The band that inspired thousands of people around the globe with their viral video clip is embarking on a world tour, to perform in cities across three continents.
The Shalva Band is composed of eight adults with disabilities; including Down syndrome, Autism, and various physical handicaps. Their talent and moving performances have merited awards and international recognition. The band will be traveling, among other places, to New York, Toronto, Mexico, and London, representing Israel and people with disabilities at dozens of cultural events.
"When the band was established over ten years ago, it was merely an expansion of Shalva's music therapy program," Shalva Band Director Shai Ben-Shushan explained. "Today, the Shalva band has become an international icon for inclusion and a real example of the amazing things that can happen when you empower people's abilities and believe in their potential."
"This is a message that everyone can relate to, whether or not they have disabilities."
Shai Ben-Shushan established the Shalva Band as a personal rehabilitative mission to give back to the community following his recovery from a serious injury sustained while serving in the IDF. The band performs several times a week, at times alongside music celebrities, and recently released a CD. Their band also focuses on honing fine motor skills, discipline, and social and communication skills.
The Shalva Band has prepared special musical renditions in English in advance of this tour, and will be accompanied by a music therapist and social worker as part of the band's support staff. For some of the band members, traveling abroad will mean leaving their families for the first time and contending with unfamiliar cultures and languages.
"I could never have dreamed that our children would be performing before live audiences of hundreds of people abroad," Shalva Founder and President Kalman Samuels said.
"On the other hand, it doesn't surprise me because at Shalva we truly believe in every person's potential and in celebrating everyone's unique abilities. In a way, this amazing world tour is simply what we've been doing all along."
Shalva was founded in 1990 by Kalman and Malki Samuels as a result of their personal experiences raising their son Yossi, rendered blind and deaf in addition to other disabilities due to an injury during his infancy. Today the organization serves 2,000 children with disabilities and their families through a variety of therapeutic, educational, and recreational programs and services.
The Shalva National center, located in Jerusalem, is the largest and most advanced center for disability care and inclusion in Israel.