When children are raised in dysfunctional homes and do not attend school on a regular basis, and experience physical, emotional and/or sexual trauma, they do not have the capabilities to bridge the educational and emotional gaps in their lives without professional intervention.
At Neve Michael, there is an ongoing effort to mend the shattered childhoods of the boys and girls who come from backgrounds rife with family dysfunction, drug and alcohol addiction, violence and other horrifying circumstances. The professional therapeutic individual treatment program meets the needs of each child and enhances their development and well-being.
Therapy Programs at Neve Michael
Types of therapy:
- Music therapy
- “Sulamot” – Israeli Philharmonic Music Program at Neve Michael Children’s Village
- Art therapy
- Drama therapy
- Pet therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Carpentry Therapy
- Psychotherapy with psychologists
- Psychotherapy with social workers
- Psychiatric treatment
The young girls at the Teenage Girls’ Emergency Crisis Center receive weekly individual one-hour therapy meetings with a psychologist. In addition, they learn to express themselves, by working individually or participating as a group in a variety of therapies.
Dance Therapy, or dance movement therapy (DMT), is the psychotherapeutic use of movement and dance for emotional, cognitive, social, behavioral and physical conditions. Dance movement therapy strengthens the body/mind connection through body movements to improve both the mental and physical well-being of individuals. As a form of expressive therapy, DMT is founded on the basis that movement and emotion are directly related.
The ultimate purpose of DMT is to find a healthy balance and sense of wholeness. This is so greatly needed for teenage girls’ at risk, where so many have suffered sexual abuse, for it creates a means of discharging aggression and restoring interpersonal connection. DMT helps our girls gain the skills they need for grounding themselves “in their bodies” and for comprehending the relationship between bodily sensation and traumatic memory.
Teenage girls at risk who have suffered trauma are generally frightened, withdrawn, uncommunicative, distant, uncooperative, and suffer from behavioral disorders. In some cases, they do not respond to conventional psychological treatment. Psychologists who specialize in adolescents tell us that the early teen years are a time of plummeting self-esteem and alienation for young girls. Taking care of animals is a natural way to help them connect with the world around them. Animals cannot lie or manipulate and only respond directly and emotionally to the way you treat them. Pet Therapy research studies have indicated a clear affinity between a youth’s relationship with animals and their character development. A youth’s empathy with animals can be a model for relationships with people. But most importantly, pet therapy is a channel for communication through unspoken words.
As a result of participating in these programs, our children develop positive traits such as taking responsibility, caring for others, communications skills, social skills, and improved self-image, all of which are essential for overcoming childhood traumas, rehabilitation and restoration of their spiritual and emotional well-being. Each child progresses at a different rate. Some children stay in the programs for months, some take years.
We monitor the progress of our children in regular staff meetings, (weekly or monthly, depending on the needs of each child) one-on-one meetings with our children and, in some cases, meetings with the children’s parents as part of our family intervention programs.
Children-at-risk cannot receive pet therapy in groups because of the sensitive need for individual attention and privacy. More and more children are benefiting and really opening up about their past traumas.
In memory of Shmuel Bronshtein
Notwithstanding all the wonderful programs that we provide for our children at Neve Michael, it is our long-held belief that the best service we can render for the community is to help keep families intact, even under the most trying circumstances.
In some hard core cases, preserving the family structure is not a viable option. But for many children, and the families that stand to lose them, it is a best case scenario.
We believe it is possible to mend those family crises that, if not handled professionally and on time, can result in the separation of children from their natural parents. With limited resources, we have carried out this painstaking mission in the past, often successfully.
Taking a battered or neglected child and safely restoring that deserving little person to natural parents, who for all intents and purposes have not proven themselves capable of raising kids, is no simple task. It requires a tremendous amount of good will and resolve on the part of the parents and it demands no small measure of professional input to make it work.
In the past, we have performed this seemingly unworkable task in sessions at Neve Michael. Now, by conducting the business of family healing on neutral grounds, we can best serve our primary goal of keeping families together.
Under this program, the families requiring our assistance are still living under the same roof, but breaking apart. We are alerted of their plight by the Social Services Department.
Our mission is threefold:
1. As a top priority, our professionals evaluate and treat children at risk who are most affected by the adverse circumstances they are exposed to at home.
2. We conduct group therapy sessions to help parents with violent tendencies and drug and alcohol addictions. In order for the program to succeed, parents must be trained to behave responsibly towards their children or risk losing them.
3. Concurrently, we train members of the community to recognize the symptoms, so that families can begin receiving help on time.
Families at risk in the region of Pardes Hanna that includes Hadera, Or Akiva, Afula and Givat Ada receive our professional assistance 2-3 times a week as they remain within their family/school framework. We serve 45 families in the Pardes Hanna area that turn to us for help at our External Crisis Center. The need is here – and so we rise to the challenge.
Neve Michael’s Onsite Elementary School
Aviva Haziza is the principal of the Neve Michael Elementary religious state school which is an onsite school located in the Neve Michael Children’s Village. The school takes in children from Neve Michael Children’s Village, including special education students. We believe that Neve Michael students are in need of a support system that is flexible on the one hand and sets clear boundaries on the other hand. Moreover, we understand the crucial importance of collaboration between the school system and the Neve Michael Village, so each child receives an optimal educational environment.
Many of the children didn’t go to school regularly and their attempted learning experience was not successful. Among the student population there are many children who suffer from considerable emotional, social and learning difficulties. This necessitates the development of personal, individualized programs created for each child.
The school is characterized by clear boundaries, combining sensitivity, empathy and a warm, caring and supportive environment to meet the learning requirements that the Education Ministry programs adapted for the Neve Michael School.
The School’s Unique Programs
Along with the school’s existing programs there are a number of unique programs.
The MGN “Behaving with Pride” program at Neve Michael program is now in its tenth year. As a result of this program, the school won the District Education Prize. Among the reasons given for the award, it was noted that the school created a unique program in the behavioral development domain through cooperation between the education and therapeutic staffs and developed teaching and learning processes that respond to the individual according to his level and needs, which involves personal empowerment as a stimulus for integration and learning functioning.
This impressive outcome comes as a result of the cooperation between the teaching staff, the management of the Children’s Village, the dormitory staff and the children who all contribute to the achievement of results, with a sense of belonging.
Teleprocessing program – In recent years, we have placed emphasis on the pedagogic aspect and advancement in scholastic achievements. The school is meeting the requirements of the Education Ministry.
The school has also joined the national teleprocessing program. In this field we are playing an active role in the Education Ministry’s Academia On-Line national programs along with the Cyber-Programming Olympics. This is the second year that the school is running an HTML programming class donated by the Caesarea Foundation. We receive continuous reporting from the Education Ministry on the number of students joining digital technology programs. A recent report showed the percentage of students joining the studies had risen to 100%.
School pilot program – The “Individual and Together” pilot program is a systemic school program in coordination and cooperation with the Neve Michael Elementary School. The program’s objective is that students in grades 8-12 will gain the inner strength and scholastic achievements that are suitable for their age group. Fifth grade students have been tested in an external school growth and efficiency measures framework and shown an improvement in scholastic achievements.
The “Good Luck in Junior High School” project is designated for grades 5-6 with the aim to improve scholastic achievements in English and mathematics as part of the transition to junior high level. The students study in groups during the afternoon hours twice a week. The program is supported by Neve Michael’s Elementary School.
This is a community-oriented project where over 65 children ages 4-13 (up to sixth grade) participate. Upon the recommendation of the Ministry of Welfare, a group of children from disadvantaged families living in the community come after school to Neve Michael where they receive a hot lunch, help with homework, professional attention (from social workers), supper, a hot shower and a ride back home. Our Day Care Program also provides a variety of extra-curricular activities.
There is an onsite, beautiful synagogue in Neve Michael that serves the 280 children at risk, staff and local residents of Pardes Hanna. The existence of this beautiful synagogue enhances the Jewish heritage for our children and has become a center for traditional activities. It is opened on a daily basis and has become a part of the children’s lives, especially for our B’nei Mitzvah children.
Every Bar Mitzvah boy in Neve Michael made his first blessing while being called up to Torah in this synagogue. There are weekly study lessons in Talmud and Torah in the synagogue for people of all ages. It is wonderful to see how the children of Neve Michael are so friendly with the local families in the area who come to pray in the synagogue. It has truly become a warm, inviting community synagogue.
The Synagogue has three floors. The ground floor that serves as a prayer hall for the men. The first floor is the women’s section and the roof level has a hall for religious studies (Beit Midrash).
Family Homes in the children’s village, consist of a married couple with their biological children who live with around 12 children from the village. The Family Home provides a home-like atmosphere for the children, meeting their physical, emotional, therapeutic and educational needs and enabling them to have positive role models as “parents” and to experience living in a family framework.
The housemother and National Service girls are in charge of providing the 12 children at risk with a functional, daily routine of getting up for school, eating breakfast, supervising that backpacks are ready for school, making sure they go to the main dining room for a hot lunch, assisting them with their homework, making sure the children go to afternoon extracurricular activities and therapies, preparing dinner and helping them to prepare for bed.
The doors to our 24-Hour Children’s Emergency Crisis Center opened in August 2000 with the assistance of the JDC and private donors.
Yes, such atrocities happen here in Israel. Some children arrive with cigarette burns on their tender, young skin. Others have endured horrible experiences. For example one little boy, saw his drug-addicted father kill his mother during while under the influence. Children from all over the country who need to be removed immediately from their home and surroundings are referred to us through the Welfare Department and arrive at our Emergency Crisis Center, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Despite major government budget cuts, our devoted staff works continuously to treat our children. These children are in constant need of professional therapy and diagnostic testing.
It is our objective to help our children break the vicious cycle of distress. Each child responds differently to the various treatments available. Therefore, we try to find the best way to reach into the souls of our children.
These children all come with “psychological ghosts” from their past. Some remember many frightening nights when they lay awake wondering if their father would forcefully join them in bed, or if their parents were too high to notice that they were sick with fever. They arrive with various stress disorders – whether it’s general anxiety, nightmares, misbehaving, depression, sleeplessness, bedwetting, physical complaints, and other trauma-inflicted mental disorders.
The children are referred to Neve Michael through the Welfare Department. The population coming from poverty stricken areas, low social-economic level, and most families have been supported by the Welfare Department through many generations. Most parents were raised in public homes and the majority do not work or function in a normal society.
Most children, who arrive at our Emergency Crisis Center, cannot return home. They are here through holidays and summer vacations. We strive to make an immense difference in the lives of these children. We cannot change the hurtful past for our children. But, together, we can promise to give them a better future.
For Revital, a 15-year-old girl, this is the ray of hope she so desperately needs. At the end of October 2009, she arrived at the doorstep of the first Teen Girls’ Crisis Center in Israel at Emunah’s Neve Michael Children’s Village. Revital was accompanied by a police officer and a social worker after being dragged from the streets of Jerusalem, where she was prostituting herself, mostly in Arab neighborhoods.
After many hours of therapy, the professional staff discovered that Revital had been sexually abused when she was 5 years old by a family member, who is now deceased. Revital’s family was not able to prevent the consequent deterioration in their only daughter’s life.
Now, they are not alone.
• The Teen Girls’ Crisis Center serves teenager girls nationwide from the age of 13-18 years old who have suffered mental/physical abuse or who are in emotional distress due to various causes.
• Only acute situations of teenage girls at risk are referred to the Center by the Welfare Department.
• An important component for the success of the Teenage Girls’ Crisis Center is the family intervention program.
• We expect 40-50 teenage girls annually.
• The professional staff evaluates each teenager that arrives and plans an individual treatment program for her.
• It is important to analyze the source of distress for each teenager and to reach her before she turns to substance abuse to dim the pain or decides to put an end to her own life.
• Our objective is to build self-sufficiency in the teenagers, so that they will be able to cope with life’s challenges as mentally healthy adults.
• The treatment and evaluation is performed by professional experts, psychologists and social workers.
• The anticipated timeline is flexible and dependent on a particular individual’s progress, but we expect each treatment to take from several months to approximately two years.
• The Neve Michael staff works in conjunction with the Child Welfare Department of the Ministry of Welfare.