“In Israel, some 320,000 (approximately nine per cent of) children ages 0-19 live with a disability,” according to Beit Issie Shapiro, a not-for-profit agency that serves a segment of that population.
Every year, more than 30,000 people receive assistance from Beit Issie Shapiro, often in an innovative way. Its early intervention centres provide enrichment treatment and special education programs for children with developmental delays and disabilities. More than 100 early intervention centres across Israel have been established on the Beit Issie Shapiro model.
The centres address children’s physical, cognitive, social, and emotional development. They employ physical, occupational and speech/language therapy, while training the children to be independent.
It has employed iPads to help children’s cognitive development and it adapted a Dutch program, called Snoezelen, for use with children with severe sensory difficulties.
Beit Issie Shapiro facilities also employ integrated play and educational programs, hydrotherapy, creative therapies including art, music, movement, pet therapy, vacation programs, and dental care.
The programs are geared for children with a range of physical and intellectual disabilities, including developmental delays and disorders, cerebral palsy, autism, Rett syndrome, Down syndrome and metabolic disorders.
In 2011 Beit Issie Shapiro was named Israel’s most effective nonprofit by efficiency monitor, Midot. It has also been granted special consultative status by the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). It operates a facility in the village of Kalansua where it provides services to Arab Israelis.
According to Benjy Maor, Beit Issie Shapiro’s director of international resource development, the agency has a budget of $9 million (US), a quarter of which is provided by the government of Israel.
Addressing the “Morning with Movers” event sponsored by Canadian Friends of Beit Issie Shapiro, Maor said the agency likes to be in “start-up” mode, seeking new and innovative solutions to the issues faced by its clients. The goal is to help its patients normalize their lives while encouraging their integration into broader society.