How important is the inclusion of music and the arts in general, to a child’s development. We think vital.
Created and operated by The Jaffa Institute, Musical Minds is a well-established program that introduces underprivileged, at-risk children in Israel, to the arts.
This program aims at providing assistance and encouragement to disadvantaged youth. The participants come from diverse backgrounds and are living in some of the most impoverished neighbourhoods in Israel.
Well designed, the program helps participants develop social skills, self-esteem, and self-sufficiency. The objective is to provide the stepping stones necessary for them reach their full potential. Nutritional support is an important part of each program.
Musical Minds, a recreational program, is offered through The Jaffa Institute’s After-School Educational Enrichment Centres for at-risk youth in Jaffa, South Tel-Aviv, and Bat Yam. In addition, this arts program is provided in one public school in Bat Yam, a vulnerable area.
Musical Minds is aimed at children aged three-12 and encourages them to immerse themselves two times a week in one of a wide range of arts subjects.
The children can choose from an exciting and extensive menu – music, drawing, sculpture, arts and crafts, as well as photography, video animation, drama and movement. Instruction is by trained professionals.
Finely tuned, the music offering includes lessons on a wide range of musical instruments- keyboard, flute, guitar, and drums. There is also training in vocals.
To ensure that each child receives individualized attention, the instructors provide lessons to only three to four children at a time. The other children in the program are given academic assistance, until it is their turn to participate in Musical Minds.
The lessons for Musical Minds are from one to four hours in length, determined by each After-School Education Enrichment Centre’s schedule and the children’s needs.
In context, this recreational program complements many of the other important programs that we support for at-risk youth.
The Jump Start Program recognizes the fundamental importance of a solid education to creating a successful adult. Focused on at-risk youth, Jump Start is a well-established, well-designed and highly-successful program.
Launched in 2015, by The Jaffa Institute, Jump Start: Transitional Enrichment Program for At-Risk Adolescents, addresses both the educational and emotional needs of its participants.
Targeting youth ages 11-18, this program helps students to successfully transition from elementary school to middle school to high school.
Jump Start is offered in impoverished neighbourhoods in Jaffa, South Tel Aviv, Bat Yam and Yehud. The adolescents attending the program come from diverse backgrounds, including Ethiopian-Israeli families.
Through this comprehensive program, students receive strong support from seasoned professionals to help them overcome the economic, cultural or linguistic barriers, which they face.
In addition to struggling with poverty, some 50% of the students in the Jump Start program have diagnosed special needs. Many others have learning issues that have gone unattended.
To overcome the students’ academic challenges, Jump Start’s tutors assist in core subjects such as math, science, English and Hebrew. Instruction is on a one-on-one basis. A cultural component is added, through specially designed field trips.
To help with their emotional issues, each tutoring session opens with a personal discussion about the student’s day. The idea is to promote a positive rapport between staff and student, to enable the tutor to identify and address any social pressures troubling the student.
By design, Jump Start immerses its participants, on a daily basis, in the social and academic aspects of life for young people in Israel. As the program unfolds and the students start to see progress, it motivates them to try harder.
At the same time, they are encouraged to give back, by volunteering in the educational enrichment of younger people enrolled in The Jaffa Institute’s After-School Educational Enrichment Centres.
At the end of the school year, Jump Start officially recognizes its students’ progress at a special ceremony. For many of these adolescents, it is their first time receiving an academic award.
Importantly, their success helps to inspire others. Jump Start participants serve as valuable role models in their communities, having themselves successfully broken out of the cycle of poverty, into which they were born.
The Stepping Stone Program is a multi-faceted program aimed at assisting at-risk teenage girls, ages 13-15.
The majority of these teenagers come from homes where their parents are unable to provide them with either financial or emotional support.
Some of the program participants are not even in contact with one or both of their parents, who, in some cases, are incarcerated or suffer from substance abuse. Participants are referred to the program by the municipal social welfare authorities in the areas where this program is offered.
In partnership with Yehud municipality in South Tel Aviv, The Jaffa Institute began operating The Stepping Stone Project in 2017. It has since been expanded to include an additional site in Yehud. The Jaffa Institute has also launched a similar program in Bat Yam, in partnership with the municipality.
The Stepping Stone program’s staff includes an experienced program manager and dedicated counsellors. The unique structure of this program ensures that the staff are able to provide each teenage girl with individual attention and strong support. The program is offered in a warm, home-like environment to make the participants feel comfortable and encourage them to share their problems.
During the school year, these young people are provided with in-depth tutoring to help them complete their schoolwork. Many of the participants have major academic gaps, due to absences from school.
In addition to this academic assistance, regular group therapy sessions are held. These create a safe space for the girls to share experiences and help each other. Stepping Stone has also developed social enrichment activities to encourage the participants to make friends.
Finally, this all-encompassing program provides empowerment workshops covering a wide range of topics to provide information on key subjects and stimulate discussion. The topics include: nutrition; relationships and women’s health; art and dance; self-defence and cyber safety; and alcohol and drug abuse.
In all, this comprehensive and much-needed program empowers seriously disadvantaged teenage girls to grow into confident, responsible and successful young women.
The Science Mobile Project
The Science Mobile Program aims to introduce disadvantaged children to the world of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. This innovative program provides children from diverse backgrounds in Jaffa, South Tel-Aviv, Bat Yam and Yehud, with state-of-the-art learning tools in these disciplines.
Recreational vehicle trailers are out-fitted with cutting-edge technologies and these vehicles travel on a rotating schedule to the After-School Educational Enrichment Centres for at-risk youth, as well as to underserved local public schools.
There are three types of these traveling laboratories: The Science Mobile; The Space Mobile; and a Mobile Cooking laboratory. The aim of the latter is to provide participants with opportunities to discover the wonders of science, through cooking.
Each Science Mobile vehicle accommodates 10 students, allowing the instructor to provide this small group with individualized support.
Community Food Distribution
The Community Food Distribution Project targets the widespread hunger found in Jaffa and South Tel Aviv in Israel and focusses on providing food to those in need year-round and during major Jewish holidays. In some of the most disadvantaged areas of the country, an unfortunate 50% of the population lives below the poverty line. Not surprisingly, many families in this community experience significant food insecurity.
After-School Programs (Moadan)
The Moadon is an after-school program, provided from 6-9pm three days per week to 18 at-risk boys aged 13-16, who reside in Tel-Aviv.
To be eligible to participate in the program, all of the teenage boys must have been identified as having been involved in risky situations as a result of their troubled backgrounds and in need of social-emotional, nutritional, and educational support to overcome their challenges.
To empower program participants by providing them with opportunities to advance academically, personally, and socially.
To prevent the program participants from engaging in risky and destructive behavior, thereby protecting them from dangerous situations.
To facilitate the development of healthy social connections and meaningful relationships between the teenage boys and the individuals in their lives.
The Playground Project
The Jaffa Institute has established a new After-School Educational Enrichment Center in the city of Yehud. Its goal is to provide children in the area, including children from Special Education schools, with therapeutic, academic and nutritional support. The children often exhibit behavioural issues such as aggression, short attention spans, and restlessness. Playing and exercising outdoors is an effective way to address these issues. Children in the catchment area of the Yehud Center have few opportunities to play outside and exert their energy in a productive manner.
The Canadian Friends of the Jaffa Institute (CFJI) has, as one of its projects, the provision of outdoor recreational facilities for the Center, so as to offer the children a safe, interesting way to play and exercise. The Jewish National Fund of Toronto has been most generous in its support of this important CFJI initiative. Under the auspices of JNF Toronto, the Schwarz Family of Toronto has sponsored a state-of-the-art playground in the front of the center and a new basketball court near the rear of the building, in memory of Carrie, Suzanne and Otto Schwarz.