On May 1, the 8th grade students from the Solomon Schechter Day School of Bergen County (SSDS) arrived for a visit at ALYN Hospital, bringing to a close a year-long collaboration between SSDS and the PELE track of ALYN’s Innovation Space.

PELE, made up of professional staff and volunteer “makers," provides case-driven, personalized, affordable solutions for children of all backgrounds, from Israel and around the world, who face physical challenges to independence in their day-to-day activities – such as eating, dressing, maintaining personal hygiene, communicating, studying and being mobile.

The initiative has followed a curriculum based on project-based learning, built around themes of inclusion, empathy and innovation. With the guidance from ALYN Hospital’s team at PELE and support from SSDS’ design thinking and innovation lab teachers, the students were given the option of designing solutions for individual patients at ALYN based on actual requests that PELE had received.

Three groups of students took on the challenge of creating solutions for children at ALYN as their Science Fair project. The first group was tasked with building a lunch tray that could be attached to crutches; the second group, a Chutes & Ladders game board made accessible to a boy who had recently become blind; the third, a way for a young girl without a hand to hold onto her tricycle handlebar.

Over the course of the past few months, the students were in contact with the team at PELE for clarification and feedback about their projects. After the SSDS Science Fair, the students also presented their projects to a panel consisting of an occupational therapist, a physical therapist and a manufacturer of prosthetics for feedback. The SSDS teachers, parents and the professionals were all blown away by the students’ creativity, innovation and thoughtfulness in creating the solutions for children at ALYN.

In the months leading up to the Science Fair, the students raised awareness to the school community about ALYN and undertook collecting tzedakah, which was presented to the ALYN staff when the students visited the hospital. We are so appreciative of their efforts and will be placing a plaque in their honor on our Mitzvah of Love donor wall at the hospital.

Heading into the second week of the 8th graders trip to Israel, they stopped at ALYN Hospital. After a warm welcome by ALYN and American Friends of ALYN staff, the students had a brief tour of the hospital, engaged in a short activity, and then were led to the Innovation Space. Once there, the three groups presented prototypes of their solutions, which had been shipped to ALYN ahead of time:


Lunch Tray for Crutches


Adapted Tricycle Accessory


3D Chutes & Ladders

The main goal of the Education Initiative is to educate a younger generation about ALYN through meaningful engagement. It is clear that this goal was reached, and we look forward to continuing our partnership with SSDS for years to come!

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