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Youth Futures Summer Workshops by Merridy Gale Kotler, BFA, Montreal Art Educator Specializing In Workshop Development.
Three years ago, I travelled to Israel to work on a project for an artist book with the proceeds from it earmarked for Youth Futures. Knowing my educational background as an art educator specializing in creative art workshops and cultural identity, I was asked if it was possible to facilitate a workshop for the children of Youth Futures while I was there.
From this suggestion a Youth Futures Summer Workshop was born!
Since 2008, I have worked with the manager, Ruthi Shenfeld, and trustees of Youth Futures Beer-Sheva Bnei Shimon, to create exciting cultural identity workshops, and it has turned into an incredible experience for everyone involved.
Furthermore, the three-day workshops that we initiate each summer have developed into a wonderful people-to-people project and its success is felt on many levels.
A) From an overseas volunteer perspective:
For two years young adult volunteers from Montreal Jewish Federation CJA worked with the children and trustees, and even though only a handful spoke Hebrew they were able to communicate and reach out to the children. The children in turn participated happily alongside their assigned partner strengthening the bonds between them.
B) Young Community Leadership participation:
During the three days there are Israeli teens and young adults from Diller and New Leadership groups, who come out to join us in taking part in the workshop and connecting with the children of the community and the overseas volunteers.
C) Community involvement:
Throughout the three days Montreal and Israel committee members, as well as lay people from the community, contribute their time and energy to the success of the program.
For the summer of 2010, I produced and organized a new project outline that would facilitate the Youth Futures Summer Workshop. We decided to create a short movie based on how Youth Futures inspires the children to reach their potential dreams.
Since I also have a background in film, I felt it was an excellent method to teach the students how to use film as a means of communication, and reuse the knowledge to incorporate it into future educational endeavors.
I was fortunate to have the help and support of Adi Cohen, Youth Futures Trustee workshop coordinator, along with Avishag Azenkot, Trustee, who assisted her. Two volunteer lay people from the community, Liora Bleiberg and Miri Arbiv were also instrumental in the success of the workshop since they went into the classroom prior to my arrival to help organize and implement my instructions to the children and the Trustees.
Following many emails, lesson plans, phone conferences, strategic planning and organization, the outline to the film project was put in place.
Upon my arrival to Israel there were three days of intensive workshops with students, Trustees and volunteers. I was extremely proud to see that the students involved took ownership of the film and worked towards the final production even though the last day they were on summer break they still came to finish. Except for the final editing, the children were involved in all aspects of production of the film.
Each of the twenty students who took part in this workshop chose a different area that they wanted to work on. The groups were broken into actors, videographers, music selection, room set-up arrangement and props. The entire group chose the theme for the film, scripted it and directed it.
Kol hakavod to the children of Youth Futures and their Trustees for such a wonderful Youth Futures film, "Doors To The Future!"
Many thanks also go to Adi Zvieli, photography volunteer, Ayala Ben Shushan for film production, volunteers Shimon Noam Oren (Beer-Sheva) and Arlazar Eliashiv for translation, as well as Jared Curtis who spent many hours helping me with the final editing.
After seeing the results of these programs I felt it necessary to share our experiences with the Youth Futures community.
Thank-you Youth Futures Beer-Sheva, for leading the way in workshop programming, community involvement and people-to-people projects.
To conclude, these workshops are made possible by the assistance and support of Partnership 2000, Montreal Jewish Federation, Israel & Overseas Department and The Jewish Agency For Israel, Beer-Sheva, Bnei Shimon region.