From Nahariya in the north to Beersheva in the south, 125 energetic teenage girls from 10 cities across Israel came together at WIZO's Tel Aviv headquarters 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 Family Welfare 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.
"The program focuses on the challenges that every teenage girl faces." Nina Shapira, Chairperson of WIZO Israel's Family Welfare Division, said. “It enables these young teenage girls 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."
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. 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, music, drama and video. During the celebratory evening, the groups all presented their final projects from the program.
“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 explained. “They are the ones who are often transparent, who would otherwise just be passed over. Otzma Tzeira does wonders for them.”
The First Druze Otzma Tzeira Group
This year was the first time Druze girls participated in Otzma Tzeira as a group. The sixteen Druze girls met at the WIZO center in Daliat el-Carmel, a Druze village in northern Israel.
“In our group, our girls, some of whom are religious and others secular, studied photography,” Naifa Abu Zalef, Coordinator of the Daliat El Carmel group said. “The theme of our photo project was “Home”. Together the girls shot photos around town and bonded with each other in the process. It was an amazing experience to see how they developed and became more confident over the course of the program.”
Reaching New Heights through Art
“At first I was shy because I didn’t know anyone in the group, “ H., a 15 year-old participant in the Kiryat Haim group wrote, “But I quickly made friends with everyone. I had so much fun in Otzma Tzeira. It was one of the best experiences of my life!”
"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.”
Photo Credits: Otzma Tzeira