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Breaking Barriers at School

31 May 2023

Attitudes towards people with learning disabilities are changing at Immanuel College thanks to a hugely-successful Kisharon disability awareness programme, and there are hopes other schools may follow Immanuel’s lead.

The brainchild behind the programme was Rabbi Yoni Golker, Deputy Head at Immanuel College – himself a Kisharon volunteer as a young adult – who devised a social action project for his year 9 cohort. The 14-year-olds were invited to select a Jewish charity to adopt, among them Kisharon as well as Jewish Care, Gift and Maccabi GB.

Kisharon’s Daniel and his support worker David, above, came to Immanuel College in Bushey, to talk to the group of 17 who chose Kisharon.  Students asked Daniel about life with a disability, were curious about his daily routine and questioned David about his job supporting Daniel. The pupils also watched a video showing the opportunities available to Kisharon people.

One week later, Immanuel College students came to Kisharon for activities, including playing bingo and other games and music. Finally they were invited to give feedback on Kisharon – one gave feedback in easy read – and explain what the social action programme had taught them.

One pupil wrote: “It was a meaningful experience and destigmatized and showed the incredible abilities and achievements of people with disabilities.” He added: “The carers were so lovely and it really showed us how much they do and how hard they work to create a fun and lively environment.”

Although the project was supported throughout by many Kisharon staff, the project facilitator was Community Inclusion Coordinator Rachel Ucko, who said: “This was a fantastic initiative, and I hope word will get round and it will be taken up by other schools. I hope too that the experiences of these pupils will stay with them throughout their lives.”

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Pirkei Avos
“The world stands on three things: Torah, the service of G-d, and deeds of kindness.” Kisharon looks at the person not the disability, teaching Torah, Middos and Mitzvot embracing and cherishing everybody’s special talent and bringing out the best in them.