Of the 2.6 million children and youth growing up in Israel, an estimated 400,000 are considered “at risk.” These are youngsters whose welfare is in jeopardy due to environmental factors. They have been exposed to circumstances and dangers that have installed in them a sense of fear, failure and alienation from society.
Etgarim seeks to integrate the at-risk population into society before their situation becomes irreversible. Etgarim invites at-risk youth to participate in a leadership development program that uses challenging outdoor activities to teach healthy ways of coping and achieving success. Through this program the youngsters experience enhanced self-confidence and self-worth, increasing their motivation to integrate fully into Israeli society.
The leadership development program, for at-risk adolescents aged 15 through 18, combines challenging outdoor sports with group facilitation by trained counselors and volunteers. The main goals of the program are to develop the participants’ belief in themselves, strengthen their sense of self control and teach them life and communication skills. The participants learn how to cooperate as a team, make group and individual decisions and solve critical problems, while having fun in outdoor sporting activities.
These activities take place throughout the year for a total of 20 meetings (4 hours each) in small groups of 15. Activities include rock climbing, surfing, camping, navigating, cycling, sailing and canoeing.