A Unique Program for Children with Special Needs
The Hand in Hand Program has two components: a free after-school program for children with special needs, as well as a scholarship fund for economically disadvantaged families caring for children with special needs. Our after-school program provides children with special needs with an opportunity to socialize, learn new skills, and have fun. One of the biggest challenges for children with special needs is to find appropriate programs that provide the support they need as well as opportunities to expand their world in a safe and fun environment.
Hand in Hand offers activities such as music therapy, arts and crafts, play, and structured social interaction with other children, both with and without special needs. The program is built around three main components: music therapy, hands-on activities, and community service. We serve both children and young adults with special needs, ages seven and above. Hand in Hand is run by Cantor Marcelo Gindlin, who holds an MA in Music Therapy; Lisa Szilagyi, a special education teacher in the Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District; and Janet Hirsh Ettenger, BFA and RN.
Making friends is essential to every child. Children with special needs often have few opportunities to create and maintain friendships. Our program pairs children with special needs with their peers, to help them nurture friendships that will enrich their lives. The peers that participate in this program receive specific training and guidance.
Every week we develop creative and engaging programming for the children that is both entertaining and educational. Our activities are a platform for social interaction, an opportunity to learn new skills, and above all fun for the participants.
Cooking: Each week we prepare a different snack, choosing recipes that are fun to make and eat.
Crafts: Our crafts are designed to be fun and creative, and provide a chance to use fine motor skills. Many of our crafts are chosen to complement our community service program. We have made dog toys for the Guide Dogs of America, and activity books to put in the SOVA waiting room.
Music: We start and end each week with music, which is a favorite activity for all of our participants. Singing and making music brings us together.
Community service: Tikkun Olam, repairing the world, makes us whole again. When we reach out to others, we also reach within ourselves and grow as individuals and as a community. All of the children in our program participate in community service projects such as our support of the SOVA community food bank.
Bar/Bat Mitzvah Program
Hand in Hand accepts all children, regardless of their faith or affiliation. For our Jewish children who would like a Bar or Bat Mitzvah, we will also provide the opportunity to prepare for a creative and meaningful ceremony. Each Bar or Bat Mitzvah ceremony is tailored to meet the individual needs of the child and the family, and allows them to celebrate an important milestone in their life.
The Hand in Hand Scholarship Fund
The Hand in Hand scholarship fund was established with the purpose of providing financial assistance to families in need of extra resources to care for their children with special needs. The fund will be managed and disbursed pursuant to protocol established and administered by a committee made up of persons with expertise in helping families with special needs, directors from the Hand in Hand program and others, with secondary oversight by the MJC&S Board. The Hand in Hand Benefit Concert in Spring 2011 is our first opportunity to secure funding for the newly established scholarship component of Hand in Hand.
Your Contribution and the Future of Hand in Hand
Since Hand in Hand launched in Fall 2010, we have seen a strong and creative program take flight. We are focused on expanding the program to serve more children and families who are in need, as well as developing a secondary program with a social focus tailored specifically for children and young adults who have less severe special needs- but their own unique challenges.
The establishment of the Hand in Hand Scholarship Fund will provide assistance for families of children with special needs who are facing financial hurdles. Therapy, medical equipment, wheelchairs and other assistance will be provided based on the recommendations of an expert committee.
Your contribution to Hand in Hand will ensure that we can continue to offer this unique, free program to the special needs community in and around Malibu for years to come. Funds collected will go towards overhead expenses for running the program and towards establishing the Hand in Hand Scholarship Fund, and can be directed as desired.
Please contact Hand in Hand for more information at 310-456-2178.
Hand in Hand singing ‘Count Me In’ Hand in Hand Picture Montage