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Commemorating 40, Celebrating 10: Israel Elwyn’s Katie Manson Sensory Garden

August 2017

The late Katie Manson was a young woman who loved beauty and nature and would have turned 40 this year.  Israel Elwyn (IE) and its service recipients commemorated this event on June 25 with a party in IE's Katie Manson Sensory Garden in Jerusalem, which was established 10 years ago by Katie’s family and friends, the Jerusalem Foundation and others.  The family's goal was to honor Katie’s memory by providing a fully accessible, green, calm and relaxing environment which all Israelis with and without disability could enjoy. 


The party celebrating Katie’s birthday is an annual event at IE.  This year it was particularly special, with 100 support recipients and staff of the IE Jerusalem Sabbah Center’s Adult Day Center joining in to celebrate both Katie’s 40th birthday and the Garden’s 10 years of operation.  Many of the participants require supports in the most basic of daily activities, but that did not stop them from enjoying themselves and making their pleasure known.

IE staff prepared for the event by creating activities that would be accessible and enjoyable for all the participants. They used pictures to help explain Katie’s story and the family’s motivation to build the garden, in a way that was cognitively and linguistically accessible. Background music was used to set the tone for the event.

In the Sight Pavilion, participants created giant soap bubbles that they entered and exited; IE’s CEO, David Marcu, also joined in the fun.  One service recipient, Ayala, repeatedly asked to enter the bubbles and took visible pleasure when they popped.

Pictured :  IE's CEO, David Marcu

In the Sound Pavilion, a giant musical circle was created with participants playing drums from a wide range of cultures.  Esther, a service recipient with limited hearing, joined in the drumming and was thrilled when everyone followed a rhythm that she had established.

In the Touch Pavilion, participants touched and fed the various types of animals present that had been brought in for the party – guinea pigs, rabbits, birds and reptiles, all of which are used for animal-assisted therapy -- and told how they felt about the different textures they were experiencing.

In the Taste/Scent Pavilion, participants experimented with a range of tastes and smells and then planted herbs in pots that now sit on the window sills of the Adult Day Center.

Rounding up the activity, everyone was asked to release a balloon in Katie’s memory, making the sky a riot of colors.

One service recipient, Eyal, said of the event, “I enjoyed the party.  I loved the drums and singing with the music.”  Tali, another participant, related with the assistance of her iPad, “I loved all the activities, especially the animals.” 

All agreed the party was a success, enjoyed by all.


More on the Katie Manson Sensory Garden

Designed to respect the adult user and his or her needs, the Garden is nevertheless suitable for all ages.  The Garden has four areas, each dedicated to a different sense:  touch, sight, hearing and taste/smell.  This separation heightens sensory stimulation and enables the discernable but independent stimulation and activation of each sense.

The Touch Pavilion – Sensory experiences for the entire body and experimentation with a variety of materials and textures, including a beaded device which provides back massage, a rocking chair, a texture table, and others.

The Sight Pavilion – Experimentation with colors, shapes and visual illusions, along with activity that encourages eye-hand-leg coordination.  Features include mirrors that provide distorted reflections of fixed objects, colored surfaces, and a large magnifying glass.

The Hearing Pavilion - Unique instruments create vibrations and low tones (also suitable for people with hearing disabilities) that can be played, including percussion instruments such as bells, a xylophone, and a sound table.

The Smell and Taste Pavilion - Scented plants and herbs allow experiential experimentation with smells and tastes.  Visitors can plant, experience smells and tastes, and investigate artificial scents.

Interactive Figures - This section allows activity that integrates all the senses through various technologies emphasizing gross motor activity.  Larger than life-size figures each have a unique character that encourages sensory activity.

The Garden's quality and uniqueness lies in the attention and thought invested in integrating rehabilitative-treatment activity with experiences in an esthetic and serene corner of nature.

The Garden adds a further dimension to the services Israel Elwyn (IE) offers to people with disabilities by encouraging enjoyable activity and sensory stimulation through equipment designed especially for this purpose by a team of professionals. 

Lets Connect

We'd love to hear from you! Also, please let us know in advance of your next trip to Israel and we will give you a tour of the Israel Elwyn programs.

You can also contact one of our North American offices: United States: (267) 225-5132 or Canada: (416) 649-1655.

If you would like to make a contribution either online or by check, please see the details below.

David B. Marcu, Chief Executive Officer

IE's mission is to develop and provide a wide array of supports and tools for people with disabilities, while constantly striving for excellence of service and the creation of a just society. Together with people with disabilities and society at large, we shall continue working as an innovative and cutting-edge organization.

Please support the work of Israel Elwyn to provide state-of-the-art services in the areas of childhood early intervention, rehabilitation, assisted living, vocational training and employment services for persons with disabilities by making a gift:

At PayPal:
American Friends of Israel Elwyn
Canadian Friends of Israel Elwyn

By check payable to:
American Friends of Israel Elwyn, PO Box 828284, Philadelphia, PA 19182-8284
Canadian Friends of Israel Elwyn, 74 Tycos Drive, Toronto, Ontario M6B 1V9

To donate in Israel:
Please click this link:
Mail checks: payable to "Israel Elwyn", at 20 Henrietta Szold St., Jerusalem 9650200

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