INNOVATIVE NORTH JERSEY JEWISH DAY SCHOOL OPENS STATE-OF-THE-ART OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY ROOM
BEN PORAT YOSEF, KNOWN FOR ITS UNIQUE CURRICULUM, ADDS ANOTHER FIRST TO ITS PORTFOLIO
PARAMUS, New Jersey – As part of an ongoing effort to accommodate the diverse needs of its student body, Ben Porat Yosef (BPY), a yeshiva day school specializing in providing students with immersive educational experiences, recently opened its state-of-the-art occupational therapy room. The room includes highly sophisticated tools to be employed by occupational therapists who provide their services during the school day.
The space features a rock-climbing wall, a zipline, a variety of swings and various other stations designed to optimize students’ fine, gross motor, and sensory integration skills. Students who receive services through a private occupational therapist or through Bergen County Special Services will have initial access to the room under a therapist’s supervision.
It was funded through a coordinated effort lead by BPY parents Evan and Diana Zisholtz, in memory of Evan’s late mother, Vivian, who was a long-time occupational therapist in Atlanta.
It was just a few months back when Evan overheard a fellow BPY parent lament the added logistical stresses of OT and other after school services, as parents must manage the pick-ups and drop-offs while watching their other children. Drawing on the memory of his own mother and the work she did in Atlanta, he set out to dedicate an OT room which would enable more students to receive these vital services during the school day and allow their parents much needed respite from after school obligations.
The room, dubbed Oma’s OT Room after the name she went by, was gifted to BPY by Barry and Mindy Zisholtz, Evan’s father and stepmother, and Julio and Debbie Berger, Diana’s parents, in loving memory of Vivian, or “Oma”, as she was called by her grandchildren.
For many young children, general access to occupational therapy services can provide significant skills that benefit a student’s academic growth. While for some, the treatments may address specific fine or gross motor deficits, such as handwriting or pencil grip, other children with or without formal diagnoses experience a range of self-regulatory and sensory processing difficulties that interfere with their ability to socialize, focus, and learn new skills. Occupational therapy services consisting of regimented exercise routines have increasingly been looked towards as a method of treatment to help calm the body and improve focus. While such routines can also be performed at minimal cost, gross motor equipment that is targeted to engage young children, such as a rock-climbing wall, is anticipated to yield the most effective results.
“When one of my friends mentioned the added logistical stress that comes with a child who requires after school occupational therapy, it hit me that perhaps dedicating a space within BPY for these vital sessions might be an incredible way to memorialize my mother through her life’s work while helping the Yeshiva we love grow to meet the needs of our peers,” said Evan Zisholtz. “We hope Oma’s OT Room will continue to spread her legacy of helping children through their early stages of development.”
“Having access to this equipment on campus will offer significant advantages for many students and their parents. Children who rely on such therapies during the day would otherwise be required to visit a specialized facility. Oma’s OT Room will remove the financial burden and logistical nightmare of using such an after-school facility from parents and further alleviate them from the inconvenience of driving their child to and from services. Receiving expansive services in-house will also provide the advantage of treating students in the environment their struggles occur and will promote a greater carryover benefit for classroom lessons,” said BPY head of school Rabbi Saul Zucker. “We are indebted and grateful to our donors and BPY parents, Evan and Diana Zisholtz, who had the foresight to identify the tremendous benefit this will offer to our student body.”
Ben Porat Yosef (BPY) is an Orthodox yeshiva day school in Paramus, NJ that strives to develop each child's ahavat Hashem and yirat Hashem; inspire, challenge and engage each learner; celebrate our dual Sephardic/Ashkenazic heritage and traditions; empower and connect students through Hebrew language fluency; and build a warm and caring community with chesed as a central focus. For more information, visit: https://www.benporatyosef.org/.