Home for Life
The Objective of the Project “An Apartment in the Community” of the association Yad LaYeled HaMeyuchad
“Lend a Hand to the Special Child”
is the integration of the program graduates in the community and into the work force. But the first preparatory steps are done during the school time.
Integration of pupils, then school graduates and the IDF graduates of “Special in Uniform” in jobs in their communities, according to their preference in a community dormitory or at home, utilizing the knowledge and experience they acquired during their military service.
Industrial plants, hi-tech companies, restaurants and government agencies have expressed their willingness and enthusiasm to hire the program graduates.
We are in a planning stage to open a computer recycling center which will hire our graduates.
An Apartment in the Community
The text is based on the statements made in the Youtube video:
In order to train the children and the young people to practice independence, the association Yad LaYeled HaMeyuchad – “Lend a Hand to the Special Child” – rents apartments in the neighbourhood of the school. There a unique space of experiential learning is created. The student is not a “pupil” in the conventional sense anymore. He becomes a student who faces the challenges of life and adapts to them.
The apartments are in a central location in town. They are just a working distance away from the central public facilities. This enables an authentic experience. The pupils of the lower classes come to the apartment for a few days during the school year. In these days they exercise every day duties of a standard routine. Tasks which at home their families are handling for them, are here gradually delegated to them to gain their own experience in implementing them.
Among the tasks they learn step by step how to shop and check the change money, how to go by bus from one point to another including the purchase of the correct tickets, and how to keep an orderly and clean household.
The students of the higher classes come a few times a year for a week including overnight stay in the project-apartment. These experience days include a number of guided assignments. After school the students do not take the busing back home, but the bus brings them to the project apartment. During all time the group of the boys or the group of the girls have educational coaches present, day and night. The students learn and exercise how to plan their time outside of school.
They learn how to purchase the items they need in order to later prepare their own food. They exercise cooking and handling all the procedures before, during and after a meal. They exercise with their pedagogical coaching team how to prepare to go to sleep and face spending the night outside of home. For most of them it is the first time in life that they go to sleep without the presence of their parents. In the morning they exercise an independent handling of the whole procedure between waking up and catching the bus which brings them to school.
Of course a group of girl students is supervised by women coachers. The boys have man tutors. Special preparatory couching meetings take place with the parents before these experimental days. The parents, sisters and brothers of the students are equally exited to meet the young people after they have been a few days out of home.
The first apartment for this project is in the city of Ness Ziona. It is a cooperation project of the association of Yad la Yeled ha Meyuchad – “Lend a Hand to the Special Child” – together with the HaTomer School for Learning Disabled and is under the helpful auspices of the city of Ness Ziona and the municipal education division. This pilot project was initiated by the principal of the HaTomer School, Mr. Shlomi Irim who belongs to the founders of the program “Spaces for independence”.
In his introduction as the Director of the association, Rabbi Mendi Belinitzki calls the apartment “A Home in the Community Project”. The goal of the project is to enable each time a small group of young people aged 14 – 15 to 19 – 20 to go through a guided and educationally supervised training in order for the young people to aquire life skills. This process should help them to prepare so that they later can live independently.
The program includes exercising shopping, bus travel, clothing, communicating with friends and fellows to the apartment, taking care of their personal hygiene, cooking,handling dishwashing etc. All assignments are exercised in a warm homely atmosphere in the community.
All the young people participating in the program choose to learn certain skills on their own initiative. The caring staff is well-known to the students from school. So the coaches are no strangers to the pupils. Director Rabbi Belinitzki emphasises that the greatest gift the young people get in these experimental days is the sense of independent life.
Principal Shlomi Irim explains that also other students of school from the age of 6 – 21 years get special lessons devoted to certain skills related to the life in the project apartment. This way all pupils in the HaTomer school know about the apartment, and are challenged with special components and exercises of the project. This way not only the students who spend a few days with overnight stay participate and gain from the new educational possibilities which the apartment project offers.
This experimental coaching for independence in everyday life is offered, so principal Shlomi Irim, because the standard silabus of a school program does not include the practical preparation for such life essentials. We are the only ones who offer the pupils this special chance.
His moto is “Challenge instead of Protecting”. He describes how he personally joined a group of the elder students while they were shopping at the “Mega” local superstore. He asked them whether they usually shop together with their parents. To those who did, Shlomi Irim asked what they usually do when they are in the shop. The answer was that they hold the cart. Their job was to hold the cart and not to move. Holding the cart was what prevented them from managing by themselves.
The project Shlomi Irim initiated in the HaTomer School is called “Spaces for Independence”. It aims at creating different spaces for independence for the children. The project was extended in the way that a new type of school lessons was introduced. The name of the lesson is “Recess”. We take the children in that lesson outdoors and encourage them to use the “Recess” in order to interact with their school mates.
A further step was to open a modest kind of a school café, to train this context also. Shlomi Irim recalls that he was surprised by a request of one of the pupils, who asked that the school should teach what to talk about in a café. Upon this request a new lesson category was developed: “Free and Defined”. The idea is that the pupils get defined assignments, but are free in the way they implement.
Relating to the apartment are assignments which can be exercised also elsewhere near the school. For example how to get from one address point to another. How to carefully cross a street. The pupils face assignments raising their cautious awareness to the different purposes related to the various rooms of an apartment.
Starting with the fifth grade once a week school groups go and visit the apartment. The program covers all classes until grade 14. This way a gradual process of couching and raising awareness as well as gaining components of personal experience in the home and in the community are provided. The elements such as preparing the bed or preparing a meal have follow ups in school. The same applies to the shopping experience. We thereby significantly reduce the difficulties the pupils will face when they will have to manage themselves outside their homes.