Etgarim to offer sporty summer camp to disabled British youth

Orel Galula has been spreading the word about Etgarim in London

Orel Galula has been spreading the word about Etgarim in London

An Israeli charity which provides challenging outdoor sports activities for physically and mentally disabled children wants to open its summer camps to British youngsters.

Etgarim currently works with 5,000 youngsters and 700 adults at its Israeli centres. Post-trauma psychological help and sporting pursuits are offered to IDF veterans.

Karnit Goldwasser, widow of captured Israeli soldier Ehud Goldwasser

Karnit Goldwasser, widow of captured Israeli soldier Ehud Goldwasser

Orel Galula, the IDF’s first wheelchair-bound officer, and Karnit Goldwasser, widow of Ehud Goldwasser — the Israeli soldier captured and killed by Hizbollah during the 2006 Lebanon conflict — visited London at the weekend to promote the charity’s work.

They met Israeli Ambassador Ron Prosor and attended events with donors to raise money for southern Israel kindergartens supported by Etgarim.
“This is a unique charity,” claimed international resource manager Adi Schneider, who joined the London mission.

“We have Jewish children, children from Arab villages, those with physical disabilities and mental disabilities. We build their confidence and prove to them they can do anything.” Ms Schneider met officers of charities including Norwood to discuss giving disabled British children the opportunity to enjoy their own summer tour.

Suffering from a rare muscle-wasting disease Ms Galula, 24, has spent half her life in a wheelchair. With Etgarim’s support, she hopes to compete in the sailing event at the London 2012 Paralympics.

“I had confidence before, but now I have even more,” she said. “The army did not really want me, but the charity made it possible for me to be the first wheelchair officer.

“At home I was always told there was nothing I couldn’t do. At Etgarim I found people who feel the same. My story shows you can do anything.”

Mrs Goldwasser said that before his kidnapping, her husband had been planning to volunteer with the charity.

During the agonising wait for news of his fate, she threw herself into working with Etgarim. “I know how much it helps people with a disability,” she reported.

“I have been working with an officer who was seriously injured during the operation in Gaza. He is now blind but is going back into the army to work in intelligence. I do not know any other organisation that offers a process like this.”

Last updated: 3:46pm, May 21 2009