Already a successful youth centre that engages 65% of Kiryat Shmona’s young people, Beit Vancouver has evolved to become not only a physical building but a network of communities sharing services. Instead of residents only coming to Beit Vancouver to take part in programs, the centre is going into neighbourhoods and tailoring its services to the specific needs of residents. This is made possible by utilizing the platform of the Better Together Program that we have been supporting since it started.
With the development of the Beit Vancouver Network of Communities, the centre has established itself as a leading authority in community building in Israel. The immediate plan involves the implementation of the Beit Vancouver Network model in all Kiryat Shmona neighbourhoods, as part of the “Kiryat Shmona– City of Communities” vision. The Beit Vancouver Network will serve as a model for other cities throughout Israel for development and community planning.
Developing new young leaders in our partnership region of the Upper Galilee Panhandle is a strategic focus of our Israel and Overseas Affairs Committee. Galil-UP is the newly formed leadership development program that will work to engage the large number of young adults that are continually moving to the region or staying there after graduation. Operated by Tel-Hai College, Galil-UP will form a local leadership group that will take a role in shaping and implementing a community vision, and will lead development processes in both local and regional communities in the Upper Galilee.
The program generated significant interest, and the resulting cohort of 25 emerging leaders is a diverse and promising group of individuals who bring both expertise and great potential, have experience in community involvement and are enthusiastic to work hard for the region. The training they receive will prepare them to take on significant lay and professional positions in local municipalities and organizations, propelling the regional agenda of growth and development.
Youth Futures helps children, youth and families living in Israel’s socio-economic periphery by providing three to five years of essential services that address multiple challenges, including learning disabilities, behavioral difficulties, poverty, and familial instability. Serving Israel's diverse populations, including Arab, Druze, Bedouin, Christian and the ultra-Orthodox, Youth Futures helps children gain a sense of security as they are empowered to overcome obstacles and reach their personal and academic goals.
This past year in Kiryat Shmona, the program served 112 children and families, and indirectly benefited hundreds more. The program has strengthened its partnerships with the city’s residents, municipal leaders and local institutions, and has made remarkable progress in empowering vulnerable families and children to maximize their potential.
Gesher Chai (Living Bridge) programs promote global Jewish identity and unity through people-to-people connections between Canadian and Galilee Panhandle residents. The program fosters relationships between Jewish day school students locally and in our partnership region, typically culminating in a mifgash (exchange) between students. The impact of these informal educational programs for elementary and high school students can be felt around the world and here at home. Gesher Chai also facilitates relationships between educators through exchanges and joint curriculum planning. Relationships between teens, young adults and other groups are developed through programs that include social action mifgash, camp programs, dance troupes, and more.
Through Gesher Chai and our Israel scholarships program we continued to support the King David High School grade eight trip to Israel, during which students spend time in our partnership region of the Upper Galilee Panhandle. This year, the King David delegation comprised 52 students, plus seven chaperones. A group of 26 grade eight students from King David’s sister school in Israel, Har Vagai, joined them for field trips. As always, one of the highlights was the five-day homestay, through which students build lasting friendships. The 2017 delegation was the largest ever in North America!
The partnering of the two schools, King David and Har Vagai, through the Gesher Chai program, introduces local high school students, through the eyes of their Israeli peers and educators, to what life is like in Israel. This year, while in Israel, the two groups of students collaborated on a project that will highlight the 20th anniversary of the helicopter crash close to Har Vagai that took the lives of 73 soldiers. This will be shared at the community Yom Hazikaron ceremony in Vancouver next spring.