A team from the Education Center at Schneider Children’s recently visited the area of the tsunami disaster in Japan and provided therapy to children who were injured a year ago.
The visit was initiated by the Israeli Ambassador in Tokyo, Japan, and funded by the Foreign Ministry’s Division of Cultural and Scientific Affairs and Schneider Children’s.
Maskit Shochat, Director of the Educational Center at Schneider Children’s, and Daniella Hadassi, a drama therapist who treats children at the hospital through ventriloquy, worked with groups of children in two elementary schools in southern Sendai, the area hardest hit by the tsunami.
Therapeutic ventriloquy fulfils a number of roles: the puppet or doll is silly and funny, and aims to counteract pain, divert thoughts and bring a smile, alongside dialogue that evolves between the child and the doll which encourages him to speak about his troubles.
Daniella took her puppet dog Chico with her to Japan, through whom she spoke to the children. The activity for the children centered on therapy with hand puppets that were prepared beforehand by the staff in the Educational Center at Schneider. Each child received his own doll and added items as he wished thus creating a uniquely personal hand puppet.
The experience was empowering: after starting the activity with Chico, each child joined in with his own puppet thus allowing him to touch and express emotional feelings connected to the tragedy. The team also gave lectures to therapists in the schools, to families, and to educators treating children who lived through the tragedy.
The staff in the Educational Center at Schneider Children’s has broad experience dealing with children under stress in the hospital following illness, injury or trauma. The Center works under the aegis of the Ministry of Education and comprises about 30 special education teachers and therapists who assist hospitalized children in such areas as completion of study material, preparation for matriculation exams, enrichment activities and more.
Each inpatient department has a classroom for a variety of activities. Experienced educators utilize a broad range of tools to help the child to develop and learn where study is not only a daily and regular habit but also therapeutic for the hospitalized child.
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