Keren Shemesh offers a spring break for children with special needs

The five-day camp experience gives children with special needs the chance to hike, play and simply be kids.

Children with special needs from the Simcha Layeled association enjoy a performance by singer Benaia Barabi. Photo by Yehuda Ben Itach, KKL-KNF photo archive.
Children with special needs from the Simcha Layeled association enjoy a performance by singer Benaia Barabi. Photo by Yehuda Ben Itach, KKL-KNF photo archive.

Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael (KKL-JNF) and JNF-KKL Germany held a spring camp in Eilat in collaboration with Simcha Layeled, which is dedicated to improving the quality of life and social welfare of children with special needs and seriously ill children in Israel.

The camp was attended by about 850 campers with and without disabilities, along with the professional staff accompanied by social workers, medical teams, volunteers and KKL-JNF guides. The camp was held for five days with a variety of exciting activities: water sports, beach parties, a pajama party, a sunrise trip and more, along with a memorial ceremony for those who fell in the war.

The climax of the event was an exhilarating performance by singer Benaia Barabi, which was attended by the campers as well as evacuees residing in Eilat because of the Swords of Iron war.

Shaham Masori, 11, expressed excitement about going to the camp.

Playing a game during Keren Shemesh camp. Photo by Yehuda Ben Itach, KKL-KNF photo archive.

“I have a mentor who comes to me every week, and together we do lots of fun things. Once a month, we also go out for group activities that are always special and fun,” Masori said. “But now I’m mainly looking forward to the camp in Eilat! To talk to friends who are dealing with a chronic illness like me, to play cards, to be with the mentors, to hike and enjoy, there’s nothing like the Simcha Layeled! I feel like this is my second family.”

Odeya Bilig, who in charge of community initiatives, olim and special needs at KKL-JNF, said, “We at KKL-JNF are pleased to collaborate with the Simcha Layeled association. KKL-JNF operates extensively among populations with special needs, in a variety of integration activities within society. Particularly, in this challenging period, among evacuees with special needs. KKL-JNF will continue to invest and initiate comprehensive activities for the residents; it’s time to be united and contribute for the benefit of others.”

About 850 children participated in this year’s spring camp. Photo by Yehuda Ben Itach, KKL-KNF photo archive.

Eli Klarman, CEO of Simcha Layeled , stated, “We are happy and excited that the camp took place despite the challenging times we are all facing in Israel. For the children, this camp is so important and critical for their ongoing emotional support and is a fun break from their routine. We thank KKL-JNF Israel for their collaboration, we thank our friends and donors of JNF- KKL Germany for their support. Without all that, all these great things would not have happened.”

An activity for children with special needs from the Simcha Layeled association as part of the Keren Shemesh Camp, created by KKL-JNF in cooperation with KKL Germany. Photo by Noam Ben Shalom, KKL-JNF photo archive.
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Since its establishment in 1901, KKL-JNF has been developing the land of Israel, strengthening the bond between the Jewish people and its homeland. See more at: https://www.kkl-jnf.org/.
Simcha Layeled is a nonprofit organization in Israel that provides support to children with severe physical disabilities and normal cognitive capabilities. Their aim is to allow these children to overcome their disabilities and become contributing members of society. Simcha Layeled's various programs provide both the children and their families a wide range of activities and experiences to respond to their needs and replace suffering with smiles. The organization's activities include family support, camps in Israel and abroad for the children, and a group of adult volunteers that accompany the alumni of the association to enhance and ensure their independence.
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