From as far north as Pardes Hanna-Karkur to Israel's southernmost city, Eilat, over 75 energetic teenage girls from seven cities across Israel came together at WIZO's Tel Aviv headquarters on March 4th to celebrate the conclusion of another successful year of WIZO’s Otzma Tzeira ("Young Strength") project.
Established in 2003, Otzma Tzeira, a flagship program of WIZO Israel's Community, Child and Youth Division, is a social educational program that helps teenage girls who need social and emotional reinforcement to express themselves artistically, develop a personal identity and learn to make better choices through group experiences and utilizing empowerment values. The program is in memory of Shula Broide z"l, a former Chairperson of WIZO Israel (1970-79) and financial supporter Otzma Tzeira.
In the framework of the program, groups of up to 16 girls, who were chosen by their school counselors for participation, met 15 times at their local WIZO branches across Israel. This year the groups were based in Pardes Hanna-Karkur, Jerusalem, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Dimona, Beersheva and Eilat. They took part in individual and group activities in order to develop awareness of their own personal, psychological and physical development and improve their decision-making skills. In order to enrich their coping strategies and building of personal identity, the program uses different forms of art therapy including photography, dance, drama and video. During the celebratory evening, the groups all presented their final projects from the program.
"Today is all about celebrating these wonderful teenagers," said Rina Keren, Chairperson of WIZO Israel's Community, Child and Youth Division "The Otzma Tzeira program focuses on the challenges that every teenage girl faces. It enables these young women to develop a safer personal-feminine identity and their inner voice through the use of artistic tools. The program reflects all of WIZO's core values: gender equality, women's empowerment, education and family welfare."
“The girls who are identified by their school counselors and referred to Otzma Tzeira are not ‘strong’ or ‘weak’, Chen Roth, WIZO Israel’s Coordinator for Otzma Tziera stressed. “They are the ones who are often transparent, who would otherwise just be passed over. Otzma Tzeira does wonders for them.”
The First "Spoken Word" Otzma Tzeira Group
This year was the first time an Otzma Tzeira group, Ashkelon, decided to use "spoken word" as their art form. "Spoken word" can be described as poetry that is written to be performed. It utilizes concrete language, word play, and rhythm to tell stories. Through the use of vivid imagery, the listener is able to really “feel” the words as they are being spoken.
Reaching New Heights through Art
"Otzma Tzeira embodies one of our highest goals: to empower women, starting at a young age," Idit Gindi, Director of WIZO Israel's Family Welfare Division said. "It's so exciting to see the heights to which WIZO can lift these girls through art, which allows each participant to personally express herself.”
The future of Israeli society is our young women," WIZO Israel Chairperson Ora Korazim said. "For a century WIZO has been a leading volunteer driven movement promoting children, youth and women. The young women of today are the leaders of tomorrow and it is up to us to continue to empower them."
Photo Credits: Yael Rasner