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.
When Rabbi Yehoshua Gold was asked to fill in one day as a counselor in the Diamond Program, a behavioral modification summer program for children in Far Rockaway with special needs, he didn’t know his life was about to change. Headed for a career in math, he changed course after one day on the job. He came back the next day and stayed on as a counselor. After two years, he switched to special education as a career. Now, he runs Camp Shalom in Teaneck, where this summer he introduced the Diamond program, the first one outside of Far Rockaway.
About five years ago, Jennifer Rosenberg faced a conundrum.
As head of a Jewish day school in Michigan, Rosenberg noticed a marked increase in families interested in enrolling children with disabilities like dyslexia, attention deficit disorder and autism.
Rosenberg wanted to welcome these families seeking a Jewish education for their children, but she knew that accommodating such students required extra resources — a real challenge for her small elementary school, Hebrew Day School of Ann Arbor.
Catch SINAI students on TV!
SINAI Schools' vocational partnership with Bergenfield Volunteer Ambulance Corps was featured in a segment on NJ12's Education Matters, discussing the ways SINAI students contribute to BVAC's lifesaving work while also gaining new professional and social skills.
The great musical maestro, Arturo Toscanini, was once listening to a very complex concert with a friend. Toscanini, known for his photographic memory, intense personality and superb ear for detail, asked his companion if he had noticed anything unusual about the rendition of the orchestral piece. The friend replied that he had not and wondered what Toscanini had found unusual and noteworthy. Toscanini replied with an outstanding observation: “There should be fourteen violins in that orchestra.
When two outstanding organizations join together the results can be extraordinary. Such was the case when BVAC (Bergenfield Volunteer Ambulance Corp.) partnered with SINAI’s vocational program this past year, successfully placing a group of students whose commitment was inspiring.