NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — “I loved the amazing scenery, the temples, the restaurants,” said 27-year-old Hillary Lipper, who just back from an incredible adventure. “I had an awesome time.”
It was a universal expedition to Israel — a partnership between Chapel Haven Schleifer Center, Access Israel and Accessibility Accelerator, committed to making the world accessible for those of all abilities.
“We on a global basis, are trying to show that people can travel, can live, can go with their families, can experience the same way everybody else can,” Jamie Lassner, Executive Director of Accessibility Accelerator, said.
The group was made-up of staff, parents, and students involved with Chapel Haven Schleifer Center — a school and independent living facility in New Haven.
Israel is known as a leader in accessibility. The tour included boating in the Sea of Galilee, biking through historic streets, riding camels and even swimming in the Dead Sea.
“It was amazingly cool,” Lipper said.
“The trip was just really encouraging for all of us. It represented opportunities to take advantage of things we normally wouldn’t,” said Hillary’s dad, Howard, who was on the trip, speaking from a parents’ perspective, noting that support means everything.
“An 11 hour plane ride, traveling through security and airports, being on a bus with restricted movement, everybody handled it really really well,” he said.
Accessibility Accelerator is known for these missions. It recently took a group of 27 — including 4 people with paraplegia — to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro.
“There’s a saying in Hebrew, ‘Don’t look at the vessel, look at the person inside, what’s inside,'” Lassner said.
The group is left with important memories and a renewed commitment to opening eyes and opportunities, encouraging growth and exploration for all.
“This trip was a lesson to all of us that more of it needs to be done, and the opportunities are there,” Lipper said.
The Chapel Haven Schleifer Center and Accessibility Accelerator relationship continues, promising to provide more adventures for more people, in the future.