You know those big signs on Route 4, near Riverside Square in Hackensack?
The big electronic billboards, the ones that usually show images from Holy Name Medical Center, but include some pictures of kids in its regular rotations? One happy-looking kid at a time, standing next to huge letters spelling out My Challenges Don’t Define Me, pointing to a sign with a self-definition? A sign saying I Am Smart, for example. Or Beautiful. Or Hard-Working. Or Cool.
Imagine that you see a small group of students working with an art teacher, concentrating, creating, learning.
Add the understanding that these children have developmental disabilities, and that the art teacher is in fact an art therapist. Be sure, though, that when you add this knowledge, you do not — because you should not — let it detract from the clear truth that there is joy in this learning, and learning in this joy.
For at least 25 years now, Joseph Freedland of Fair Lawn has been hiring people with special needs to help in the production and packaging of shower curtains and hospital curtains at Hospi-Tel in East Orange.
The family business, founded by his father and uncle and now owned by his brother David, has eight to 10 such people working in the factory at any given time. Two of them have been with the company 20-plus years.
It’s never been an issue before, certainly not in living memory.
But none of us has lived through a pandemic. We’ve never had to worry about our children getting covid-19, an infectious disease that until recently seemed definitely not to attack children very often, but a disease for which there is no cure. We haven’t had to worry about teachers and other school staff members getting it, and we haven’t had to worry about kids bringing the disease back home and infecting their families.
We’ve never had to worry about safety in this way before.
In early March, as the realization set in that we at Sinai Schools would have to move to online learning at all of our schools, it became apparent that we were living through history.
When Racheli Friedbauer, now 11, was enrolled four years ago in a Jewish special education program, it changed her life.
Due to a rare genetic disorder, Racheli has developmental delays and some medical problems, and she is extremely shy. But she thrived within the program, which is run by Sinai Schools, a network of special educational schools that operates within regular Jewish day school settings.
“It was an environment where she finally was comfortable, and she felt very loved and accepted for who she was,” said her mother, Jill Friedbauer.
Art therapy is a powerful tool for working with children who have special needs. It reduces their stress and anxiety, improves their self-esteem, and provides children who have difficulty expressing themselves in conventional ways with a nontraditional medium to communicate their thoughts and emotions. Sinai’s Paley-Mironov Art Therapy Program was established in 2012 by Steven and Laura Paley, and thanks to their generosity, it continues to enrich the lives of Sinai’s students.
It’s been over 2 months since we initially began to socially distance. As an educator, as a parent, and as a son, I can attest that this has been an extremely trying time.
On Tuesday, April 28, the U.S. Navy Blue Angels and the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds performed a stunning show to honor the first responders on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic. Flying in formation over Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge, our country expressed our collective gratitude to and admiration for this exceptional group of people.