The Otzmah Project began five years ago in collaboration with Partnership 2000, MW Lion of Judeah and WIZO Israel.
This is a once a week group activity for young women from Ofakim, and between 2002-2005 two groups functioned, an older one and a younger one. In light of lessons learned from previous years, this year it was decided to open only one group which will encompass both age groups. The young women who participate in the activity are between the ages of 13-15, on the brink of distress and risk. Meetings took place at the Ofakim WIZO branch.
There are about 18 young women in the group who were located through their schools - these are young women who are not being handled by the city's welfare services.
The aim of the project is to support and to develop the young women, through a series of meetings which include empowering discussions and group dynamics, outings, workshops in various areas and more.
* Providing tools and imparting knowledge to deal with topics related to adolescence.
* Increasing self-awareness, and improving self-image and self-esteem and changing behavioral patterns.
* Improving educational achievements and handling pressure situations.
* Imparting social skills and expertise and realizing personal potential.
This year the start of the process was delayed as a result of organizational issues at the branch. Therefore exceptional effort was made to recruit young women, and this began in February, 2006.
The young women were located by school counselors and social education coordinators along with Ms. Ricki Ezra, the WIZO volunteer who took responsibility for coordinating the project.
There is a great deal of ethnic diversity in the groups: girls from the Ethiopian, former Soviet Union, and native Israeli communities - some of whom study in the religious high school, and others in the state high school.
In addition to the group facilitator, Leah Daneta, there were two WIZO volunteers (Ricki and Sari) who guided the project from its inception, maintaining close contact with the groups, participating in every activity and serving as willing listeners and role models for the young women.
The operating method for the groups is based upon different and varied activities centering upon a selected topic, and options for discussion at the conclusion of the activity.
Due to several problems that arose this year in managing the project, the joint steering committee decided not to continue with the project.