Campers Go Out On The Town
As the girls entered the LifeTown Shoppes they were flabbergasted. “I’m in Disneyland right now,” called out Hadassah Elishis, a ninth grader from Los Angeles who was assigned to the pet store. “I get to play with dogs?” She could not believe it. “You guys do such incredible work here.”
The group was Impact Girls, a summer partnership camp between NCSY and Camp Kaylie for girls from 5th through ninth grades. They were spending part of their Day of Chesed at LifeTown. With no participants on site July 14, the group was divided in two so they could experience LifeTown together. Older girls ran the shops. Younger girls did the shopping. They were amazed.
“It’s so special,” said Bella Uretsky, a ninth grader from Los Angeles. “It really gives people who otherwise wouldn’t have a chance to do these everyday experiences.”
“It’s a real-life lesson here,” said ninth grader Ora Ryzman. “It’s so much better than having someone fidgeting in the corner. Here you get to be the star of the show!”
Some of the girls have participated in Friendship Circle groups in their home towns. Few had seen what a facility like LifeTown can offer.
Kelly Friedman, a counselor from Brooklyn was raised with Friendship Circle at home – her father helped start the Brooklyn chapter. LifeTown has been on her list of places to visit for a while and she was thrilled to finally see the facility in person. “Everyone needs to come here. It really hits home for me that there’s an opportunity for individuals who have special needs to experience life before going into the world. Just being in the playground before, my heart felt something.”
The girls had plenty of time to spend in the flower shop, eating ice cream, even having their hair or nails done by peers. Before long, they were also riding bikes in the “street,” and their crossing guard (of course another camper) was careful to keep everyone safe.
A few were excited for the activities. “They are legit doing hair!” called one in the salon. But all understood the impact that LifeTown is having. “This is really cool. I like how they make it very responsive to people. Everyone fits in here,” concluded Michal Mikhli, a seventh grader from Brooklyn.