Preparing for independence
Yad LaYeled HaMeyuchad – “Lend a Hand to the Special Child”
The Project “Preparing for Independence”
From School Age up to IDF Service and Integration in Civilian Community Life and Work Force. Children and later on the young men and women are choached, educated and trained to enhance their degree of personal independence while contributing to society.
The Project Structure includes 4 main phases:
* Preparing for Indepencence (During school age)
* Join the IDF as a Volunteer (During and after school age)
* Join the IDF – Become a Soldier (After school age)
* A Home for Life – Integration in Community and Work Force
After the military service)
The Objective: The objective is to gradually improve the skills of children with special disabilities and or needs to manage an independent lifestyle among students in special education frameworks, to prevent “overprotection” of the child, which has been proven to adversely affect the child’s development.
The Method is to expand the boundaries of experience the child faces step by step, and to create a diverse, challenging and learning environment at school, but mostly outside of school. Many experts came to the conclusion that children with intellectual challenges or learning disabilities learn to be independent most effectively in a natural environment away from school.
In order to reinforce the child’s independence, the program involves parents, teachers and the community. The project includes educational social experiences and transitioning into independent living.
The goal of the cooperating partners with this program is to serve as a complementary platform for preparing young people for a special integration in the IDF and coching the young people in leading an independent life away from home.
The flagship project of the association Yad LaYeled HaMeyuchad – “Lend a Hand to the Special Child” – in the program is “Residence in the Community”.
Phase 1: Preparing for Independence
To prepare the children for independence, the association rents apartments near the school, centrally located and within a walking distance from major public venues, creating a different, unique and authentic learning space. This way the child is not a “conventional” student but one who personally grapples directly with life’s challenges and adjusts to an independent life.
Students in lower grades will spend days throughout the year in the apartment to experience day-to-day tasks such as shopping, riding a bus, managing a household etc.. They learn at school team work, for example as a music drum band.
Upper grade students will participate in a series of stays at the residence, each several days long, during the school year. They will arrive at the residence at the end of the school day for a stay of a few nights, accompanied by a team of educators, counsellors and volunteers. The students will engage in daily routines such as meal preparation, getting ready for the night and getting organized in the morning.
Phase 2 – Join the IDF as a volunteer
The project is implemented in collaboration with the Ministry of education and the IDF.
The relevant Age Group is 18-12 years old.
The Objective is to find challenges and tasks for boys and girls with disabilities who have not yet completed their education (ends at age 21) that will increase their self-confidence and prepare them for an independent life.
The Method: Willing participants are integrated in a volunteer framework several days a week in the army as part of the school curriculum.
The students are transported by bus to relevant IDF military bases near the school, where they wear military uniforms and perform tasks according to their skills and the needs of the army, such as: computer quality control, disassembly and repair, preparation of gas masks, warehouse activities at emergency warehouses, serve in canteens and kitchens, assist in printing shops and more.
As of June 2014 the volunteer track engages 220 students from ten schools throughout the country in five large IDF bases.
Phase 3 – Join the IDF become a soldier
The relevant Age group is 21-24 years (or older)
The project is implemented in collaboration with the Ministry of Social Affairs, local authorities and the IDF.
The Objective is to provide a vocational solution for the young men and women with disabilities who have completed their education and ensure they maintain the confidence and independence they acquired at school.
The Method: The relevant participants are accepted by the IDF to serve as fully fledged soldiers in a unique, specially designed, protective and helpful framework.
The military service starts with a short basic training program which includes team building and evaluation of skills, followed by placement in bases participating in the program: An Air Force base at Palmachim, a Naval base in Eilat, HFC (Homeland Security) bases Ramla and Bilu, in various jobs compatible with their limited abilities.
The duration of the service is three years from age 21 to 24, at the end of which they receive a substantial release grant (as all soldiers get) and are integrated in the work force.
It should be noted that their contribution to the army is tremendous and in some areas, even greater than that of regular soldiers. As of June 2014, the program has integrated 80 soldiers in two tracks: community based and home based.
Israel Defense Minister (and former IDF Chef of Staff) Gen. Moshe (Bogi) Yaalon visited the Homeland Security (HLS) base in the center of Israel. HLS commander, Gen. Eyal Eisenberg explained the contribution of the volunteering soldiers of the project “Special in Uniform” of Yad LaYeled HaMeyuchad, “Lend a Hand to the Special Child“, to the logistics and maintenance of the storage of Israel’s gas masks.
As the following pictures illustrate, the “Special in Uniform” soldiers, men and women, serve in the IDF Ground Forces, Air Force and Navy. They help in warehouse Maintenance, in disasembling computer devices for recycling, in kitchen service etc..
Track 1: Community Based (Implemented in collaboration with the Ministry of Social Affairs and the IDF)
In this track the soldiers are involved in the program 24 hours a day. After an eight hour day at the military base, the soldiers return to their civilian dormitories in the community, a large, spacious and fully equipped apartment, with a manicured garden. The soldiers actively participate in the maintenance of the household, the cooking and cleaning. These activities enhance them in developing an independent personality, learning to cope and experience a social life and partnerships with others.
Each residence houses 20 soldiers with the presence of counsellors around the clock. While living at the residence, each soldier receives an individually tailored plan to promote personal advancement and group interaction in a scope of therapeutic and social areas such as enrichment classes, culture and recreation in the community.
This track is accompanied by professional psychologists and social workers provided by the Ministry of Social Affairs.
Track 2: Home Based (Implemented in collaboration with the local municipalities and the IDF)
For youth who cannot or will not stay overnight away from their homes, we created a program which provides busing for the soldiers every day from home to the IDF base and back.
In the afternoon, at the end of the service day, the soldiers are returned by bus to a special center which offers personalized programs for personal development in various social and therapeutic areas alongside enrichment activities, culture and recreation elements like using computers, participating in sport activities, drama, art and more. After these activities and dinner, they are returned to their family homes. The local municipalities finance the counsellors.
Phase 4 – A Home for Life and Integration into the Community and the Work Force
The relevant Age Group consists of participants aged 24 years or older.
The Objective is the integration of the participating program graduates into the work force.
The Method: Through the integration of the graduates in jobs in their communities, depending on their personal preferences in a community dormitory or at home, utilizing the knowledge and experience they acquired during their IDF military service.
Industrial plants, high-tech companies, restaurants and government agencies have expressed their willingness and have shown enthusiasm to hire the program graduates. We are presently in a planning stage aiming to open a computer recycling centers that will hire our graduates.