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      Innovators in Disability Services Win 2012 Ruderman Prize

      The Ruderman Foundation has announced its selection of 10 winners of its 2012 Prize in Disability. Four are Israeli organizations.
      By Chana Ya'ar
      First Publish: 6/14/2012, 1:44 PM

      Jay Ruderman
      Jay Ruderman
      Courtesy of Ruderman Foundation

      The Ruderman Foundation has announced its selection of its inaugural year's ten winners of its 2012 Prize in Disability. The award is presented to those who foster full inclusion of people with disabilities in Jewish communities around the globe.

      Four of this year's ten winners are Israeli organizations: AKIM Israel, the National Association for the Habilitation of Children and Adults with Intellectual Disabilities; the Reishit School in Gush Etzion's Kibbutz Rosh Tzurim; SHALVA: The Association for the Mentally & Physically Challenged Children in Israel; and Vertigo Dance Company of Israel.

      "These ten award winners offer a vision of a world with full inclusion, where people with disabilities have the same opportunities for employment, education, religion, and enjoyment of their communities as those without disabilities,” said Jay Ruderman, president of the Ruderman Family Foundation. “These grants will nourish and nurture that vision.

      "In this first year of the Ruderman Prize in Disability we are tremendously encouraged by the high number of candidates from among so many outstanding organizations and the fine record of achievement they each represent,” he added.

      "We are convinced that this annual award will serve to support and encourage new opportunities for individuals with disabilities and to expand horizons. Full inclusion for all people with disabilities is a priority of our foundation and we will continue to find creative ways to promote and sustain this effort.”

      Each winning organization is to receive a grant of $20,000 to continue its work. The foundation received more than 150 applications for funding from seven countries around the world in response to its first request for proposals (RFP) this year.

      Arutz Sheva went to the graduation at Reishit Elementary School in Gush Etzion to see how inclusion works in this strongly Zionist  and religious school. The eighth graders, including some with special needs, all acted together in the class play, which was about how being different is special - a Down's Syndrome student performed a solo dance - and when called up to get their diplomas, two students held up a friend who was incapable of walking alone and accompanied him to the stage as if it were the most natural thing in the world. At the end, they all swayed from side to side with their arms around one another, singing the school song, whose chorus, unsurprisingly, is: 

      Because here time does't rush by, no one is different and no one is left out

      And you can stay here the way you are .

      Being G-d fearing is the basis of all learning, so

      You are invited to touch, to deepen your roots, to start from the beginning

      [reishit, the name of the school, means beginning, ed,]

      If you are a new immigrant and want to send  your child to Reishit, Nefesh B'Nefesh describes it here:http://www.nbn.org.il/aliyahpedia/schools-a-higher-education/education-childteen/2014-reishit.html