Jordan River Village: Medicine Through Fun & Friendship

Hundreds of children who are coping with some 25 chronic, life-threatening diseases can simply be children

ynet |
Published: 02.08.21 , 14:35
The Jordan River Village is a unique and the only holiday village in the State of Israel, which operates throughout the year in vacation cycles providing an experience and fun for hundreds of children who are coping with some 25 chronic, life-threatening diseases and their families, without any cost for the children and their families and it is a place where Jewish, Christian, Druze, Circassian, Bedouin and Muslim children aged 9-18 can simply be children.
The village enables every boy or girl to have a magical vacation of 3 to 5 days, full of wonderful experiences, accompanied by a professional team and with full medical support. All of the facilities in the village are accessible, including an adventure park with a 150 meter long omega, which has been especially adapted for children in wheel chairs and those who are intubated, a swimming pool that enables the children to enter the water independently on a wheelchair, accessible playgrounds, bows and arrows, a theater, a wide range of workshops and hobby sessions, horse riding, dogs, a petting corner and more. Since the village was opened in August 2011, more than 12,953 children and 4,617 family members have been hosted in 314 vacation cycles.

The village's activities include a number of innovative educational aspects, which are spread over all of the activities in the village, and which are intended to strengthen the children's feeling of being capable, to improve their perception of the disease and to strengthen their social skills, during their relatively short and intensive stay in the village.
The educational activity in the village is focused on the children themselves and not on their illness. The objectives of the village's activities are – fun and enjoyment, experiencing success, socialization and receiving an opportunity to discover a world of new content and skills.
It has been seen in measurement and assessment research work that the village has performed over the years that a stay in the village, in combination with the wonderful work by the team of guidance counselors during the stay improves the quality of the children's lives significantly and it also makes the processes involved in their illness easier for them. We have very encouraging data, which are up to date as of July 2020, from research work done by Dr. Oksana Nir, who has made an in depth analysis of 189 questionnaires, which were filled in at 3 different points in time (the first day of the vacation, the end of the vacation and 3 months after the vacation).
The activity in the village is made possible thanks to our wonderful team, in combination with some 1,000 volunteers, each year (medical teams, social counselors, social workers and others), 20 young people who volunteer for a year after high-school and those doing national service, who form the basis for the guidance in the village.
Despite these kids being no strangers to isolation, these days of global pandemic it is different, if they do not practice strict social distancing their lives may be at risk. That is why the Village's programs are more important now than ever— our campers still have a place to thrive socially and emotionally while fostering the resiliency they need to continue to manage their illness successfully.
Even though the Village was hit hard by the global pandemic due to the need to cancel camp sessions, our agile staff, committed volunteers, and generous donors enabled us to turn lemons into lemonade. We were able to be innovative and quickly respond to our community by providing a combination of online, off-campus, and limited on-campus programs.
By cutting back 37% of our budget to help overcome these hard times without giving up on our mission and reinventing our camp experience with the new outreach umbrella of programs "JRV on wheels" we fell we are on the right track.
The Village is a proud member of Paul Newman’s SeriousFun Children’s Network—a global community of camps serving children with serious illnesses and their families.
Chaim Topol was one of the main initiators of the Jordan river village, leading the board since 2002 and as of January 2020 has been appointed president of the Jordan river village board.
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