Hand in Hand

NJCD/Yachad’s Yad B’Yad, a truly unique Israel experience for both young adults with special needs and their typically-developing teenage peers, began this past week. The program began with an orientation for the typically-developing high school students to prepare them for the incredible journey ahead. During the five-day orientation, these high school students had the opportunity to physically experience what it would be like to have a disability, to talk about what it might feel like to have special needs, and to come to a new appreciation of Hashem’s gifts and challenges. There were many exciting team-building activities that the teenagers enjoyed, which also gave them the opportunity to bond as a group. A singular scavenger hunt called the “Go Game,” specifically designed for this group, was one of those activities. It took place in the streets of Albany, where each group was given a camera and a set of clues and had to report back with all their “finds”. Participants found the program refreshingly different while it helped to form the bonds that it was meant to create. In the end, the participants left the program having learned tolerance and patience for other people of all types- not just for people with disabilities, but for all. Kudos to Nicole Bodner, Rebecca Schrag and Aaron Cohen for running this incredible program.