Over 330,000 children in the geographical and social periphery of the State of Israel grow up without the opportunities and tools to develop and realize their latent potential. Over 350 trained mentors of Youth Futures in Israel are taking action every day to change this reality.
The Spirit of Israel supports the Youth Futures program founded by the Jewish Agency, which is designated for children in grades 2-8 and operates for the advancement of children and teenagers in the periphery.
The program provides these children with comprehensive support, by means of the integration of a “significant adult” in their lives, known as a “mentor.” The task of mentors is to guide, encourage and help youth at risk, in communities where the program is in operation. The mentors receive professional training and close support for the duration of their period of work and amass experience in therapeutic and community work. Many of them chose to remain in the professional field and in the community after they complete their jobs, mostly in the educational or therapeutic domains, and continue to strengthen and contribute to the community.
Every mentor works a full shift with 16 children at risk, and accompanies them in all their life domains: the spiritual, familial, educational and social. The program operates to make accessible the social services and resources that are available in the community, encourages the involvement of the family in the process of change, strengthens the children’s parents, through personal support and enrichment workshops, and recruits the whole community to engender a supportive and progressive educational environment.
Winds of Hope
Owing to its uniqueness Youth Futures has become a success story and today over 10,000 children and families from different populations in Israeli society, including the haredi, Arab, Bedouin, and Druze communities, are participating. The program is taking place in 35 local municipalities around Israel in cooperation with over 200 different schools and dozens of professional staffs.
The constant increase in the number of children and teenagers at risk is one of the urgent problems in Israeli society. Generally speaking, the extent of the social services offered to them doesn’t answer their needs, and many of them are forced to grow up in conditions that do not enable optimal development and at times even deny their basic rights such as security, protection, respect and independence.
Personal Work Program:
Children at risk who participates in Youth Futures has a mentor assigned to them and their family, who serves as a main social envoy in their lives, helps them acquire vital life skills and benefit from suitable social services that will enable them to build full lives.
The mentors, along with the children’s parents and school teachers, organize for each child a personal work program based on attainable goals in the social, educational and communal domains. In order to fulfill the work plan, each child receives a personal empowerment basket which includes a defined budget to finance the activities. The work plan includes set meetings with the mentor, social activities and empowerment and enrichment activities.
The task of the mentor requires that he maintains steady contact with the various educational systems, community services and even with the local municipality, with the aim to create a multi-dimensional support system which answers the diverse needs of the children and their families.
As another means of support for the families of the children participating in the program, and in order to enable them to create a supportive environment that is crucial for their advancement, some communities also run a Family Program for Youth Futures.
In this framework, a “family mentor” is attached to the family and works in full cooperation with the child’s mentor. The family mentor supports the parents for the duration of a year and a half, in which she/he gives them an attentive ear and strong support, and even the strength to guide them and bring about change. The parents participate in diverse group enrichment activities, among them workshops on relevant subjects and joint activities for them and their children such as field trips, holiday celebrations, creative workshops and the like.