The Chimes Israel Rubenenko Campus in Tel Aviv Launches a Renovated Outdoor Recreational Space
Thanks to a generous grant from Philip Morris International and the Keren Shalem Foundation, 190 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities at the Chimes Israel Rubenenko Campus in Tel Aviv, can now glide through the air on new adult swings in a serene tree-shaded recreational area.
The area was previously fenced off due to incompliance with recent safety and accessibility requirements. The renovation consisted of levelling off the area, adding a recycled rubber substrate synthetic grass surface and installing two new adult swings. The area now has a wood border as well as a cement ramp with metal railing. The Standards Institute inspected the area and approved it for use.
On inauguration day, the participants entered the area with unabashed excitement. Constantly floating on the swings and lounging on the grass, the Center participants have kept it occupied every day since.
“The renovation not only provides the clients with the sensory experience of a new way to move their bodies, but the tree-shaded area with its new artificial grass is a natural place for people to congregate and socialize.” said Mike Salem, Chimes Israel’s Vice President and Administrative Director.
“The area has provided an opportunity for people with disabilities to have more control over their environment, which is one of Chimes Israel’s priorities,” said Chir Hocherman, Chimes Israel’s Knowledge Manager. “For example, for people with limited ability to communicate, being pushed on a swing is an opportunity for verbal or non-verbal communication with the pusher, to indicate whether they want to go faster, slower, higher, lower or stop the swing.”
Chimes is also using the area for therapy. For people with sensory issues, a swing has the soothing ability to calm anxieties. The therapists are very successfully using the swings to calm a participant with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) from his violent sensory overload outbursts.
Another client, who has cortical visual impairment due to cerebal palsy, delights in the swing’s movement and motion because it actually enables him to see better. Often people with this condition need an object to move to know it’s there. Movement in a swing creates the same effect.
“The clients tend to spend most of their waking hours at our center,” said Hocherman. “Because of that, it is our mandate to do everything possible to provide them with as many experiences as possible.” She added that in addition to the enriching daily activities and therapies Chimes offers, the area is a safe environment for people who are largely sheltered from the world to have new gratifying, relaxing and social experiences.