindergarten. Now that they receive real salaries, their lives have changed. They live in SHEKEL group homes and their instructors help them deal with these changes, such as learning about banks and managing their money wisely. Their regular jobs have given them new status, self-esteem, self-confidence, helped them learn to express themselves better and deal with new people and experiences. They feel wanted, part of the kindergarten team, and equal to everyone else.

Proof of the program's success occurred once when Elisheva had a personal problem which affected her at work and at her group home. She knew whom to turn to, how to express her problem and that she didn't have to face it alone.

There are other people with special needs at SHEKEL capable of similar jobs and efforts are being made to match them with suitable kindergartens. It all depends on the willingness and understanding of the kindergarten director and staff. There are even extra benefits in having these aides work in special ed. kindergartens. It gives parents of other special needs kids the hope and belief in their own kids' potential, as well as raising the public's awareness of what varied and challenging jobs people with special needs can do.

Suzie Sitbon, who initiated the City's program, is on the look-out for more special ed. kindergartens who can employ aides with special needs. She wants to see more initiatives on the part of city and government offices in employing people with special needs and expects them to serve as an example to the general public.

Your donations this Pesach will enrich and empower Elisheva and Na'ama and others like them to find real jobs in the regular workforce.  

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