One of Israel’s largest disability groups inaugurated a new $54 million headquarters on Thursday in Jerusalem meant to serve as a community and sports center for the disabled.
The Shalva National Center “is the largest and most advanced facility for children with disabilities in the world,” Shalva said in a statement ahead of the Thursday morning launch ceremony.
While located in western Jerusalem, “it serves people with disabilities of all ages, religions and ethnicities free of charge.”
The facility includes an accessible semi-Olympic hydrotherapy pool, a fitness room with specialized equipment and a 400-seat auditorium, the group said. It will also be home to “Jerusalem’s first public inclusive playground with disability accessible installations” and municipal preschools geared to serving children with disabilities.
Shalva, founded in 1990, provides services to people with a wide range of disabilities and advocates for greater inclusion of the disabled in Israeli society.
The dedication was attended by Israeli Olympic judoka Or Sasson, who started a judo school for children with disabilities at the center, Mayor Nir Barkat, Welfare Minister Haim Katz and philanthropists from overseas.
“The center’s cutting-edge therapy facilities have enabled Shalva to bring cutting-edge technology and therapy solutions to Israel for the first time,” the organization said. “Thousands of children with disabilities and their families participate in rehabilitative therapy, inclusive education, vocational training and recreational activities on a daily basis.”