News Archive 2010
Members of the Supportive Community for People with Disabilities in Israel Enjoy an Outing at the Hula Nature Reserve
Thirty-three (33) members of the Kiryat Shemona Supportive Community for the Disabled accompanied by family members enjoyed an outing at the Hula Nature Reserve, which is accessible for people with disabilities. All the members, each with differing abilities, enjoyed the exploring the natural environment of the park, watching the audio-visual presentation about the Reserve and taking part in a communal picnic among the eucalyptus trees. The social activities offered as part of the basket of services through the Supportive Community for the Disabled includes three outings a year.
For some members of the community this is their only opportunity to visit parks and other heritage sites.
The President hosts disabled leaders at the Iftar feast
Every year the president hosts an Iftar feast during the month of Ramadan for notables and leaders from the Muslim community.
For the second year in a row, cooperation between the Masira program of the JDC-Division for Disabilities and Rehabilitation and the President's office, led to the inclusion of disabled leaders from the Arab community in the event. These included disabled activists from Sakhnin (Al Manal and the Center for Independent Living) and the south (Equality and Justice Organization and Center for Independent Living in Beersheva) who thanked the President.
Arabic Hebrew and Sign Language – All in One Meeting
The end-of-year event of "women leading change" an empowerment group for Bedouin women who are deaf was conducted in three languages simultaneously – Arabic, Hebrew and sign language. Over 100 people participated in the event: Bedouin women and men who are deaf and family members. The women spoke about how the experience in the group provided them with the opportunity to meet others like themselves, to learn about their rights and services available for people who are deaf and the courage to leave the isolation of the home. "We gained self-confidence, we learned that we can dream and to turn the dream into a reality, we can work, study, and raise a family, we learned about our rights and how to share that knowledge with other women who may need it, we met people who are deaf from other parts of the country." The group is an activity of the "Masira – Journey" program for the advancement of the status of people with disabilities in the Arab society in Israel was conducted through a partnership of the Division for Disabilities and Rehabilitation of JDC-Israel, The Institute for the Advancement of Deaf People, the Hura Community Center and with the assistance of Dr. Alfred Bader
Health and Function Promotion Among People with Disabilities
A "Brainstorming" meeting on "Health Promotion, Prevention and Function Among People with Disabilities" was held at the beginning of May as part of the developmental phase of the Disabilities and Chronic Illness Area of Israel Unlimited. This new area focuses on the needs of adults with disabilities who are at higher risk for and have chronic illness, and people with chronic illness which may limit their daily function and people with multiple disabilities. Participating in the meeting were professionals, among them people with disabilities, from a number of fields: health promotion, rehabilitation, adapted physical activity, nutrition, accessibility and others. The purpose of the meeting was for mutual acquaintances and learning and setting the stage for future collaboration.
Community Support ("120 Strong")
Eshel and the Division for Disabilities and Rehabilitation began a "Community Support" ("120 Strong") program that is a partnership of JDC, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Services and the Ministry of Health. The program is based on the "120 Strong" program that was implemented during "Operation Cast Lead". During this time of relative quiet, the program is being adapted in order to be prepared to respond to the needs of the elderly and disabled people who live in the community during future emergencies. The Community Support program will identify and collect information on elderly and disabled people in the municipality, will create a core group of volunteers to work during the emergencies and will coordinate the efforts in the event of an emergency. The program, which is supported by the emergency fund of the JFNA, will help establish the model and will be implemented for a year and a half in three locations: Beer Sheva, Netivot and the Shaar Hanegev Regional Council.
"Accessible Community" celebrates a decade of activity
In mid-January, the Accessible Community program held a conference celebrating a decade of activity. The program seeks to promote equal opportunities for people with disabilities through improved accessibility (physical, social, informational, policy-making) and increased participation in community life. There are 50 Accessible Communities in Israel with over 700 volunteer activists.
Partnering in the Accessible Community program are: the Division for Disabilities and Rehabilitation, JDC-Israel; the Association of Community Centers; the Ministry for Social Affairs and Social Services; the National Insurance Institute; the Ministry of Health; the Ministry of Education; and the local authorities.At the conference, Nahum Itzkovitz, the Director General of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Services, announced that he will work towards establishing an additional 25 Accessible Communities.
"A Warm Winter"
The Hadassah Women's Organization adopted the Supportive Community for People with Disabilities in Karmiel and assist in organizing the social activities for the Community. Among other things, the Hadassah women and the women members of the Supportive Community meet every other week. They decided to have a joint knitting club.
At the initiative of one of the women members of the Supportive Community, a widow who is disabled and who has a son who is disabled, they decided to give the items they knitted to IDF soldiers.
Inter-faith Cooperation to Promote the Status of Disabled in the Arab Society
Two hundred religious leaders - Muslims, Druze, Christians - and people with disabilities and professionals, gathered in Nazareth, in a first of its kind inter-faith conference, to advance the status of the disabled in the Arab society in Israel. The conference was the culmination of three years of cooperation between the Masira program of the Division for Disabilities and Rehabilitation at JDC Israel, the Division of Religious Communities of the Ministry of Interior, and the Masar Institute.The deputy director of the Al Shams radio station, Nabil Salame, said in a panel of media people: "The fact that so many important religious leaders gathered here shows that the issues of people with disabilities are on the agenda of the Arab society and we in the media should give it greater prominence".
In the conference the religious leaders called toward change in the status of the disabled, breaking stereotypes and the need for inter-faith cooperation to achieve the change.
A panel of women with disabilities requested that the religious leaders take concrete steps that would help disabled women to integrate into the society, study, work and raise a family. The Imams in response asked the women to guide them in better understanding their unique needs.
"Safe House" for People with Disabilities – An Experimental Program
Ninety economically distressed families with disabilities in Sderot, Be'er Sheva, Beit She'an and the Emek Hama'ayanot Regional Council benefit from a project aimed at improving the safety, accessibility and quality of life of people with disabilities in their homes. The project includes essential repairs, simple renovations, painting, installing new assistive devices and adaptations in the homes of people with disabilities whose apartments are in disrepair.
The partners in the experimental project enabled by a gift to JDC include: Division for Disabilities and Rehabilitation, local authorities, the operators of Supportive Communities for People with Disabilities, Amigour and Amidar, which are public housing agencies (which partly fund the repairs), the Milbat center for technology and accessibility, the Gvanim Association for Education & Community Involvement and the Equality and Justice for the Disabled Association. Using knowledge accumulated through the Besevah Tova program for impoverished elderly and the Mishol program promoting community solidarity in distressed areas, the model developed forms the infrastructure for wider implementation in the future.
News Archive 2009
Volunteerism in the Supportive Community for People with Disabilities in Israel
Asaf*, a blind person who is a member of the Supportive Community s in Sderot, wanted to find work as a telephone receptionist. Ronen*, a student at Sapir College in Sderot, was paired with Asaf by the community staff. At first, Ronen formed a close, friendly relationship with Asaf and later he accompanied him to the offices of the Supportive Community to gain practical experience as a telephone receptionist and helped him overcome accessibility barriers.
* Names changed to protect privacy.
Asaf and Ronen are just one example of volunteering through the Supportive Community. 50 volunteers, including many people with disabilities, give of their time and abilities for the benefit of other area volunteer members who provide ongoing assistance and accompaniment on errands, help with repairs and cooking at home, mentoring the children of fellow members in subjects such as computers, homework preparation, getting off to school in the mornings, etc. Lately, special evenings honoring the volunteers were conducted in Kiryat Gat and Be'er Sheva.
Yehezkel Yitzhak, a member of the Supportive Community for People with Disabilities in Kiryat Shemona and a volunteer, said: "I have a volunteer who has helped me for 30 years. I never understood what motivates him and why he does it with such devotion. Now that I volunteer through the Supportive Community and the Accessible Community, I understand. Volunteering has given me a lot of satisfaction and empowerment.
Meeting of 14 Disabled for Disabled NGOs Addressing the Economic Crisis Implications
The conference was conducted at JDC Israel in early May, initiated by the Division for Disabilities and Rehabilitation, JDC-ELKA (the JDC Israel – Israeli government partnership for the development of Israel's public sector) and the center for Volunteer Leadership. The topic of the conference was coping with the economic crisis. Guest speakers, Henry Posko and Cindy Plavier-Truitt of the Humanim organization of Baltimore, which develops and provides community services for people with disabilities with the assistance of the Weinberg Foundation, lectured on the American third sector's ways of coping with the economic crisis. Solutions adopted by various organizations include: hiring freezes, reducing the basket of services to clients, transferring services to other providers, creating a larger internal market (economy of scale), freezing grants and developing new channels of cooperation. Their main recommendation to organizations was to utilize the period of crisis, despite the freezing of grants, to maintain donor contacts, keep them updated and encourage dialog.In photo from right to left: Cindy Plavier-Truitt and Henry Posko of the Humanim organization, together with Ronnie Shechter, Chairman of the Israeli Human Rights Organization of People with Disabilities
Increasing Activities on Behalf of People with Mental Illness Living in the Community
People with mental illness (some 60,000 individuals) comprise 32% of the National Insurance Institute's monthly disability allowance recipients. With the support of the Ministry of Health and the Tauber Foundation, the JDC-Division for Disabilities and Rehabilitation expanded its existing programs to meet the needs of people living with mental illness. The Supportive Communities increased the number of people living with mental illness participating in the program. At the same time, it worked towards ensuring the sustainability of service for this population, conducted professional training to reduce stigma vis-a-vis people with mental illness and to increase their integration in the community. An additional gift by the Tauber Foundation will enable the Division for Disabilities and Rehabilitation, in partnership also with the Ministry of Health, to develop a program assisting people with mental illness in Arab society in the framework of the Masira program.