The creation of our program, HaMifgash, has been in response to an ever-increasing number of family appeals in search of a solution to the problems of social integration among children and youth, in particular those who have special needs, or are new immigrants, or both. Without help, these children and youth become lonely, unhappy, and sidelined individuals.
These children and youth are at a crucial stage of their lives – they must simultaneously cope with the challenge of integrating into a new society and also with the challenges of their special needs or of adolescence. Thus, there is a great need to provide special assistance to these youth, and concern about their integration.
When we first announced the formation of this program, the response we received was overwhelming. It reinforced our belief in the need for the program.
Two of the main principles of HaMifgash are integration and inclusion. Groups are formed on the basis of age and place of residence and each group includes participants both with and without special needs. Such a situation contributes to expanding the framework of communication, mutual understanding, and empathy of all participants. Our madrichim (counselors) will mediate when situations in the groups lead to conflict and/or misunderstandings between group members.
Each group, though, will “self-manage”. We believe that becoming a person is inseparable from freedom of choice, self-awareness, and the right to make mistakes. Each group will have its own dynamics, or “personality”. No matter how the group functions, our main goal is personal growth for each participant. Guides meet with all the participants in order to get to know them and their needs, interests and expectations.
Two types of activities will be organized – activities in the areas in which the participants reside and excursions throughout the country. Weekly local meetings will be held, in the afternoon or evening, according to the convenience of the members of the group. During these meetings group participants will be provided with the opportunity to plan TOGETHER activities in which they can all participate. These can be movie nights, pizza nights, bowling, performances, parks and attractions, game nights (board games), sports events, and more. The ideas and suggestions of the participants are discussed. Each meeting duration is approximately two hours. Excursions around the country are selected based on the preferences of the group participants. The excursions will take place on weekends and school holidays. The duration of the excursions is from six-hours or more.
All madrichim and regional coordinators must undergo a short training course prior to they begin to work with the groups. Training is administered by experts in the disabilities field.