'They're learning to accept those who are different'

Gush Etzion principal says mainstreamed classrooms create healthy relationships, don't place students in roles of 'giver' and 'taker.'

Shimon Cohen ,

Students
Students
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After a survey showed most Israelis believe special needs children need to be taught in separate schools, "Reishit" school principal Yifat Yigal said integrating special needs students proves beneficial to both the students with special needs and other students.

The survey was published on Sunday by "Akim," an Israeli organization for the habilitation of children and adults with cognitive challenges.

MK Karin Elharrar (Yesh Atid) called Reishit's integration model is "the ideal integration model."

Yigal said, "If I am not mistaken, this survey is better than the previous one. I am happy that our society is slowly learning to accept those who are different from them. I hope more and more people will see how beneficial this is to personal growth and development, and learn to live with those who are different than themselves.

"In Reishit, every class has a few children who have special needs, some are paralyzed, some autistic, and there are students with other difficulties as well. The happiness, giving, and mutual responsibility our students develop is heartwarming."

"Reishit" is a Gush Etzion school which mainstreams special needs children into regular classrooms. It was founded by parents and students who believe both disabled students and their non-special needs classmates benefit from an integrated classroom with a regular curriculum, which provides for the needs of every student.

"Integrating these students requires flexibility and creativity, as well as an open heart and a positive view of people. Reishit's unique integration model creates a place where children learn and play, naturally learning to live with those who are different from them and how each person plays a unique role in society.

"Our students foster relationships based on mutuality, there is no 'giver' and 'taker.' This integration is a specialty in itself, and we are happy to share our knowledge and experience with anyone interested in order to help advance this important goal."

Currently, 560 students are enrolled in the school, which serves grades 1-8. Ninety of these students have special needs: some have Down Syndrome, some are paralyzed, some suffer from autism, others are cognitively challenged, and there are students with other issues as well.



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