|An Israeli First: A Guidebook for Bus Escorts for Children with Disabilities|
|Written by Ruby Ong|
For the past four years, SHATIL and the David Yellin College of Education in Jerusalem have collaborated on a unique venture: bringing together people with disabilities and education students, and training them to become agents for social change. One of the aims is for the participants to develop initiatives based on their needs and those of the populations they represent. A byproduct of the program is the creation of new friendships and the challenging of stereotypes.
Last month, the college and SHATIL sponsored an upbeat, optimistic evening dedicated to presenting projects developed by the newly trained activists. Among the projects presented was one promoting social accessibility for the disabled on Jerusalem busses; an organic plant nursery that employs people with emotional disabilities; and a workshop on couple relations for people with disabilities.
One special project, initiated, planned and completed during the training, is the publication of a guidebook for bus escorts for children with disabilities. Many problems have occurred on the busses, including ones that pose a hazard to the children, and numerous complaints are received about the low level of care provided by the escorts. A guidebook such as this was clearly much needed.
The booklet was written by the students with help from the Alyn Hospital. It was the idea of Yael Gil Bar, who as a disabled child experienced many difficulties on the school bus. It emphasizes the importance of the escorts' roles in the lives of the children; contains tips for problem-solving and for making travel easier; and emphasizes the importance of maintaining contact with teachers and parents. The guidebook follows a training course for bus escorts run by the David Yellin College last summer.