Bnei Akiva youth movement in Israel hold weekly activities for special needs kids in their branches, guided by youth from the movement. Special needs youth don't have many opportunities to socialize, or participate in youth movements as other kids.
Bnei Akiva gives them the opportunity to join the movement as regular members, and to come to participate in social activities twice a week.
In the Shoham branch, the special needs group have 9 members, with 6 teenage group leaders waiting for them every weeks with smiles and hugs. The activities are costumed to the needs of the groups, with songs, stories crafts and discussions. The senior classes in the branch fight for the opportunity to lead the special needs groups, and see it not only as a mission, but as a privilege.
For the special needs kids, this is a rare opportunity to socialize and assimilate among youth their age, instead of sitting at home. Bnei Akiva movement offers them the chance to be part of the Israeli youth experience, including social events, summer camps, and many other activities.
Special education coordinator of Bnei akiva Orit Tamar said "This is simply a humane endeavor. We want to allow them to enjoy a social life, instead of being isolated from society".
In addition, other kids in the branch also learn how to cope with various aspects of special needs, and welcome them into their worlds. "This is an active lesson in citizenship," said Tamar.
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