In 1990, when Kalman Samuels asked the local authorities for a facility for afternoon programs for children with handicaps, he was offered a windowless bomb shelter, two flights underground. “Why do such children need any more than that?” he was asked.Firmly believing that “such children” deserved not only no less but more than regular children, he and Malky dreamed of a state-of-the-art center for mentally and physically challenged children that would instill pride in those who came through its doors.
From its inception in June 1990, Shalva was housed in one duplex apartment and then two, as it grew in numbers. The Samuels’ dream center became a reality in 1998 with the opening of the seven-story Shalva Children’s Center – Beit Nachshon, named in memory of Nachshon Wachsman, who in 1994, as a soldier, was kidnapped, held hostage and murdered by terrorists. Nachshon used to regularly pick up his younger brother Raphael who has
Downs, from Shalva.
Jerusalem Forest (see picture below), each floor of the seven story center is color-coded and decorated in colorful motifs, transforming the building into a veritable wonderland for the senses. This dream facility was built by parents of a special needs child who were determined to give the very best to all challenged children.
There is a hydrotherapy swimming pool to help strengthen weak and atrophied muscles, a multi-sensory room, the first of its kind in
Jerusalem, touch-sensitive computers with educational software, a multi-purpose recreation facility for dancing, singing and psychodrama, a proven tool for helping children achieve fuller self expression. There is an overnight respite center that gives children a chance to sleep over on a regular basis and learn independent living skills, and gives their parents an extended break from the stress of raising a special needs child at home.