Jewish and Arab Israeli teenage girls have come together for a cross-cultural summer sports camp at World ORT’s Kfar Silver Youth Village.
One Team Camp, which aims to foster social cohesion and empowerment of girls through sport, welcomed 45 girls aged 14 to 16 this month. Half the participants were Jewish girls from across Israel, and the others were Bedouin students from the village of Abu Quidar.
They took part in eight days of sports activities including volleyball, soccer, basketball, swimming, gymnastics, yoga, self-defence and more.
The camp was made possible thanks to a partnership between the Azrieli Foundation and World ORT, with substantial support from ORT Canada. The camp was designed, developed and run by the pedagogical department of World ORT Kadima Mada headed by Dr. Moshe Leiba and was managed by Roi Yablochnik with six female counsellors including two from Abu Quidar.
Beyond the sports, the participants had the opportunity to visit a Bedouin women’s embroidery workshop, where the Jewish participants enjoyed a chance to learn about daily life in this sector of Israeli society. They also attended the “Olympic Experience” – a one-day visit to a special Olympic center in Tel Aviv that offers a unique multi-sense experience and highlights the history of the Olympic Games.
The youngsters conducted group meetings and outdoor training workshops to help them get to know each other better, build trust, and hopefully form lasting bonds.
Sports activities have the potential to break down barriers and stigmas between people and bring them closer. Studies show that interactive meetings between groups from different backgrounds help change preconceptions and reduce prejudice.
Hanan, a Bedouin instructor at the camp, said: “Thank you very much for this camp – it was a vision, a dream. It was successful in a way I did not imagine it could be. We are thirsty for good relationships, love, joy, calmness. Hopefully this is the beginning, the first steps on a ladder of success.”
Physical education at a young age helps develop fitness, strength and self-confidence, and mental and emotional resilience.
The camp promoted a sense of belonging, regardless of nationality or religion and encouraged values such as fairness, team building, equality, discipline, inclusion, perseverance, and respect.
Dan Green, World ORT Director General and CEO, said: “This summer camp was an opportunity to shape a better future of tolerance and acceptance for these youngsters and develop character-building skills that will help them succeed in life.”
Fulfilling the philanthropic legacy of the late David J. Azrieli, the Azrieli Foundation has been funding institutions and operating programs in Israel and Canada since 1989 and shares World ORT and Kadima Mada’s vision of empowering at-risk youth in the periphery of Israel.
Danny Hakim of the Azrieli Foundation said: “It seems like all the girls want to come back next year and that says it all. Thanks to all the instructors and staff who worked together to make sure the girls felt comfortable and happy. In addition, thanks to the parents who trusted us with their children.”