PROJECTS | Community Development

Accessible Playground in Kiryat Malachi

In new-immigrant city of Kiryat Malachi, in the northern Negev, close to Ashdod, live over 140 children with disabilities requiring a wheelchair. They couldn't play or engage with other children, because the city had no accessible play areas for them. The socio-economic status of the city, already in a periphery region underserved and isolated, scores only 3/10, with almost 50% of the families on social assistance. This project represented a giant leap in recognizing the social needs of children with disabilities, allowing them to feel a sense of normalcy and belonging. Feeling socially accepted plays a huge role in their self-confidence and potential to integrate into the community as they grow up. The new accessible park was determined to be located on the city's main street, and connected to a larger municipal park.

My childhood in Kiryat Malachi was difficult. I couldn't go to the playground with my friends as there was no way to get on them.

Kiryat Malachi Resident
The accessible playground was funded and built to include play equipment that is wheelchair accessible and safe, injury protection surfaces, shade structures and surrounding tables, benches, fountains, fencing and lighting.
In December 2022, JNF Canada proudly opened the new accessible park, unveiling the wheelchair accessible play structures, safe surfaces.The dedication ceremony took place in December and was attended by the Mayor of Kiryat Malachi, the Chairman of KKL-JNF, and JNF Canada's major contributor to this project - MaryEllen Herman from Toronto and her family. MaryEllen explained the heartfelt reason that she chose to support this project. 

The Accessibility Playground spoke to me directly. My late daughter, Elizabeth Rose, who would have been aunt to my grandkids, died at age 10, following a poorly matched but last chance bone marrow transplant in 1995. Her life was fragile and fraught with danger. Schooling, playing with other kids, all were negotiated with great difficulty. A playground was a minefield of danger for a child lacking an immune system. Immediately I recognized the boon that this playground would have for challenged kids and also for their parents. I hope families will use this playground with joyful abandon and really share the fun that all kids deserve.

MaryEllen Herman