World ORT’s SMILE helps Israeli children in hospital


November 01, 2007 World ORTs SMILE helps Israeli children in hospital World ORT is helping children who are undergoing lengthy hospital treatment to keep up with their schoolwork. A new World ORT project, called SMILE, has been launched at Beer Shevas Soroka University Medical Centre, a 1,000-bed teaching hospital linked with Ben Gurion University. It has been set up in cooperation with the Municipality of Beer Sheva. The hospital, which serves a catchment area more than half the size of Israel, has an education centre for paediatric in-patients. Each year, the centres teaching staff helps some 10,000 children of diverse ethno-religious backgrounds to continue their studies so that, once they are well again, they can return to school easily. Under the SMILE project, 10th grade students from the local Makif Aleph Junior High School, which is part of World ORTs Kadima Mada (Science Journey) programme, join volunteers from Israels elite cadre of trainee air force pilots to bring friendship and scholarship support to bedridden children at Soroka. The young patients, who are unable even to attend sessions at the education centre, are able to use 10 laptops provided by World ORT thanks to wireless internet links in the wards. Members of World ORTs Executive Committee joined senior World ORT staff at the hospital yesterday (Wednesday) for the formal launch of the project. Executive Committee Vice Chair Judy Menikoff said: The isolation of long term hospital care can be as debilitating as the patients illness. Healing is more than just medicine, it is a holistic process. What SMILE does is, in a way, take the children out of the hospital and put them back into their own world and so help them to get better. The project also allows the air force volunteers and the Makif Aleph students, who can choose SMILE as their personal commitment activity which all high school students need to do in order to matriculate, to give of themselves, added Executive Committee member Shelley Fagel. Its an incredibly positive programme a win-win for everyone involved, Ms Fagel said. A Bedouin boy shows World ORT Executive Committee Chairman Mauricio Merikanskas the work he is doing on one of the laptops donated to Soroka Hospitals education centre. The Makif Aleph students will each be partnered with a patient in a non-infectious ward for weekly mentoring sessions. These sessions will assist and encourage the sick children with their studies, allow them to have a little fun and entertainment and provide them with company among their peers. The cadets from a nearby air force base will provide on-ward oversight and support for the children. Earlier yesterday, the World ORT delegation visited the Makif Aleph school for the inauguration of its WOTEC World ORT Teacher Empowerment Centre a specially designed high-tech staff room that features all the equipment teachers need to prepare their lessons with the minimum of stress and the maximum of efficiency. In addition to working stations for the staff, the WOTEC provides scanners, photocopiers, printers, digital cameras, internet and intranet connections, photo and video processing software, design and development software, binding equipment and Power Point equipment. WOTECs are an integral component of the Kadima Mada programme, under which Makif Aleph has also received a custom-made science laboratory and financial support to help poor students buy essentials such as text books. World ORT is also helping Makif Aleph through an Athena Foundation project, supported by the Israel Teachers Union, aimed at supplying every teacher in Israel a laptop. World ORTs initial contribution is funding the supply of 100 laptops to teachers at the Makif Aleph as well as in four elementary schools whose pupils are expected to join Makif Aleph. World ORT Director General Robert Singer said: Our comprehensive approach providing help through Athena, Kadima Mada, which includes SMILE, is seen in Beer Sheva as a tremendous investment in the city by World ORT and diaspora Jewry. Kadima Mada, which is run in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, is aimed at raising the standards of science and technology education in Israel. The programmes hundreds of projects in more than 30 local authorities mark a new phase in World ORTs 59-year-long commitment to bring the best practical education available to the Jewish State. World ORT is the worlds largest Jewish education and vocational training non-government organisation and has benefited more than 3 million people Jewish and non-Jewish in 100 countries since its foundation in 1880.