ICEJ Helping Israeli Youths Reach for the Horizon

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2 Feb 2021
ICEJ Helping Israeli Youths Reach for the Horizon

What is the ‘horizon’? Could it be a dream that seems so far off in the distance, that no matter how hard one tries it feels unattainable? Or perhaps the life one aspires to live, yet it seems impossible?

For many Israeli youth, they would simply stumble through life if they had not been given the opportunity to join a special enrichment program to help them navigate through life’s toughest stages and reach for the horizon.

The ICEJ has been involved with this unique educational enrichment program, called “Touching the Horizon”, ever since it was launched as a pilot project in a high school in Akko. Seeing its early and obvious success, the program has since been expanded to high schools across Israel. Presently the ICEJ supports the ‘Horizon’ program in three high schools, two in Jerusalem and one in Lod – each with about 25 students participating.

The aim is to help vulnerable youth struggling through life and in danger of dropping out of school, by providing mentors to help them persevere, overcome their personal obstacles, and complete their schooling. These young Israelis have talent and potential, but they lack the opportunities and support essential to succeeding.

Aimed primarily at grades 10 to 12, the youth attend small weekly meetings in a safe environment which includes personal mentoring, help developing leadership and social skills, tutoring in difficult subjects, community service opportunities, confidence-building team activities and several hot meals a week. Teachers and mentors also work with the parents to help these young people grow and develop. And even after graduation, the youth continue receiving support and guidance throughout their army service and one year beyond, until they enter a college study program or find employment.

For *Ayala, who never missed a ‘Horizon’ meeting, the enrichment program had a dramatic impact on her life.

“This program has changed me in the best possible way”, she told us. “In 10th grade, I was angry at the world without any desire to open up and grow, fearful of everything and particularly fearful of change. In general, I hated everyone and most of all myself. Now, in 12th grade, I am happy with life and have a great desire to experience new things. And even more than that, I love to go out and explore new things in new places and to learn as much as I can.”

“In the past, I wasn’t able to control my temper; today I know how to stop myself before it breaks out of control”, Ayala added. “Once I began to learn how to stay calm, my desires began to change, and I was able to deal with my fear of meeting new people or going outside of my comfort zone.”

Another student, *Shai, shared how privileged she felt to be part of the enrichment program and how it helped her gain confidence and open up to others.

“For the first time, I feel enough self-confidence to share my thoughts and feelings with others without fearing what people will say or if they will judge me,” said Shai.

Shai loves to sing, dances in the Jerusalem dance troupe, and often performs at school ceremonies. The extra assistance she received through “Touching the Horizon” has made all the difference. As she said: “I have the confidence to do what I love because this program gave me the tools and helped me believe in myself and my abilities.”

Thank you for supporting this program to help vulnerable Israeli youth chart a new course towards their horizon. Your support helps them reach their full potential on the way to becoming whole and independent adults.

Please continue to give at: on.icej.org/aid 

[*Names changed by request to protect the identities of the students.]