In 1998, when Adi Altschuler was 12, she decided, like many Israeli preteens, to spend some of her time volunteering for her community. She contacted an NGO that serves children with physical disabilities, and began mentoring Kobi Kfir, a 3-year-old with cerebral palsy. It was a life-changing relationship: Never before acquainted with children with special needs, Adi suddenly realized how many privileges she had taken entirely for granted were not available to her disabled peers. At 16, she decided to address that problem, founding Krembo Wings, a youth movement that brought together children with and without disabilities and allowed everyone, no matter his or her physical or mental needs, to enjoy after-school activities and make new friends.
Now, 16 years later, Krembo Wings has 65 branches where more than 6,000 children meet weekly. And this week, the organization received another honor when it was named Special Adviser to the United Nations’ Economic and Social Council. This means that the organization is recognized as one of the best in the world at integrating children of all ability levels, and could now share its model and advise other groups all over the world with the U.N.’s imprimatur.
“The special international recognition the movement received from the U.N.,” said the organization’s CEO, Talia Bajerano, “will allow Krembo Wings to raise awareness to the rights of disabled young people in Israel and all over the world to have a fulfilling social life. This new recognition will allow us to expand and to share around the world our unique integrative approach and our vision, which is to work together to make sure every person has their own place and their sense of meaning.”