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Featured Staff Member - Dikla Gol

A PIONEER WHO NEVER STOPPED: OCCUPATIONAL THERAPIST DIKLA GOL

Dikla GolIn the summer of 2001, occupational therapist Dikla Gol left a secure job to cast her fate with a group of dreamers. Fortunately for Dikla--and hundreds of severely disabled children and their families--this became the opportunity of a lifetime. Dikla had joined the small, handpicked team of professionals who carefully formulated the creation of the "Meshi Children's Rehabilitation Center," an institution that ushered in a new era in Israeli care for the handicapped.

"The tasks before us were huge,"Dikla recalled. "However, we were rallied around one of the most inspiring, unstoppable leaders imaginable, the late Lifsha Feldman, who gave us complete faith and a free hand to draw up the rehabilitation center of our dreams." The team worked feverishly, ordering top equipment from across the globe and overseeing the total renovation of one floor of an aging apartment building. Against all odds, Meshi officially opened its doors just two months later in September, 2001. Among the 35 disabled toddlers in Meshi's first student body was Lifsha's own daughter Ruchama.

CREATING AUNIQUE HOLISTIC, CLIENT-CENTERED APPROACH

"I was working at a pediatric developmental center when Lifsha first contacted me,"Dikla said. "From the minute we met, I believed in her and knew that I wanted to work with her. My next step was to quickly round up the best therapists I knew to join our team."

Today, as the head of occupational therapy for the Meshi Early Childhood Center, Dikla Gol supervises a staff of 10, working together to provide a range of treatments for individuals and small groups of youngsters. "When I look back, I see how crucial it was for Meshi to adopt the concepts of occupational therapy terminology, to determine real, measurable goals and an individualized program for each child. This evolved into a unique holistic, client-centered approach that we use throughout Meshi to this day, clearly delineating the current goals for every child, together with his or her parents and the entire team of therapists."

Dikla Gol, who received her BA and MSc in Occupational Therapy from the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, grew up on a kibbutz (collective agricultural settlement) near Jerusalem. Soon after Meshi opened, she was sent to England for special training in the area of treating visual problems for children with cerebral palsy. Later she learned the innovative application of kinesiotape treatment in aiding children with spastic muscles to gain more control of their limbs and extremities.

"Meshi took a lead in Israel's pediatric rehabilitation realm by adding a significant number of therapy hours for our children, harnessing the extraordinary value that intensive therapy and early intervention can often have," she noted. "I'm especially proud of our occupational therapy team's success in adapting a full range of games for even the most severely disabled children, giving them rare opportunities to play. We painstakingly concentrate on improving each child's independence in daily living skills--eating, bathing, dressing, making transfers from the wheelchair, and more.We also use the latest technology to effectively enhance communication and mobility. For me, it's most fulfilling that we're continuing to meet the goal that we set from Meshi's inception, to help each child reach his full potential."

EMERGING FROM THE SHOCK WITH NEW STRENGTH

"Meshi's strength lies in the dynamic interaction between the entire staff," Dikla stresses. "We are passionate about helping each child make progress, and we cooperate to bolster each other's therapies. It's ironic to think that the crowded conditions we work in have made the staff even more connected and involved--to the benefit of our young clients."

Looking back, Dikla says quietly, "I still cry when I think of Lifsha's death, and I still dream that I see her back in Meshi. She knew everything and everyone--all the children and their parents and even their medical assessments. Her memory was amazing. She knew how to speak froma place deep inside her where she was a mother fighting with all her might for her disabled child. As staff, we always felt that everything was possible, that she could help us face anything.

"When she died so suddenly and so young, something left Meshi. But something came. We emerged from the shock with new strength to carry on with our very hard work to improve each child's quality of life. I think that Lifsha would be proud of us today, of the devotion and creativity that grew from the seeds she planted. I've seen how Meshi has changed children's lives and given them a better, more independent future. And each triumph a child makes in Meshi--no matter how small it may appear--is a living tribute to Lifsha."

Previous Staff Members
Esti Kushelevsky
For severely disabled schoolchildren, the ability to speak can be a powerful boon. Yet giving these children the gift of communication is a grueling mission that demands skill, ingenuity, and infinite patience. For veteran Meshi Center speech therapist Esti Kushelevsky, the job is her passion and joy.
Rochy Pfeffer
Rochy Pfeffer watches miracles unfold before her eyes each day. And to do her part to keep them happening, she carries a special screwdriver and toolkit through the corridors of Meshi. Poised & ready for action, the young physical therapy aide - & very deft "handyman" - is responsible for maintaining Meshi's 25 "Hart Walkers.
Talia Farber
Talia Farber, who heads the Meshi School’s Assistive Technology department, pioneered this field in Israel, harnessing technology to “substitute” for impaired functions of the body. Under her guidance, Meshi has become one of the most technology-oriented rehabilitative schools in the entire nation.
Chana Zolberg & Michal Yitzchaki
The women behind the organization and maintenance of Meshi kindergarten’s hundreds of pieces of specialized equipment are two young physical therapists, Chana Zolberg and Michal Yitzchaki, who take the daunting task in stride.
 
Keren Grant
By profession, Keren Grant frees children from prison. Not your average jail breaker, Keren's mission is to break through to disabled children who are completely unable to speak, and give them a means to communicate with the outside world.
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