Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Everyday Heroes: What it feels like making nature accessible to all

Adi Cohen with a group of children at LOTEM-Making Nature Accessible. 

In concert with our most recent issue of B'Yachad celebrating Israel's heroes, we are bringing you stories that showcase inspirational men and women. If you want to become a hero too, support a hero

By Adi Cohen


Nearly two years have passed since I completed my national service as a guide with LOTEM in Jerusalem, but every time I return to guide a group, that amazing feeling of being part of something big comes back to me. LOTEM’s nature outings impact so many people with special needs, essentially giving them the ability to experience a sense of normalcy -- what they deserve as human beings who live in this beautiful world that surrounds us.


A little while ago, I guided a group of children with cerebral palsy from Haifa. Just getting off the bus into the verdant landscapes of Emek HaShalom -- which is flowering during this season after the winter rains -- lit up their faces. We had a picnic in the middle of nature: who would have thought there are children for whom this experience is so uncommon? The children prepared their own olive oil in the wheelchair-accessible oil press, spun the machine with such excitement and prepared clay lamps with great patience and dedication.

We ate wild mustard flowers -- the children didn't even think it could be possible to eat a flower you pick in nature!  So many activities that most of us would take for granted but turned the day into such a festive and special experience for these children. 

More on inclusivity

Moved and awe-inspired witnessing Israelis with special needs
How Israel weaves the disabled into its fabric

For me, this outing and these children were a ray of light in the middle of a routine week. The experience was a reminder to me what freedom is about and what we need to be so grateful for every day of the year.

Jewish National Fund partners with Lotem-Making Nature Accessible to ensure no member of Israeli society is left behind. 

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