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About AKIM Israel

New Programs

Hydrotherapy and Aquatics Program for People with Developmental Disabilities

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AKIM Israel’s Sports Department operates sports services for people with developmental disabilities and protects their rights to enjoy quality sports services in the community and in out-of-home housing.

AKIM offers a variety of personal, team, competitive and popular sports activities for people with developmental disabilities in all types of educational rehabilitative institutions, by holding all-around sports days, single sport days, hikes, and bicycle journeys.

AKIM is also planning to set up long-term projects of rehabilitation programs involving movement and sports, such as horseback riding, aquatics, hydrotherapy, movement, and martial arts.

In addition the Department runs a special activities program for people with severe mental retardation who are confined to a wheelchair.

A person with a mental handicap but with no physical disabilities can almost reach the level of a normal child, if he gets proper treatment in accordance with his abilities and needs.

The main thing is to provide children with an opportunity to learn an appropriate physical skill.

Many studies performed on groups of youths with intellectual disabilities indicate that intensive and appropriate physical activity improve their motor abilities (improved muscle strength, power and stamina), and may even contribute to improved mental abilities.

Therefore, a focused, intensive physical education and sports program adapted to the abilities of the participating individual can contribute to that person’s progress and enable him or her to lead a fuller life. This can be attained through the development of tools for improving personal and group physical skills and through the creation of frameworks for demonstrating these skills in a climate of activity and fun.

Hydrotherapy and aquatics

Water is an environment in which conditions differ from those of the dry land where man spends most of his time. The water environment makes it possible for a person to become more intimately aware of his own body, which consists of an internal water environment. Being in the water is in a way like a return to the womb. It is a quite and peaceful environment which is however also threatening at the same time. In the water a person must cope with the fear of losing control, and in order to stay in the water it is necessary to undergo a process of reeducation and to learn how to properly interact with the water.

Performing activities in the water, whether in the form of hydrotherapy or swimming lessons, can help people with disabilities to use their muscles more efficiently, due to the horizontal position of the body, the specific gravity of water, and the reduction of the gravitational force. This brings about an increased self-confidence, improves self-awareness, enhances one’s self-esteem and the way one is perceived by others, and teaches more refined movement and obeying rules and regulations. In addition, aquatic activities together with members of a peer group will make it possible to combine physical and social aims simultaneously, and point out aspects of similarity and dissimilarity between people.

Special Employment: A Supportive Training and Employment Program For Intellectually Disabled Adults

Project Rationale

Work is an important part of every person’s life. It creates a routine, improves one’s self esteem and makes people feel vibrant and needed. We at AKIM believe that by assisting mentally handicapped adults find employment, they can improve their ability to fit into society and enhance their overall well-being. More specifically, employment can contribute to their welfare by building their self-confidence, fostering friendships, promoting financial independence and providing them with a sense of belonging.

As members of Israeli society, intellectually disabled individuals have the right to enjoy professional training. However, according to the Special Education Law, educational frameworks are designed to serve individuals with special needs until the age of 21. Yet, after reaching this age, young mentally handicapped individuals are in need of suitable frameworks, where their needs can be met, and these are scarce.

Target population

The Program targets graduates of special education schools aged 21 and above who are highly motivated to work and have the potential to do so. Participants are divided into groups of 13 and trained to perform various professional tasks according to their abilities. They are then placed to work in industrial companies in which they perform these tasks such as assembling products, packaging, labeling, etc. Each group receives the support of 2 instructors, who closely escort the “special workers” and help them to perform their tasks. These instructors also serve as the groups’ liaisons towards the employing company.

Project description

Participants work 5 days a week, between 8:00 to 15:00. They receive equitable compensation and all the social privileges that are given to other workers performing similar jobs such as transportation expenses, vacation days, benefits, etc. They also receive lunch at their place of work.

The uniqueness of the Program lies in that it combines the privilege of working in an outdoor facility, while enjoying all of the support and advantages of a sheltered work setting with accompanying on-site and as-needed support services, which are designed to help intellectually disabled individuals perform their job. This also enables them to interact with their close community and fulfill themselves not only personally but also socially.

The program will offer various professional tracks, allowing every special needs participant to expand his/her skills in a suitable area and become significantly more employable. In addition, the program will teach the participants basic life skills, which are vital for their full integration in society and for enhancing their independence.

Whereas supportive employment programs for the intellectually disabled often shut down after a short period of time, this Special Employment Program has been successfully operating for 4 years and there is a growing demand on behalf of many parents, who wish that their adult children join and benefit from it. It is therefore our goal to increase the number of mentally handicapped employees in each of the participating companies from 13 to 20. Additionally, in 2012 we intend to duplicate the Program to other locations in the country, specifically in the more distressed northern and southern parts that suffer from high unemployment rates. In such underprivileged locations, intellectually disabled adults are often left without any employment, thus they are prevented from experiencing personal development and from improving their life quality.

Because of this it is especially important that we locate potential employment places for them and help them receive the training necessary to incorporate in the working world. Our efforts towards this goal will also include expanding the Program to the Arab and Bedouin sectors, as well as among the Haredim (Orthodox) community.

Project’s objectives

  1. To train and place as many intellectually disabled adults as we can in supportive employment frameworks within various industrial companies throughout the country.
  2. To improve their self-image, motivation to work, and satisfaction with work.
  3. To increase the work force groups from 13 to 20 participants.
  4. To recruit 3 industrial companies to open their gates to special needs employees.
  5. To expand the Program to financially struggling communities in the northern and southern parts of the country and to incorporate intellectually disabled adults from the Arab, Bedouin and Haredi sectors.
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Community Center in Ramla

Ramla is a city in central Israel. The city is predominantly Jewish with a significant Arab minority. Ramla was founded circa 705–715 AD by the Umayyad Caliph Suleiman ibn Abed al-Malik after the Arab conquest of the region. Ramla lies along the route of the Via Maris, connecting old Cairo with Damascus, at the intersection of the roads connecting the port of Jaffa with Jerusalem.

According to the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), a total of 63,462 people were living in Ramla at the end of 2004. In 2001, the ethnic makeup of the city was 80% Jewish, 20% Arab (16% Muslim Arabs and 4% Christian Arabs). In 2001, there were 32,000 males and 30,000 females. The population breakdown by age was 36% in the 0–19 age bracket, 18% aged 20–29, 19% aged 30–44, 15% aged 45–59, 3% aged 60–64, and 9% aged 65 and older. The population growth rate in 2001 was 1.0%.

Ramla is the center of Karaite Judaism in Israel. In 2006, 12,000 Jewish immigrants from the former Soviet Union and 5,000 Ethiopian Jews were living in Ramla. Ramla also has about 2,000 Jewish residents descended from the Marathi-speaking Bene Israel community.

According to the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), at the end of 2009 the city had a total population of 63,462.

According to the Ministry of Welfare data, approximately 240 individuals, adults and children, are intellectually disabled. Out of that number, 80 adults live a semi-independent life in flats, when the other 160 – including about 100 children and 60 adults – are integrated in different frameworks in the community and are presenting various degree of intellectual handicap.

AKIM’s Branch in Ramla was established 10 years ago. From its inception, it is an address and a home for the families of individuals with intellectual impairment in the city. The families can always receive support and information at the Branch, and enjoy joint leisure activities. In addition, the Branch operates 4 weekly workshops and educational projects and a social club for intellectually handicapped youngsters. The Branch is administrated by representative parents, fully dedicated to provide answers to all the needs of the intellectual impaired in the city.

Today, all the activities offered to the intellectually handicapped take place in different facilities all over the city (the youth club, the center for young children, sport halls, the local high School, etc.), while the Branch consistently needs to search for new available locations. Consequence to that complex situation, part of the activities even takes place at the home of some of the Branch administration representatives. In light of those precarious operating conditions, there is an urgent need for the construction of a building that would host the Branch’s numerous advocacy and social activities and answer the families’ needs. It will represent a real home for the intellectually impaired and their family members.

The Ramla municipality has allocated a parcel to AKIM in the Herzel Municipal Community Center.

The new 200 sq. meter building dedicated to AKIM Ramla will became an integral part of the whole municipal Community Center.

The new AKIM Center will include activity rooms, therapeutic rooms, a hall for event celebration, adapted bathrooms and shower and an office for the branch. Please note that the basic principle of this building is that people with intellectual disability are an integrative part of the community in which they live and therefore should feel equal to their peers.

The new AKIM integral center in Ramla will host the following activities:

  1. Day play facility– specialized play facilities, developed by MILBAT (a non-profit organization – the Israeli center for technology and accessibility), providing an enjoyable and safe play experience with maximum independence for children and adolescents with special needs.  The facilities are part of MILBAT’s “Mamaleh” project (MILBAT play facility for children with special needs) operated on a fully volunteer basis.
  2. Courses– courses on a variety of subjects for 40 children with a mental handicap. The courses operated by the branch will be on music and drumming. These courses constitute significant enrichment activity for the children, and “time-out” and a breathing space for the parents.
  3. Activity run by Youth Movement– the youth of Ramla run a youth movement for children with special needs.  The youth movement holds weekly educational-experiential activity for about 30 children people with a mental handicap. The children participating in the activity look forward to it and enjoy it very much.
  4. The “Good Guys” project– this is a social group, combining about 8 adults (21 years old or more) with a mental handicap and volunteer youth.  The group meets once a week, and the volunteers and the guys decide together on the content of the activity. The purpose of the project is to enrich the guys’ social lives and to create a supportive, encouraging and empowering environment for them. In addition, the group teaches the value of contribution to the community, and goes out together on volunteering projects. The project was established on the initiative of the young people; it is presently operated on a regular basis by them and will be managed by young people in the future. The project is run in cooperation with AKIM, the Community Center Youth Unit and the Municipality’s Social Services Division.
  5. Lectures, study days and parents’ support group– the Ramla branch of AKIM constitute a source of information and support for parents of children and adults with a mental handicap.  Every six weeks the branch holds enrichment lectures for parents on subjects such as – guardianship and wills, rights, resuscitation, parenting and the like. In addition, the branch holds study days for parents and professionals in association with the Welfare Department of the city, as well as parents’ support groups when the need arises.
  6. Summer camp– each year at the end of the school year the Ramla branch of AKIM holds a summer camp for children with a mental handicap. The summer camp lasts for two weeks and constitutes a significant solution for parents, who can continue to work during that period.  At the camp the children enjoy varied and rich activities, including hikes and trips to various attractions.
  7. Regular activity of the AKIM branch– in order to maintain the extensive activity of the branch, the branch management holds regular meetings, work meetings with various partners (Welfare, Municipality, Project Operators and the like), equipment for activities is stored, candy packs are sold and the proceeds are used for the activity, etc.  These activities are presently held in the homes of management members, wherein there is no sufficient room.  The building will also serve for these activities.

Recreation Programs for Intellectually Disabled in Nursing Care

RATIONALE & GOAL

For the families of disabled persons in Israel a holiday and recreation is a real necessity, providing a sense of relief and rest throughout the year

For the intellectually disabled in nursing care it is a much difficult task but very much needed break from the tiring routine at their home or the institution they live in.

ACTIVITY:

Arranging outings, holidays and recreation programs for elderly intellectually disabled

AKIM Israel has undertaken a new pilot project that will provide short holidays, recreation and outing programs at attractive spots, with recreational and entertainment programming for 32 elderly intellectually disabled in nursing care

TARGET GROUP

We intend to start with a pilot program for 32 intellectually disabled in wheel chairs, some of them never went out or had a holiday.

Medical Training

AKIM has started a project at the Israel Center for Medical Simulation with the aim to improve intellectually disabled patient-safety and the clinical skills of healthcare providers towards our sensitive population

The problem: Medical consultations are replete with conflicts; this issue is particularly enhanced in the current era of explicit and implicit rationing practices in health care organizations especially when doctors deal with intellectually disabled patients.

The project: A review of current techniques reveals that simulation can successfully promote the competencies of medical expert, communicator and collaborator.

AKIM Israel together with MSR are developing the exact role of simulation as a training mechanism for scholarly skills, professionalism, management and health advocacy that will provide the additional proper training to the medical staff, who need to treat the intellectually population in much more inclusive and human terms.

MSR, the Israel Center for Medical Simulation is a world leader in simulation-based medical education (SBME) and patient safety training. Through new approaches to healthcare training and practice, MSR strives to improve patient-safety and the clinical skills of healthcare providers. By proactively exposing trainees to challenging clinical and humanistic encounters, MSR aims to reduce errors and improve the quality of care and teamwork.  The name MSR has a double meaning, it is the Hebrew acronym for “National Medical Simulation Center”, and it is also the Hebrew word meaning to “convey an important message”.

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