The Shai Society for the rehabilitation and support of disabled children is the volunteer organization behind The House of Wheels and was established by the late Miriam Schwartz in 1980. It is devoted to the development and integration of physically handicapped children in Israel, and also gives the families of the children a brief respite during the time that the children are under the direct care of the organization.
Today, in addition to the original house in Herzliya, there are three additional centers: Jerusalem, the Negevand the Galil. The four centers provide activities for 300 children, youth,and young adults between the ages 12 and 30, the majority of who suffer from muscular dystrophy and cerebral palsy. Activities are conducted in intimate groups of 15 children and youths under the supervision of a like number of volunteering guides.The 300 volunteers are the backbone of our project. They are mainly students between 22 and 28 years of age. The volunteers are motivated solely by their deep sense of responsibility and love for the youngsters and children.
Once a month a group spends the weekend at The House of Wheels, where they socialize and engage in various activities. Group activities reach a climax during the summer school vacation and holiday season, when each group sets off for a week of intense educational and social activities and lots of fun. During the summer camp and weekend activities, the youngsters participate in activities from which they are normally precluded due to their disabilities, such as camel riding, water chutes, kayaking, hill climbing and sleeping out in the open. During their activities the youngsters learn to cope with and overcome their physical pain and impediments.
In addition to the social activities during group weekends and vacations, there are workshops throughout the week, with professional instructors aided by the guides. Workshops are based on a common activity for a group of youths of varying ages. Classes include drama, psychodrama, journalism, video, sailing, art and music.
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