The excitement was palpable amongst the approximately 200 young people, 55 of them from WIZO youth villages, and guests, who assembled in the garden of the elegant residence of the British Ambassador Mr. David Quarrey to receive the gold awards of the International Youth Award Scheme.
Students from WIZO Nir Ha'emek, WIZO Nahalal, WIZO Nachlat Yehuda and WIZO Hadassim were among those who received awards. Others included youngsters from various communities around Israel.
Present at the ceremony were President of World WIZO Tova Ben-Dov, Chairperson of the World WIZO Executive Professor Rivka Lazovsky, Chair of World WIZO Education Division Dr. Carmela Dekel and other members of the World WIZO Executive.
Mr. Quarrey opened the proceedings by welcoming all present and stated that the Award is a great opportunity for youth around the world. He thanked Hilton Nathanson, co-chair with Adv. Amir Amar of the Israel Board, for coming especially from the UK for the event and all those involved in the award scheme. The ambassador brought special greetings and congratulations from President Ruby Rivlin, whom he had seen and briefed that morning.
Addressing the graduates, Yossi Freedman, CEO of the Israel Award scheme, stated that "reality in life can be cruel but one can make changes in one's life from inside and the motivation and optimism you have shown and the targets you took upon yourselves shows what can be achieved."
Sarai Sanker from WIZO Hadassim was given the honour of addressing the guests on behalf of the graduates. She explained how much participating in the award has done for her own self-evolvement as she participated in meaningful community services, volunteering and sports activities. "I was able to believe in myself, realize my talents and increase my self-confidence. And look at me now, giving a speech in public – and in English! Who would have believed it?"
Special certificates of recognition were given to WIZO's Moshe Bitman, Uri Ben Israel of Dimona and Adi Friling of the Kfar Saba/Raanana branch.
The International Youth Award scheme is an offshoot of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award which was founded in England in 1956, awarded to youth and young adults for completing a series of self-improvement challenges. Today, the Award operates in some 140 countries, and consists of three progressive levels: bronze, silver and gold. At each level, the participants must commit and complete a series of challenges and goals in the fields of community volunteering, physical activity, developing social and practical skills and others. Throughout, the students are coached and encouraged by educators and youth leaders.