Meir Panim operates Neighborhood Youth Centers in the cities of Sderot, Dimona and Or Akiva. As high-poverty areas with large immigrant populations, there are a large number of at-risk children who depend on the centers to break out of the cycle of poverty.
It is widely known that activities youth engage in outside of school hours are critical for their development.
Sderot, which borders Gaza, conducts the programming at its Neighborhood Youth Centers from within converted bomb shelters, addressing the holistic needs of the area’s at-risk youth population.
The centers focus on utilizing these critical after-school hours to lead the next generation to success through proper nutrition, education, mentoring, community service, group and individual emotional support, recreation, and special programming. This is all designed to ease the daily trauma affecting the lives of Sderot’s youth.
Academic success is a critical aspect of days spent in the centers. 4:00 PM is the set time when the clubs open, and homework is the first priority of the day.
To encourage academic success, mentorship programs are in place with local college students as well as members of the IDF. These relationships hold the children accountable and provide positive role models, encouraging them to stay on track with the promise of opportunities and a brighter future.