Social interaction is arguably the most essential aspect of childhood development. As highly impressionable beings, a child’s surrounding environment can have a profound impact on their self-esteem, independence, maturity, and especially their ability to communicate with others. Thus, children are encouraged to participate in a variety of social activities, such as sports teams, art classes, and youth groups. Unfortunately, when a child has special needs, their options for social interaction become more limited than those of the average child. The Shalva National Center, however, serves as a safe, inclusive, and accommodating space for those with cognitive and physical disabilities. Regardless of religion, ethnic background, or financial capability, Shalva provides equal access and opportunity to social and recreational activities for all its participants, from infancy to adulthood.
With so many activities available for disabled Isreali youth, participants and their families are eager to absorb all that Shalva has to offer. Consequently, the commute to Shalva’s Jerusalem location isn’t easily accessible to all individuals. Despite past efforts to organize transportation systems for Shalva participants, they proved inefficient, unorganized, and confusing. In collaboration with Shalva, Hilma – Tech for Social Impact has developed the application, Shalva-Rides, to combat this pressing issue.
Shalva-Rides is a systematic carpool and tracking system designed to transport children with special needs to and from the Shlava Center. With nearly 300 children attending Shalva’s after-school activity programming everyday, Shalva-Rides ensures that all participants are accounted for. The Shalva-Rides application updates and monitors all incoming and outgoing shuttles, participant attendance, and administrative information.
Now, families and Shalva staff can confidently rely on a safe and secure transportation system for young Shalva participants. Despite one’s disabilities, Israeli children are able to take part in a wide variety of accessible, interactive, and social activities, further influencing them during their early stages of childhood development.