A group of special-needs teens who insist serving their country just like any other 18-year-old, are doing so in one of the most secret facilities in Israel – the Negev Nuclear Research Center in Dimona.
The teens, who are enlisted with the National Service, are taking part in a unique program promoted by the NRC and headed by General (Res.) Ehud Adam and the Israel Volunteer Association.
The program began several weeks ago and sees the teens arrive to work on the NRC bus, just like other employees. They are given various assignments, including sorting out goods at the facility's warehouses, gardening and other simple, yet vital, tasks.
"Due to the sensitive nature of this workplace, the teens had to undergo several tests, such as physical exams, personal interviews and security checks," Yoram, VP of Human Resources at the Dimona facility, said.
"We also had to speak with their parents in order to determine what tasks they could perform."
Ahead of launching the program, other NRC employees were briefed about their soon-to-be co-workers, and according to Yoram, the group easily found its place. "Everyone loves them," he said.
Many employees have sent letters to the center's administration, lauding the initiative: "The most moving letter was from an employee whose son suffers from the same disability as one of the teens. He said that seeing these teens fit in with us made him very happy."
The NRC said that both the parents and the teens are thrilled with the opportunity given to them. "They are proud of their work. There's no reason why this program shouldn’t continue for years to come."
Yoram added that the center intends to expand the program to include more special-needs sectors.
Chairman of the Volunteer Association, Yaron Lutz called the program "a breakthrough" and urged other organizations to include special-needs individuals in their facilities. "They can make a significant contribution," he said.