The ALEH organization hosted its first Jerusalem march last week to increase public awareness of the disabled. Dubbed “ALEH Marches Forward,” the event was also intended to encourage integration of the disabled within the general community. (All Israel news photos: Meir Zarovsky and Yiftach Paltrowitz for www.yruas.com)
More than 300 participants marched across the Jerusalem Chords Bridge to support the cause. Among the marchers were a number of children with severe physical and cognitive disabilities currently under the care of ALEH.
The children and their families, caregivers, volunteers and friends from around the world were greeted by Israeli radio personality Menachem Toker, who served as Master of Ceremonies for the event.
Festivities were capped off with singing, dancing and a rousing address by Rabbi Yaakov Shapira, head of the Merkaz HaRav Yeshiva in central Jerusalem. More than 500 balloons were also released into the air to signify the buoyant spirit and unrestricted potential of Israel's disabled children.
"ALEH's goal is to enable each child, regardless of the severity of the disability, to realize his or her potential and live a quality life on par with the rest of society," explained Shlomit Grayevsky, founding director of ALEH Jerusalem and Assistant Director-General of the organization.
ALEH is Israel's largest network of residential facilities for children with severe physical and cognitive disabilities. The organization runs four residential centers in which 650 children from around the country receive high-level medical and rehabilitative care 24 hours a day, all year long.