HIT Students Bring Joy to Disabled Children with ‘Dream Costumes’ Project for Purim 

 “Mom, I want a wheelchair because I want to be cool like them!” – Children with disabilities at Beit Issie Shapiro embrace holiday spirit with customized costumes that seamlessly incorporate mobility aids 

 By Veronica Neifakh/The Media Line 

For the forthcoming Purim festivities, Holon Institute of Technology (HIT) students are spearheading the “Dream Costumes” project, which aims to design, craft, and customize costumes for Beit Issie Shapiro’s students with disabilities. Just in time for the holiday revelry, 30 children between the ages of 3 and 13 and reliant on wheelchairs or walkers, will don Purim attire that seamlessly incorporates mobility aids. 

We traveled to Ra’anana to take part in this wonderful holiday celebration. The school’s vibrant halls were bustling with noise and joy as students and parents scurried about, adjusting the costumes. Children laughed and reveled in colorful designs that transformed them into their favorite characters. In addition to the perennial favorites of astronauts and princesses, this year’s costume requests included contemporary cultural icons such as soldiers, pilots, Barbie, DJs, and even a bag adorned with Israeli sweets. 

The air was electric with happiness, and the concentration of joy seemed off the charts. Despite this year’s difficulties—the disruptions caused by war, sirens, and the mobilization of parents and staff for military service—the Purim celebration at Beit Issie Shapiro remained a haven of happiness and positivity. 

Itamar’s Story 

Ten-year-old Itamar is one of the enthusiastic participants who aspire to wear an astronaut suit.  

Sharon Marci, Itamar’s mother, told The Media Line that her son, the youngest of his three siblings, has been studying at the school for two years.  

“He was diagnosed with Cerebral palsy. At Beit Issie Shapiro, he does physiotherapy and hydrotherapy and gets all he needs. We like it here very much. When he came here, he barely spoke. Now, he understands and answers questions; he speaks on the level of a five-year-old,” she said. 

According to Marci, Itamar was thrilled with the costume and design process, which the whole family participated in.  

Due to the war, Itamar’s father, Ilan, has been serving in an elite army unit away from home for the past several months. However, he obtained leave to participate in this special event with the family. 

Marci said, “Itamar misses him very much.” She added, “This event is a great opportunity to get together, and Itamar is very happy to see all the family together.” 

Student’s Contribution  

Roi Apter is a second-year industrial design student at HIT. This is the first time the 28-year-old has volunteered for this project. Apter explained that he likes design because he is curious about how things are made and how he can improve them for people.  

“It was a very busy year, but I heard that one girl, Sarah, didn’t have anyone to make her a costume, so I wanted to help; I felt really bad that she was not going to have one,” he told The Media Line.  

Apter said that Sarah, “who is brave and strong but has difficulties moving,” wanted to be a Barbie doll, and he took her idea to another level.  

“She got dressed as a Barbie doll, and I thought she wouldn’t be a Barbie doll in a wheelchair, so I built a costume around the wheelchair for her. We made a speedy pink Barbie car,” he said proudly.  

Apter explained that to create such a complicated design, he worked with Sarah at her house, measured the wheelchair, and even considered whether she wanted a jeep or a fast car.   

HIT students must fit each costume with any devices that the children use. The costumes also need to be created so that parents can take them apart and put them back together themselves. This way, they can be used for the whole week.  

Ella Kotler is a first-year HIT student studying industrial design. Her work focuses on creating something that looks good, makes the wearer feel good, and is practical. Ella shared with The Media Line that creating something ecological and portable is the direction she wants to pursue.  

She said that volunteering for this Purim costume project at Beit Issie Shapiro will allow her to see how her degree can benefit the world. 

“This is the first time that I’ve combined the skills I’m learning in the degree to create something much more magnificent, and it feels amazing,” Kotler said. 

She created an astronaut in a spaceship for a boy called Ariel and said that there were a total of three spaceship costumes designed this year.  

Acknowledging the importance of each student’s entire family participating in the costume-creating process, Kotler worked on the costume multiple times with his parents at Ariel’s house.  

“It was important to see how he moves so we could create something comfortable for him,” she explained. “This way, it will be easy for him to move inside and turn around in the room. It was also important for us to create a costume that was interesting for him from the inside. He now has a lot of stuff to touch and to see inside the costume,” she added.  

The finished costumes were so successful that, according to volunteers, a child without a disability who was at the Purim celebration told his mother: “Mom, I want a wheelchair because I want to be cool like them!”  

“It is amazing that we can create a costume for a child so that he will feel like the cool one in the group. I think it’s an extraordinary thing,” Kotler concluded.  

“This was one of the happiest moments I had in this terrible year,” said Apter. “It’s amazing that after everything that happened, we can still give them [the Beit Issie Shapiro students] the opportunity to have fun, dress up, be silly, and feel good for one day.”  

Beit Issie Shapiro – A Special Place 

It was heartwarming to witness such a vibrant and joyous holiday celebration surrounded by the incredibly important individuals who make Beit Issie Shapiro run smoothly. Their unwavering commitment and willingness to embrace diversity allow children with disabilities to overcome obstacles and thrive daily. 

Michael Lawrence, chief advancement officer responsible for global partnerships and fundraising worldwide, told The Media Line that although the children may be in a wheelchair or have to walk with a walker, they can experience their dreams coming true at the school. 

“We really help them get the most out of Purim, and that’s our dream come true, too,” he said, adding that the school staff always looks for new ways to innovate and create new ideas and therapies.  

“A classic example is that we now have online do-it-yourself inclusive costumes so that kids with disabilities and their families around the world can take our videos and make their own costumes,” he said.  

He shared that he admired the HIT students who created the Purim costumes for the children this year. “The way they’re involved in this is quite amazing. I think that’s the beauty of Israel. We’re all brothers and sisters, and Purim is a huge thing for all Jewish people in Israel and around the world. And these students are showing that this is a festival for everyone.” 

“Of course, we’re thinking all the time about the hostages and our soldiers in Gaza, and everyone here is praying for better days. But I think it’s a statement about celebrating, about looking for those happy, positive moments in life. These kids need it,” Lawrence concluded. 

Costumed children and their families. (Courtesy)

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