Over one hundred teenagers from across Israel gathered in the beautiful garden of the British Ambassador's official residence in Ramat Gan for the annual "Gold Awards" ceremony of the Israel Youth Award. The program, which began in 1956 as the Duke of Edinburgh's Award, has been recognizing youth achievement in the United Kingdom since 1956 and now operates in over 144 countries worldwide. The Youth Awards program sets guidelines for and recognizes the accomplishments of youths aged 14-18 who complete self-improvement goals including volunteer work, physical activity and more. The program recognizes overall achievement at three levels; the students at this ceremony reached the highest or "gold" level, and have completed at least nine weekly hours of activities for a minimum of 18 months.
WIZO has partnered with the program in Israel since 2007. For the past decade, on average, WIZO has had 350-450 students participating in the program annually, an impressive 25%-33% of the total participants in Israel. This year 34 WIZO students from three WIZO schools, WIZO CHW Hadassim, WIZO Nahalal and WIZO Nir Ha’Emek, received gold awards.
Guests of honor at this year's ceremony included: British Ambassador HE David Quarrey, who hosted the event along with the co-chairmen of the awards program in Israel, Hilton Nathanson and Amir Amar. Also taking part in the ceremony was MK Revital Swid. Representing WIZO at the event were Prof. Rivka Lazovsky, Chairperson of World WIZO, Igal Dekel, WIZO General Director, Moshe Bitman, National coordinator of the Israel Youth Award and members of the WIZO Executive.
World WIZO Chairperson Prof. Rivka Lazovsky & British Ambassador David Quarrey
The ambassador opened the event by praising the merits of the award program both in Israel and around the world. He was followed by MK Swid, who congratulated all the Gold Award recipients and praised them for being an inspiration to all Israeli youth.
Among the highlights of the ceremony was the performing of Od Yavo Shalom Aleinu ("Peace will come upon us, yet") a song sung in both Hebrew and Arabic by a Gold Award recipient from CHW Hadassim.
"WIZO prides itself on having partnered with this important international program for over a decade," Prof. Rivka Lazovsky said. "WIZO students consistently, every year, make up an integral part of the International Youth Awards community, reflecting the fact that WIZO students understand the importance of the values that the Youth Awards celebrate: ethical leadership, equal opportunities, social justice and volunteerism. I am so proud of our students' achievements and of WIZO's partnerships that benefit them and Israeli society as a whole."
Photo Credits: Yonatan Sredni