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Families Marginalized by Disability Find Warm Welcome at Tower of David

(Photo: Jack Hazut)

When parents of special needs children want to explore museums with their children, sometimes they worry about whether their child will fit in. But now these families have a place to go that hosts inclusive events for children with special needs and their families. The Tower of David in Jerusalem is leading the way for these specialized family programs.

To be sure, museums do not purposely exclude families with children with special needs. Their family programs are open to all, but in reality, families with children with disabilities rarely show up because they just don’t fit in.

However, Markowitz and her family had a wonderful time recently on two occasions at the Tower of David Museum in the Old City of Jerusalem. For both the Purim and Passover holidays this spring, the museum ran programs exclusively for families with children with physical, emotional and developmental disabilities.

There were art projects, games, puppet shows, imaginative play and other sorts of activities one would expect at holiday programs for families. The difference was that in this case, the museum was closed to the general public and everything was adjusted to meet the needs of both the children with special needs, and those of their neurotypical siblings.

While such specialized family programs are quite common in the US and UK, it is only now that Israeli cultural institutions — with The Tower of David Museum leading the way — are tuning in to the requirements of this particular audience sector.

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