Background of the Organization:
‘Gesher el Hanoar’ (Bridge to the Youth) was founded in 2002 with the goal of helping youth growing up in dangerous or stressful environments. For the last eight years ‘Gesher El Hanoar’ has run a ‘warm home’ on Ben Gurion Boulevard in Tel Aviv using a small staff, teachers, Nation Service Volunteer, counselors and other volunteers.
Principles of ‘Gesher el Hanoar’:
“Warm Home” Policy – The project operates six days a week and is dedicated to giving each and every youth in the group a warm
, loving and personal relationship. In addition, there is constant phone contact with the participants and their families (even on week ends).
The “Basket of Services” – includes nourishing meals, quiet corners to rest, and assistance in all fields of study, personal empowerment, cultural activities, sports, social activities and “tender loving care”. Each participant gets individual attention and a schedule made to fit.
Education – The staff, including professional teachers, along with Nation Service Volunteer and other volunteers assist the ‘Gesher el Hanoar’ youth with their homework, projects and preparation for exams. The goal is to teach them studying habits (which are geared for the long term) and to help them to learn on their own for the matriculation exams. All this increases their general knowledge and their self confidence. The immediate goal is to improve their performance and avoid their dropping out of formal learning environments.
Value System – Exposure to, and strengthening of basic human values (behavior, culture, Jewish and Israeli Heritage).
Education to meaningful service in the IDF or National Service – This may hold the key to success in the civilian world after discharge. ‘Gesher el Hanoar’ holds various activities with the branches of the IDF and National Service, including, discussion panels with soldiers from a wide variety of units, an annual workshop with counselors from the Education Corps and adoption of ‘Gesher el Hanoar’ by assorted units of the IDF. With the help of these units, ‘Gesher el Hanoar’ is allowed to visit bases and airfields, participate in festivities and ceremonies, attend lectures given by the commanders and even receive soldiers who help out with the tutoring.
In addition ‘Gesher el Hanoar’ and its staff guide the participant through the entire cycle – from pre-draft consultations to graduation ceremonies from IDF courses.
Workshops, groups and lectures – On a wide range of subjects such as interpersonal communications, rights and duties of youth, science, nourishment, sexuality, avoidance of verbal and physical violence, etc.
Strengthening family ties – ‘Gesher el Hanoar’ has set a goal to reinforce the ties between the participant and his family and to get the family to commit itself to success of the student. This is accomplished by visiting the home, continuous communication with the parents, support (if possible) for the needs of the participant via contributions, emotional support for family members, including the family in activities and generally bridging the gap between the youth and his family.
Community service – One of ‘Gesher el Hanoar’ main values is giving back to the community. As such, the participant is encouraged to be active in the neighborhood or community thereby coming full circle and allowing the youth to be a partner in the vision and achievements. To accomplish this, a program was established in conjunction with various youth institutions and retirement homes in the Tel Aviv area.
In addition, the older students, and the graduates (after military service) help out with the younger ones in a wide range of activities. The added value of returning graduates is clearly seen at ‘Gesher el Hanoar’ and raises the motivation of current participants.
‘Gesher el Hanoar’ operates all year long. Twenty two teenagers arrive after school, eat a hot meal, rest, receive professional help with their studies and homework and participate in enrichment classes – all the while being closely monitored to ensure their success in their schoolwork. In addition, there are many activities connected to emotional support and life skills. These include personal coaching, psycho – drama, workshops on human rights, relationships, sexuality, home economics, personal finances, Para medicine, violence, self empowerment, Jewish values, computers, music (including music appreciation), reading, art, chess etc.
At least once a month, the group participates in activities such as nature field trips, concerts, theatre shows, opera, movies and museums. Even during the summer break, they participate in activities and get reinforcement in the subjects they have trouble with. Lastly, there is an annual outing, lasting several days, where social bonding and getting better acquainted with the landscape of Israel are the main themes.
‘Gesher el Hanoar’ Objectives:
- Continuing formal education and completion of matriculation exams
- Achieving emotional and social empowerment
- Enlistment to the IDF / National Service
- Obtainment of learning skills allowing the participant to continue to higher education or to the job market
- Exposure to and adoption of values of good citizenship