UJIA Birthright and Norwood reunite for ‘Limitless’ trip to Israel

31 October 2013

Limitless represents everything that Norwood stands for and provides an opportunity for people with learning disabilities to connect with their Jewish identity by exploring their cultural roots through this fantastic Israel experience.

Eight young people have returned from ‘Limitless’, a unique and free 10 day trip to Israel, tailored for the support needs of young adults with learning and physical disabilities. UJIA Birthright, in partnership with Norwood, came together for a second year to enable the only trip of its kind from Europe to go ahead.

The group was led by a UJIA Israel Experience leader, an Israeli tour guide and a team of specialist Norwood staff and support workers. Together they toured Israel, visiting key sites including the Western Wall, Masada and Yad Vashem, all with specialist programming, accommodation and transport adapted for their needs, courtesy of Routes Travel, an Israel based tour operator.

The trip included sailing in Tel Aviv, a re-enactment in costume at Masada, swimming in the Dead Sea and a biking adventure at Rosh Hanikra, Israel’s northernmost coastal border. Participants also enjoyed a spiritual Shabbat weekend in Jerusalem, where many of the group took the opportunity to place notes with their own prayers or wishes in the cracks of the Western Wall.

Last year, the mainstream UJIA Birthright trip was adapted to cater for the needs of people with learning disabilities and physical disabilities. Following the success of this trip, the programme was further developed to provide participants with additional educational and communication resources. This enabled all the participants to access the programme and experience Israel in a way that supported the educational and sensory needs of the participants, whilst enhancing their Jewish knowledge and identity.

For the first time the group visited UJIA-supported community Kishorit, for adults with a variety of special needs, in the northern Galil. Modelled on a kibbutz, Kishorit provides a supportive environment for its members who live and work together, including the on-site vineyard, winery, pedigree dog kennel and organic goat dairy. Participants learnt about the Kibbutz system in Israel and formed friendships, whilst taking in this unique setting which helps people with similar special needs fulfil their potential.

The participants were also supported by Norwood’s Assistive Technology which provides person-centred solutions designed specifically to enable people with learning disabilities to carry out tasks they never would have thought possible. For one participant, Assistive Technology played a large role and was used in the form of switches to make choices and pre-recorded messages to aid communication. iPads with individual programmes were also invaluable to participants throughout the trip.

UJIA Chief Executive Michael Wegier said, "We are thrilled that Limitless has been such a success in its second year and that the participants had a meaningful and educational engagement with Israel. We are very pleased that the group had the opportunity to experience one of our supported communities, Kishorit, and be inspired by what can be achieved when we work together to give young people the opportunity to fulfil their potential."

Elaine Kerr, Norwood’s Chief Executive said, "Limitless represents everything that Norwood stands for and provides an opportunity for people with learning disabilities to connect with their Jewish identity by exploring their cultural roots through this fantastic Israel experience. We will continue to support these remarkable participants and others from Norwood to become proud, inspirational and contributing members of Anglo-Jewry."

Images courtesy of Flix’n’Pix Professional Photography