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Gil Aluf’s miracle iPad win

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In one of the most heartwarming tech stories of the year, a boy at a special needs schools beat dozens of entrants from mainstream schools in the Apple in Education Competition 2012.

When Gil Aluf entered the Apple in Education Competition 2012 competition, which recognises and rewards the most innovative and creative use of Apple in learning and teaching, he had already beaten the odds merely by entering.

The category in which he entered, Artistic Excellence, caters for those learners seeking to express themselves in a highly creative and artistic way. The award recognises the use of iMovie, iPhoto or GarageBand on an iPad or a Mac in an extraordinarily creative way.

But Gil himself is an extraordinary young man. He is a learner at Finkelstein TLC, a school for children with special educational needs.

He had been suffering major epileptic episodes since he was 7 years old. These episodes occurred up to five times a day, and each time a seizure occurred, brain activity was interrupted, some brain cells changed and often died. Each seizure was a medical emergency. Despite many different surgical procedures, nothing helped until he underwent drastic brain surgery in December 2008 that effectively separated one side of his brain from the other.

The seizures stopped but the operation paralysed his left hand and caused unstable body mobility. According to his teachers, he has suffered through all of this with an optimism and positive energy, not allowing his physical disability to slow him down.

Moreover, through all this, Gil discovered that he was able to draw and create cartoon characters with some skill and it is this path that he has chosen to enhance his experience of life.

“This iPad competition submission is a result of all of the above and is testament to this young man’s tenacity and refusal to give up,”” says his teacher.

The school principal, Caron Levy, commented: “”How privileged we are to be able to work with such a unique young man like Gil. He has provided us with the privilege of accepting and embracing difference, for seeing beyond what is on the outside and for celebrating potential and growth. We are always grateful that people like Gil allow us into their world. “”

This year the Apple in Education Competition brought in more than 1000 entries from over 70 schools, in more than 30 subjects. Gil Aluf’s winning project, entitled Book of Superheroes, demonstrated his artwork through his own cartoon characters and a comic strip.

The judging criteria for the Artistic Excellence category were:

1. The resulting project must effectively convey a message and a theme.

2. Show that a Mac or an iPad has been used effectively to demonstrate a high level of creativity, innovation, and originality.

3. The project needs to utilise visuals (stills/video), sound (music/voice overs) and imagery (icons/symbolism/analogies) to enhance the messaging.

4. The effectiveness of the communication and the impact on the audience.

* The story of Gil Aluf’s entry in the Apple in Education Competition 2012 can be viewed on YouTube: http://bit.ly/UyHaNX

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