Special Needs, Special Mission: The Jewish Federation Sponsors Trip To Cutting-edge Israeli Programs For Adults With Developmental Disabilities

Jul 17, 2012, 14:45 ET from The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES, July 17, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- More than 35 leaders of the disability rights community in California are embarking on a seven-day mission to Israel, July 20-27th, sponsored by The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, to share best practices, service models and strategies with professionals working on cutting-edge programs for adults with developmental disabilities.

The first trip of its kind, this high-level delegation of professionals in the field, accompanied by parent activists and young adults with autistic spectrum disorders (ASD), is expected to profoundly impact programs for the growing population of special needs adults for years to come – both in Los Angeles and in Israel.

Participants will meet with Israeli experts and parent activists in innovative residential and vocational programs throughout the country, with the goal of replicating some of the models in Los Angeles. Some of the highlights will include:

  • Kishorit, a kibbutz/integrative community of 140 staff, volunteers and adults with mental/developmental disabilities which has numerous micro-enterprises on site
  • Center for Independent Living in Beer Sheva, a community-based multi-service resource designed, managed and operated by the disabled, for the disabled
  • A half-day conference, under the auspices of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), for experts, educators and parents in Israel to exchange best practices with the Los Angeles delegation
  • Israeli Defense Forces representatives will share how they have successfully integrated young adults with autism into military service

Throughout the mission, Israeli professionals and parents will join with and experience the programs with members of the Los Angeles delegation.  Additionally, the young adults with ASD will be providing their feedback and ideas on all aspects of the trip.

"Today's Federation has made addressing the challenges of people with special needs a top priority," said Jay Sanderson, President & CEO of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles. "As part of our ongoing partnership and commitment to the State of Israel, we are excited to bring together worldwide leaders in the field of developmental disabilities to make a positive impact on the lives of our respective community members."

The mission is being co-chaired by Judy Mark, Government Relations Chair of the Autism Society of Los Angeles and Michelle K. Wolf, writer of the "Jews and Special Needs" blog for The Jewish Journal.

"As our children with developmental disabilities become young adults, we realize that we need to create many new programs that will maximize their independence in safe and nurturing environments," stated Wolf, "This trip to Israel will kick-start that process."

"The number of adults with autism and other developmental disabilities is increasing dramatically over the next decade, and Los Angeles does not have enough programs and housing to serve them," added Mark. "We hope that we can take what we find in Israel to create new models in our community."

Upon their return, the mission participants will join with other leaders in Los Angeles to form an implementation task force to explore creating new programs in the community for adults with disabilities.  For more information on the mission or to follow the blogs of members of the mission, go to http://special-needs-mission-to-israel.posterous.com/.

Based on Jewish values, The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles convenes and leads the community and leverages its resources to assure the continuity of the Jewish people, support a secure State of Israel, care for Jews in need here and abroad, and mobilize on issues of concern to the local community, all with our local, national, and international partners. For more information, visit www.JewishLA.org.

SOURCE The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles