Wheels and attire

When the wheelchair becomes part of the Purim costume

A project at Beit Issie Shapiro matches industrial design students with children with disabilities to create ingenious holiday outfits

Jessica Steinberg covers the Sabra scene from south to north and back to the center.

Yarden, a pleased fairy in her sparkling costumed wheelchair at Beit Issie Shapiro (Courtesy Beit Issie Shapiro)
Yarden, a pleased fairy in her sparkling costumed wheelchair at Beit Issie Shapiro (Courtesy Beit Issie Shapiro)

Purim costumes can be complicated matters for kids with disabilities who use a wheelchair or a walker.

But a special initiative with industrial design students from the Holon Institute of Technology at Raanana’s Beit Issie Shapiro, a nonprofit offering therapies and services for children and adults with disabilities, helped create costumes that incorporated kids’ assistive devices into the design of their costumes.

This year, there’s a Batman in his Batmobile, a fairy sitting in a sparkling flower, a rainbow on top of a cloud and a deejay spinning discs among the more than 30 children outfitted by the 40 students participating in the project.

“It’s challenging to find a costume for a child without a disability, but for a child with a physical disability it’s nearly impossible due to the accessories that they use,” said parent Micha Grunberg. “Amazing initiatives like this one make such a difference to our children and and build the costumes of their dreams.”

Batman and his Batmobile, courtesy of design students from Holon Institute of Technology (Courtesy Beit Issie Shapiro)

It was student Inbar Amir’s third year participating in the project, which is part of an initiative at the Holon Institute of Technology that combines design and technology for the purpose of helping kids with special needs at various institutions.

“What’s easy is the desire to work with them and the inspiration that they offer,” said Amir. “Their reactions are great. What’s hard is that communication can sometimes be difficult and you have to figure out how to fit a costume that will incorporate the chair or walker.”

This wheelchair was turned into a Coca-Cola delivery truck (Courtesy Beit Issie Shapiro)

This year, Amir worked on a costume for Yarden Ofer, an eight-year-old with cerebral palsy who wanted to be a fairy, and uses a wheelchair.

“I figured out that I could make the whole wheelchair into a special fairy chair that sparkles,” said Amir.

The entire process was something of a revelation for Amir.

“It makes me realize that my studies are not necessarily just for learning how to make nice things for peoples’ homes, but to make things that have an impact on people,” she said. “It’s a mindset that what we design can help change peoples’ lives.”

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