AKIM through the department of Advocacy for Inclusion within the Community provides support, assistance and information in all aspects of life for people with intellectual disabilities and their families. The department coordinates the activity of all 68 AKIM branches spread all across the country, in both sectors of the Israeli society, the Jewish and the Arab.
Additionally, it establishes and guides parents’ committees in various housing and employment frameworks to assure people with intellectual disabilities receive the best of care. AKIM National Parents Board for Supportive Housing is democratically elected and coordinates the work of all the local parents committees.
Parents for Parents Supportive Hotline
Parents for Parents supportive hotline is a free service operated by volunteering parents to people with intellectual disability that provides help, support, and information via phone in Hebrew and Arabic. We launched the service in 2002 as a response to the needs of parents for a helping hand and emotional support. The uniqueness of the line lies in the idea that a parent who has previously and is coping with the challenges involved in raising a child with an intellectual disability, can understand and identify, accommodate and assist the parent calling. Volunteers give to every caller’s emotional support, advice from their personal experience, information, guidance, and referral to professional help, all with the backup of professionals in the relevant fields.
Akim Israel established the Akim Foundation as part of its community advocacy activities. The aim was to help and improve the quality of life of those who seek our help through targeted financial assistance for the most essential and urgent needs of the disabled person and his family. These needy families face a dual challenge in their lives: they are in a low socioeconomic position as well as raising a child with intellectual disabilities who needs a great deal of support throughout the day.
Masa Israeli - the Israeli Roots Odissey
Since 2018, people with intellectual disabilities from various AKIM’s housing frameworks are taking part in the Israeli Roots Odyssey journey (Masa Israeli in Hebrew). The Israeli Routes Odyssey is a six-day educational journey across Israel designed to reinforce individual and Jewish identity for Israeli youth. AKIM’s participants join part of the journey, during which they travel throughout the country, visit historical sites of special significance, conduct meaningful discussions about life in Israel and take part in empowering activities designed to unite the group. By participating in this once-in-a-lifetime experience, shared by so many Israeli youth, participants with intellectual disabilities become an integral part of the Israeli society.
School Day Extension
The school day in the Israeli special education system ends at 2:00 PM. Therefore, working parents struggle to find suitable arrangements for their children. With the intention of answering a vital need, AKIM Israel is operating Aftercare programs: a long school day program all over the country. Over 250 children enjoy AKIM’s services. These programs offer activities until the late hours of the afternoon designed especially for the needs of children with intellectual disabilities. In the Aftercare program, AKIM’s children get to enjoy the school’s enriching activities, further nurturing cultural, arts and sports activities and paramedical treatments. When parents are reassured that their child is well cared for, they can find reliefs of the day to day burden and maintain a full time job, thus better provide for their families.
In addition to the everyday activities, during the holidays (Sukkot, Chanukah, Purim, Passover and Shavuot) and in the summer, the Aftercares operate day camps from 1 pm till 4 pm. the children enjoy fun activities and the families have an opportunity to spend time with the other children who are on holiday from the non-special education system. Thus, AKIM is assisting families year round.
Mentoring for Independent Living
Not all the people with disabilities are aware of the wide range of rights and services available to them. Shame, fear or neglect are some of the factors that drive young adults to shy away from the world and remain at home with no access to the authorities who are responsible to provide them services to improve their lives. Statistics estimate that about 45 per cent of the 60,000 young adults with disabilities living in Israel are disconnected from any social and communal ties.
The Mentoring for Independent Living program was established to address this problem. The tailored-made program was designed to transition young adults with disabilities, ages 21 to 35, from isolation to independent life in the community. Professionally trained mentors, social workers and psychologists, locate and identify through intensive research those people who do not access the community services obtainable. The mentors offer every participant guidance and support in articulating his or her unique voice and identity; setting life goals; and empowering them to make use of the existing platforms and services so to accomplish more meaningful and independent lives. The program offers a unique model that conveys the services to them. Every one of the participants receives 80 mentoring hours yearly which take place at their convenience in any location which makes them feel secured and comfortable.