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About AKIM Israel

AKIM Israel


64 branches serving as support and educational centers for 120,000 intellectually disabled family members.

AKIM provides parents with counseling and psychological support on matters such as government benefits to which the intellectually disabled are entitled, how to apply to get those benefits, how to lobby for changes in welfare laws, solving everyday problems, and coping with strain and distress.

Self-Advocacy Groups for the Intellectually Disabled

AKIM believes that with proper support and assistance, intellectually disabled people can be provided with needed decision-making skills, and leaders can be found among them who will take responsibility for their quality of life.

AKIM, in cooperation with the Department for the Mentally Challenged in the Ministry of Welfare, is developing a model program for moderately handicapped adults living in hostels.  Those who are capable, wholly or partially, of performing the tasks of every day living and possessing verbal skills will meet as a group with a social worker.  The goal of this group will be to gain self-confidence, develop faith in their abilities, and find they can manage a good portion of their own lives.  It is hoped that this program will be replicated throughout Israel.

Parent Leadership Development

AKIM is constantly seeking a way to increase the number of volunteers and train them to open new branches.  This two-phased program entails organizing and training groups of parents of children with a mental handicap to become active on their own behalf and encouraging them to become chairpersons of local AKIM branches throughout the country.

AKIM’s “Parents for Parents” project support groups help new parents deal with the all the issues involved in rearing an intellectually disabled child.

Training brothers and sisters 

Helping disabled persons to act as mature brothers/sisters within the family. This brother/sister should give full attention to the normative brother/sister helping him in his studies, in developing social skills with his peer group and develop the sibling relationships within the family.

Kindergartens and Day Nurseries for Infants and Toddlers

Teachers skilled in the most advanced methods of teaching the handicapped, give infants and young children up to age 3 the caring and specialized attention needed to help improve their motor, cognitive and communicative skills.  This work is vital in preparing the children for a more formal school setting.


After-School Activities for Children and Teens

Our staff trained in working with the intellectually disabled has developed a wide array of after-school activities adapted to their special needs.  These include kayaking, dancing, swimming, painting, sculpture, drama and dance.  These activities give parents a needed break and children an opportunity to develop their skills and make friends in a supportive environment.


Higher Education

The “Ofek” program was developed by AKIM in collaboration with the University of Haifa, the Ministry of Welfare and the Ministry of Education. This educational program provides the intellectually disabled over the age of 21 the opportunity to gain professional knowledge and social skills.

Social clubs for 2000 adults

The social clubs provide opportunities to intellectually disabled adults for social interaction and normalization.   Meeting on a regular basis two to three times a week, the centers offer sessions of arts and crafts, music and dancing.  Many clubs use local community centers for their meetings in order to help the public to become more aware and understanding of people suffering from mental disabilities.


Dental Care Program

The program offers dental treatments to persons with a mental handicap who come from low socio-economic backgrounds. The program offers them dental care that would otherwise not be available to them.  The program eases the financial burden of their families and improves their quality of life.

3 new fully equipped Dental Clinics for Intellectually disabled are needed around the country.

Occupational Training Program for Intellectually Disabled Individuals

At AKIM, employment is seen as a service, which should accommodate each individual according to his personal abilities and skills. AKIM provides four frameworks for employment: employment in Social Centers, sheltered workshops, special employment in companies, and job placement in the open market.

1) Employment in Social CentersFor approximately 840 people with severe disabilities, AKIM provides a work-therapy environment housed at Social Centers throughout Israel. In small groups with close supervision, AKIM clients are able to complete simple vocational tasks

2) Sheltered Workshops: AKIM operates 68 sheltered workshops for approximately 2,500 individuals each year. On average each workshop employs 30 to 60 workers.  This framework provides a supportive environment, enabling the intellectually disabled to perform at their functional level.

In order to ensure high levels of performance, each employee must meet minimum requirements for attention, behavior and skills. Often these positions entail handling repetitive and labor intensive positions such as preparing utensil packets for airlines, assembling electrical plugs for a private company, or filling candy bags.

3) Special Employment within the Business Community: This vocational framework is for high functioning intellectually disabled and is located within commercial companies with extensive guidance and support by AKIM staff members.

4) Open Market Employment: Supported employment within the free market is intended for individuals graduating from the sheltered workshop program.  The Ministry of Welfare and Social Security department supports this program.

Each year, approximately 600 sheltered workshop employees are placed into open market positions. Individuals with disabilities who are employed in the open market also receive job counseling before the job is obtained and supervision once employed, continued vocational training, and support for parents and family members. Each employee is provided guidance up to the point where they feel comfortable working alone.


Intellectually Disabled pilot program – Volunteering for the Army

The IDF and military service are among the core values of Israeli society. For most Israeli citizens service in the IDF is a foundational experience. We believe that it is important that developmentally challenged people should also have this experience, within the limits of their abilities and needs.

Positive exposure to people with a mental handicap who make a contribution to the IDF helps promote an affirmative attitude towards such people on the part of our youth, and combat the stereotypical conceptions, which have accompanied them so far.

Summer Camps for 2000 teenagers and young adults

For the families of disabled persons, a vacation is a real necessity, providing a sense of relief and rest.  For the person with a mental handicap it is a much-needed break from the trying routine at home.  Each year, 2000 intellectually disabled teen-agers and young adults from 50 different towns in Israel enjoy six-day stays at popular summer resorts with caring, capable and responsible supervision. There are 10 groups of 200 vacationers each, with a staff ratio of one supervisor for every two intellectually disabled persons.   They stay in hotels and guesthouses in resort areas such as the Galilees, Sea of Galilee or the Mediterranean beach.  Days and nights are filled with activities and fun.

Programs for Minority Populations

AKIM seeks to provide all Israeli citizens with equal opportunities — including providing needed services and programs to the intellectually disabled in minority populations throughout the country.

It is estimated that the occurrence of intellectual disabilities doubles for Arab populations compared with Jewish populations in Israel (7.5 per 1000The contributing factors of this anomaly are: high rates of genetic disorders resulting from a tradition of in-marriage, advanced ages of mothers at the time of birth, increased occurrences of brain damage as a result of premature birth, and the minimal use of medical abortions

AKIM provides sports programs, therapeutic services, occupational therapy and guidance for parents. AKIM will be creating a social center in the Bedouin community of Rahat.

Supporting Families

AKIM is familiar with the hardships and obstacles that families with an intellectually disabled member face. Services include:

Support Line

AKIM coordinates a free national hotline “Parents for Parents” in Hebrew and Arabic, (1-800-399-333), staffed by parents of intellectually disabled children who have undergone counseling training. The hotline provides every caller with warm emotional support, advice from personal experience, and information and referrals to appropriate professionals and organizations.

Parents Workshops

The aim of the Parents Workshops is to empower the parents of intellectually disabled children and provide them with the tools to cope with their daily tasks.

Parent Leadership Development

AKIM is constantly seeking ways to increase the number of volunteers and train them to open new branches.  This two-phased program entails organizing and training groups of parents of intellectually disabled children to become active on their own behalf and encouraging them to become chairpersons of local AKIM branches throughout the country.

Support for Family Members

In addition to parent support groups, AKIM has developed a unique program for brothers and sisters of intellectually disabled children. Family members who are tending to the needs of their intellectually disabled child often overlook these children. In response, AKIM provides siblings with a place to do school work and make friends. This project also gives siblings a place to speak about their feelings and work on creating positive relationships with their family.


Providing families and individuals with intellectual disabilities respite from daily life is an important role for AKIM. For those with disabilities, it provides an opportunity to escape the monotonous routine of daily life. For families, it provides a much-needed break from the emotional and physical strain of providing constant care.


Every year, AKIM arranges a six-day summer vacation at appealing locations with recreational programming and entertainment. On average these short vacations attract 2,000 adults.

Family Vacations – this unique initiative brings together families of the intellectually disabled. In a warm and supportive environment, the family members can get to know each other and share their experiences.

Vacations for Adults – during the summer months, AKIM offers a 1- week vacation for adults with intellectual disability. Participants enjoy the hospitality, trips and attractions specially organized and managed by AKIM staff and volunteers.

Youth Summer Camp – Each year, AKIM organizes a summer camp for 2,000 children and young adults.  The campers receive a week of supervised fun and entertainment.

Adoptive Families

Individuals who have been abandoned by their families often live in institutions and are deprived of supportive familial relationships. AKIM arranges short term, home hospitality for 250 of these individuals on weekends and national holidays (once every month and on Rosh Hashanah and Passover).

AKIM INFO – The Book of Rights

The book of rights- “AKIM INFO” provides a complete informational guide to these rights and services available for the intellectually disabled and their families. This book was written by AKIM’s legal team and is distributed throughout Israel free of charge.

Promoting Rights

Since its inception, AKIM has actively promoted the rights of the intellectually disabled and their families in government offices, the legal system and local authorities. With commitment and dedication, AKIM has made and continues to make significant progress in changing attitudes towards people with intellectual disabilities and lobbies the government to provide needed services and support.

Legal Services

AKIM’s nation-wide legal department works with local branches, providing legal information, support and guidance. The department also offers legal services to families in their dealings with local authorities and vigorously seeks judicial relief when appropriate.

AKIM believes that the intellectually disabled deserve to live their lives in an environment that suits their needs, age and ability. To address the diverse levels of independence, AKIM operates a wide range of services that help people feel at home.

AKIM serves as legal guardian to approximately 1,300 intellectually disabled people who have been abandoned, orphaned or taken out of their parents’ custody.

An AKIM staff member, acting as a loving parent, accompanies them to the doctor, takes care of their financial affairs, and their day-to-day needs.


AKIM’s housing solutions are designed to strike the delicate balance between the residents’ privacy and the importance of a social life.  All AKIM housing options are established within neighborhoods in Israel enabling AKIM residents to better integrate into the wider community.

Group Homes
AKIM has built 24 group homes throughout Israel that provide supervised accommodation for 600 moderately to severely intellectually disabled individuals.  Each home can accommodate approximately 25 adults. This is their home; it is also the place where they acquire the confidence and basic skills to help function in mainstream society.

Independent Apartments
AKIM has 14 apartment units that hold 6 residents each. These apartments are for those people who can live independently with some supervision and support. 

Senior Hostels
In recent years, the lifespan of those with intellectual disabilities has increased, averaging 55 for those who live in facilities, and 65 for those who live at home. This increase is due to improved health care and social services for this population. These elderly individuals have unique and changing needs, and require a facility geared to them. AKIM’s Senior Hostels provide:

  • Therapeutic services
  • Nursing and medical care
  • Psychological and social services
  • Meals and maintenance
  • Laundry and cleaning services
  • Rehabilitation treatments
  • Social activities and sports


“Special Sports”

AKIM’s “Special Sports” is active in 200 sites around Israel.  Ten AKIM coaches along with fifty additional coaches paid for by local councils and Social Security, train individuals with a mental handicap to compete in sporting activities.


Horse-Riding Therapy

Riding a specially trained horse can be an exhilarating experience for a person with intellectual disabilities.  It improves motor and sensory skills and enhances the rider’s sense of achievement and self-image.  The riding sessions, working in small groups of five persons each of all ages, will take place in riding stables throughout Israel capable of working with special groups.

Equipment for Sport and Coordination Improvement

Tricycles, helmets, and bicycles as well as storage for the equipment will be obtained for as many intellectually disabled children as possible across the country.

Art Classes in Graphic Arts

This initiative will encourage adults with a mental handicap with strong artistic potential to express their artistic talent in the graphic arts.  This five-day intensive program of instructional activities will include boarding in guest rooms adjacent to art centers in Israel, professional instruction and materials.


Performing Arts

AKIM’s acclaimed “The Other Theater” was formed ten years ago to give young people and adults with potential in dramatic acting a place to develop their skills.  This specially chosen troupe of talented actors are directed and assisted by professionals in the area of drama and stage production. The troupe meets twice a week for rehearsals at the AKIM Center in Tel Aviv, and holds two to three performances a month at locations throughout the country.  They have appeared in a number of international festivals including the Los Angeles “Very Special Arts International Festival” in 1998 and the European Festival for the Mentally Disabled in Montpellier, France in 1999.

Their performances, in addition to developing their expressive skills, have helped change the public’s perception of the intellectually disabled, leading to an increased willingness to accept that segment of the population into the wider society.

Capital Programs

New Hostels for the Middle-Aged in Tel-Aviv and Ashkelon

Each hostel will have a capacity for 20-24 elderly intellectually disabled in need of therapeutic and nursing care above the age of forty and suffering from marked functional deterioration.  Each hostel will provide a full range of medical, therapeutic, and psychosocial services as well as social activities and appropriate sports.

  • New Social center to be built in Nahariya, Ramla, & Afek
  • New Garden and Playground needed the AKIM hostel in Rehovot
  • All the new social centers needed are located in distressed neighborhoods, and the need for recreation for the handicapped adults is acute.

We would be very grateful if you consider supporting our efforts in any of these projects and would be happy to provide you with any further information you may need.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Daniel Bar-am

International Director

AKIM Israel

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