by Special JNF Correspondent Sarina Roffé
Haruvit Forest | Ben Shemen Forest | Menash Forest Park | Beit Keshet Forest
Shimshit Forest | Lake Hula Bird Observatory
Just a few decades ago curb cuts and other modifications for the disabled were considered revolutionary. But as curb cuts in the sidewalks and ramps to buildings have slowly appeared, their usefulness has been widespread, not only for the wheelchair bound, but also for mothers walking children in strollers, bike riders, senior citizens who can walk but need a flat surface, and other populations.
Jewish National Fund has met the challenge by designing facilities such as parks, picnic areas, playgrounds, leisure corners, nature trails, lookouts and other recreational facilities in Israel - that meet the needs of everyone, including the physically challenged.
For example, picnic tables and barbecue installations are built and placed to suit wheelchairs and special playground and sport structures have been installed. Projects for the visually challenged have explanatory signs in Braille and landscaping focuses on aromatic plants, whose strong aroma heightens the sensory experience. Nature trails are paved for easier access for the wheelchair bound as well as strategically placed rest rooms. These developments have opened many new recreational opportunities in nature for challenged individuals.
“This was the first time I was able to walk through the forest with my children. Until now, I could only go four or five meters away from my car. This is the first place that I was able to actually go in nature and appreciate its natural vistas,” said Gil Amzalag, a visitor to the forest from Kfar Baruh who is confined to a wheelchair.
These are just some of the sites which have been made suitable for the physically challenged population and yet others are in the process of being improved and adapted. At some of the sites, JNF arranges guided tours and events from time to time. Other projects of Jewish National Fund that are accessible include the Hadassah Picnic Site, Adamit Park, Sapir Park, Goren Park, and Terebinths and Ein Zeitim Picnic Sites.
JNF is also beginning construction of Aleh Negev Rehabilitative Village for People with Special Needs, the first village for children in need of intense nursing care to live in a beautiful, peaceful, open environment, rather than in a hospital ward.