Elena discovers her talents in Israel’s “Youth Futures”

December 5, 2013 | Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit

Elena was born in the Caucasus Mountains and made aliyah to Israel with her family when she was four years old. Now 13, she lives with her mother, grandmother and younger brother in Migdal HaEmek. A quiet child, Elena kept to herself and rarely participated in community activities. At school she was a poor student, withdrawn and unfocused in class.

All this changed when one of her teachers recommended Elena for Youth Futures, a program launched by JAFI to provide early intervention for Israel’s growing at-risk population of children. Through the program, Elena was matched with Einav, a trustee from her Migdal HaEmek neighborhood. Einav regularly spent a couple of days a week with Elena, developing a close relationship with both her and her mother. Einav arranged weekly meetings for Elena with a learning specialist and registered her for an after school drama class. Einav also enrolled Elena’s mother into a community job service organization, which ultimately found her a job.

Today, Elena is a different person. She has a network of friends and is active in class. Her grades have significantly improved. Her mother is still employed and after a long and difficult journey, the family’s future is hopeful. The ultimate goal of this ground-breaking program is to instill in every child the belief that he or she possesses unique abilities, strengths and talents. The extraordinary impact of Youth Futures goes far beyond the individual child by strengthening the entire family and the community as a whole.

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