The project “Nisayon” by the Jewish Charitable Fund Hesed Shaare Tikva of the Ukrainian city of Kharkov organises a variety of activities for 35 young people with disabilities from two local Jewish communities, Kharkov and Zaporozhye. These project include activities, such as communication training, art therapy, classes on how to lead a healthy lifestyle, as well as Jewish culture and tradition.
For young people with mental disabilities, the process of socialisation is gradual and requires considerable time. Therefore, leisure activities are a crucial catalyst in facilitating this process.
A very popular part of the project, titled “Warm Homes” are classes on self-sufficiency. Participants often lack crucial skills that would allow them to live independently, such as using domestic appliances. Elderly members of the community take on the role of teaching how to manage a household without the help of parents or other adults.
Soon enough, participants become more responsible, reflecting on how they can be useful and what they can do for their elderly hosts, preparing gifts and greeting cards and enquiring about their health and mood.
As for physically disabled participants, their needs and demands often differ radically from the group of mentally disabled participants. Therefore, the programme is tailored towards delivering training aimed at developing practical skills, such as leadership, financial literacy, as well as measures aimed at social integration. Participants from this group took active part in organising local events, such as “The Day of the Jewish community”, as well as holding held workshops for children.
Learning about Jewish tradition caused a lot of interest among participants of both groups. Every month both groups participate in “Great Shabbat”, which is held together with the Children’s programme of Hesed Shaare Tikva.
Participants to the Nisayon project experienced a warm and friendly atmosphere and a constant social circle. This means a lot to young people with disabilities. In the words of Tatiana, a young participant: “I don’t really communicate with anyone, only with our group. That is why I look forward to seeing you at Nisayon every time. Here I feel comfortable and at ease, you could say that only find peace here”.
The EJF is proud to be a partner of Hesed Shaare Tikva, and to be part of such important and positive community-building initiatives that focus on inclusion and accessibility.