Special Needs Programming

We have extensive experience in the development and operation of national programs designed for special populations through various approaches and means including: professional guidance, group guidance, enrichment activities, leisure and social activities. All of these are part of the community in which the participants live and are conducted in a cultural and age-appropriate way.

The Amitim program provides social rehabilitation to people coping with mental disorders. Participants often feel threatened by welfare authorities, so the community center provides a “safe space” for participants to receive services, connect to others, and feel like part of the community.

The Ma’agalim (Circuits) program operates 59 clubs in the community for those with intellectual-developmental disabilities. The community club offers employment activities and opportunities, social activities of joint study with volunteers from the community, family’s joint journey and travel and tours in Israel and more.

The Re’im program runs 80 social groups across Israel that cater to over 800 young adults who face loneliness and social exclusion due to communication disabilities such as Autism and Asperger’s and learning disabilities. The groups hold weekly meetings and assist participants throughout the year in acquiring social skills, experience learning, forming friendships and social circles, belonging to the community, alleviating loneliness and improving quality of life and mental wellbeing for participants. 

These days, in accordance with the guidelines of the Ministry of Health, this form of social in-person activity is suspended. It is precisely during this extreme period of chaos, uncertainty, confusion and anxiety, that many of the participants may be experiencing serious loneliness, social isolation, and severe emotional distress without employment and routine activity that they depend on. This drastic change can lead this delicate and vulnerable population to seclusion and decline in mental functioning and well-being and can even lead to depression.

With this understanding and deep commitment, the program team, composed of psychologists, social workers and emotional therapists, have fully enlisted and begun immediate preparation for activities that are adjusted to the new and challenging reality. 

Meetings during this period are taking place on digital platforms, with the goal in mind first and foremost, to preserve the hard-working social frameworks for the participants, to keep in touch with them, and to provide coping and emotional response tools in a variety of ways: 

  • Virtual meetings take place, keeping the group routine and consistent conversation.  We plan on increasing the frequency of these meetings.
  • We set up a new Facebook group dedicated to program participants where relevant content will be uploaded. Participants are invited to take an active part.
  • The group coordinators have established regular contact with the participants to support and talk as needed, to help reduce anxiety, and to deal with the many tensions and fears that arise.
  • The coordinators contacted parents and accompanying parties, in order to keep track of the participants’ wellbeing and to offer a space for consultation and sharing.
  • We created a pool of ideas for ways to stay connected within the groups and help them deal with the “day-to-day”.
  • In this process, the coordinators keep in constant contact with the groups via WhatsApp. They create messaging groups, and upload videos, games, group tasks, agenda creation ideas and more.

There is a tremendous response from participants so far, and the feedback is excellent from the participants who are taking an active part in the virtual sessions. Many of them report significant relief. In addition, there is a considerable impact in their sense of ability and the discovery of new avenues of communication.