Special in uniform

Phase 1 – Preparing for independence.

Age group 12-18/ in collaboration with the Ministry of Education,
the Ministry of Social Affairs and the JDC

Objective: Improve the skills to manage an independent lifestyle among students in special education frameworks, and prevent “overprotection” of the child, which has been proven to adversely affect the child’s development.

Method : Expand the boundaries of experience and create a diverse, challenging and learning environment at the school, but mostly outside of school. Experts claim 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 and includes educational social experiences and transitioning into independent living.

The goal of partnership with this program to serve as a platform for preparing young people for integration in the IDF and leading an independent life away from home. The organization’s flagship project in the program is “Residence in the Community”.

To prepare the children for independence, the organizations rents apartments near the school, centrally located and within walking distance from major public venues, creating a different, unique and authentic learning space,  in which 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.

Upper grades 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, counselors and volunteers and 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 volunteers

Age Group 18-12 – in collaboration with the Ministry of education and the IDF

Objective: finding 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.

Method: Integration in a volunteer framework several days a week in the army as part of the school curriculum.

The students are bused to 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 and disassembly and repair, preparation of gas masks, emergency warehouses, canteens and kitchens, 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 soldiers

Age group 21 and over 
(In collaboration with the Ministry of Social Affairs, local authorities and the IDF)

Objective: 
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 : Recruitment to serve as fully fledged soldiers.
The military service starts with a short basic training program that includes team building and evaluation of skills, followed by placement in bases participating in the program: Air Force base at Palmachim, naval base in Eilat, HFC bases Ramla and Bilu, in various jobs compatible with their 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 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.

Track 1: Community Based (in collaboration with the Ministry of Social Affairs)

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 bases in the community, a large, spacious and fully equipped apartment, with a manicured garden. The soldiers actively participate in the maintenance of the house hold, cooking and cleaning, this 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 counselors 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 professionals, psychologists and social workers provided by the Ministry of Social Affairs.

Track 2: Home Based (in collaboration with the local authority)

For youth who cannot or will not stay overnight away from their homes, we created a program which buses the soldiers every day from home to the base and back.

In the afternoon, at the end of the service day, the soldiers are bused to a special center that offers personalized programs for personal development in various social and therapeutic areas alongside enrichment activities, culture and recreation (computers, sports, drama, art and more). After these activities and dinner, they are returned to their homes.

The local authorities finance the counselors.

Phase 4 – A Home for Life and Integration into the Community and the Work Force

Age Group: 24 +

Objective:

Integration of the program graduates into the work force.

Method:

Integration of the graduates in jobs in their communities, whether they love in a community base 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 also in a planning stage to open a computer recycling centers that will hire our graduates.