Vee are the People: Meet Michal Ben Shabtay

After volunteering to make costumes for disabled children, Michal Ben Shabtay discovered the magic that can happen when the children are the ones volunteering.

In this exciting interview, Rolling Costumes' founder shares her inspiring story of establishing an association for kids to learn and develop the habit of volunteering.

What brought you to found Rolling Costumes?

"My Midburn community and I would volunteer occasionally. One time we made costumes for children in wheelchairs in Raanana at Beit Issie Shapiro. My daughter got angry at me and said we should have made costumes for her friend in Haifa. So I promised her we would do that next year.

The next year, I created the project for the first time. The media covered the project extensively. It didn't help raise money, but rather, the number of children increased. It was for the best, and it was the largest project in the world. A year after that, I already received costume requests from all over the country."

This year we are in a middle of a lockdown. Did it affect your project?

"With Rolling Costumes, there is no need to travel to a specific place. We make it possible for everyone to participate.

This year, we developed a project that allowed kids to make costumes during quarantine in their homes and volunteer. More than 150 children are making costume accessories from materials they have at home."

How do the kids react to the costumes?

"On the one hand, it empowers the children receiving the costumes - by turning something that is a disadvantage into an opportunity, as the child can have an advantage due to his size and beauty. On the other hand, it empowers the kids who volunteer - education is at the heart of the project. It is great to see even the children with special needs volunteer, even those who are unable to move an arm or a leg. I find for them all sorts of tasks they can do."

What exactly do you do in this project?

"In the first year, I was largely responsible for the costumes, with just a few volunteers but good ones. This year, I am more concerned with administrative issues since there are many more volunteers all over the country, both adults and children. It's a good thing - there are many more volunteers to manage. I'm waiting to begin the creative work because I love designing costumes and finding innovative solutions."

What motivates you?

"The feeling of doing something good, of contributing to something worthwhile. Many times the parents tell me it has made their year. I see kids volunteering, and it is even more significant for me than a disabled kid getting a costume. Volunteering is good for your soul. I'm not spiritual, it's just a good and pleasant feeling, and that's how I was raised."

Have you learned anything new about yourself?

"I used to volunteer and dream of starting an association and changing the world. I didn't expect Rolling Costumes would become that. I thought it was nice, but it doesn't make a big difference in the world. It's about personal empowerment, something small.

But, Rolling Costumes created a volunteer education that I believe will change the world. Now I know what I want to do when I grow up. I've found what I think is significant enough to get into founding an association. My dream is to open an association for volunteer education to engage children in practical volunteering."

Tell about a special event that happened while working on Rolling Costumes

"Last year, a lot of costumes were ordered at the last minute. We worked all night and produced a creative happening on Election Day. Throughout the day, we went to schools, posted posters, and called people up to make costumes with us. It was a challenging and charming day. Chaotic but with lots of results. Seeing kids volunteer was inspiring. If you guide them well, it looks like a professional job."

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