Note to Israeli press: William Shatner will be holding a press conference while in Israel. Details to follow.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jodi Bodner
JNF Director of Communications
212-879-9305 ext. 221
William and Elizabeth Shatner to Visit
Star Takes on New 'Enterprise' in Therapeutic Riding Partnership with JNF
In his 70s, with a still-hot Hollywood career, Shatner shows no signs of slowing down and is turning his attention, energy, and efforts to reconnecting with his Jewish roots and forging a connection to Israel. To accomplish both he has turned to Jewish National Fund and its work with therapeutic riding centers across Israel.
William and his wife, Elizabeth, will be in
Shatner is the third celebrity to take on a Jewish National Fund (JNF) cause. Actor Hal Linden is the national spokesperson for JNF, and world-renowned violinist and conductor Itzhak Perlman speaks on behalf of JNF's Inclusive Parks Project.
“I want to be the celebrity spokesperson for this important project,” said Shatner. “Ever since the day I saw an exhibition put on by an organization called Ahead with Horses of children who were so severely handicapped some could not even hold their heads up, yet there they were going through intricate exercises on horseback, I was smitten by this cause. You can’t watch these kids without knowing you have to help somehow.
“Fifteen years ago I spearheaded the Hollywood Charity Horse Show [HCHS]; now I want to go and make a difference internationally. I am particularly interested in what JNF is doing with this project as I see it as a way to foster peace between the nations. What better way to create a dialogue than by helping handicapped children from different countries feel good about themselves?”
Long involved with a few of the therapeutic riding centers that exist in Israel, JNF of America together with Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael, wanted to do more than just fund one or two centers. The William Shatner/Jewish National Fund Therapeutic Riding Consortium Endowment for
The benefits of riding for those with disabilities have been recognized for over 3,000 years, since the time of Hippocrates. Therapeutic riding has been widely used since the early 1950s as a tool for improving the lives of individuals with physical disabilities.
Individuals with almost any cognitive, physical and/or emotional disability can benefit from therapeutic riding, driving, vaulting, competition or other purposeful, safe and supervised interaction with horses. Because horseback riding gently and rhythmically moves the rider's body in a manner similar to a human gait, riders with physical disabilities often show improvement in verbalization, flexibility, balance, muscle tone, strength, posture, coordination, motor development and emotional well being. For individuals with mental or emotional disabilities, the unique relationship formed with the horse can lead to increased confidence, patience and self-esteem. The sense of independence and acceptance found through these activities with the horse benefits all.
“Riding is a costly therapy; the work that is done here is highly invested,” said Alice Zuckerman, mother of a
“When she started it was so difficult as she could not see, she could hardly hear and her body was so floppy she could hardly control her hand or foot. It was the riding therapy that gave a sign of life for her and literally gave her the ability to stand again on her own two feet. We saw the revival happening from her first therapy session on the horse. It was unbelievable. From therapy session to session we saw the improvement. She is riding six years now. She gains a sense of balance, a great sense of security and most impressively she feels like everyone else. When she sits on the horse you do not know that she can’t walk independently. She can show off about everything that she does do! Today she rides by herself, trots on the horse and we are plugging ahead, hoping we can afford it.”
The William Shatner/Jewish National Fund Therapeutic Riding Consortium Endowment for
Jumpstarted with a sizeable contribution from the Manuel D. and Rhoda Mayerson Foundation, one and a half years ago JNF embarked on a $25 million Inclusive Parks campaign. Working with an architect who specializes in the construction of inclusive areas, and with the support of myriad organizations in Israel, JNF is designing parks, picnic areas, playgrounds, leisure corners, nature trails, lookouts, and other recreational facilities in Israel that are inclusive to all.
Top photo credit: WilliamShatner.com The photo is available as a high-res jpeg.
Bottom: Rider at Red Mountain Therapeutic Riding Center at Kibbutz Grofit in the Negev Desert near the Jordanian border.
To learn more about Therapeutic Riding Consortium Endowment for Israel, click here.
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Jewish National Fund is a non-profit organization founded in 1901 to serve as caretaker of the