(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski/The Jerusalem Post))
A new program aimed at empowering people with disabilities to protect themselves
against physical and sexual abuse was launched Sunday by the year-old Israel
Unlimited (Masad Nehuyot), which winds up its first year of activities to
promote and strengthen independent living for some 700,000 disabled people
between the ages of 21-65.
“The goal is to help people with disabilities
analyze abusive situations and learn how to deal with them by being more
assertive and giving them the tools to physically protect themselves,” says
Tamara Barnea, head of Israel Unlimited and director of the American Jewish
Joint Distribution Committee’s (JDC) Unit for Disabilities and
Self-defense classes and personal awareness techniques
are all on the agenda for the initiative, she says, adding “Contrary to other
programs that might focus on helping the professionals that work with the
disabled, we aim to encourage and aid people with disabilities to live
independently within the mainstream community in a secure and comfortable
Run jointly by the Welfare and Social Services Ministry, the JDC
and the Ruderman Family Foundation, Israel Unlimited has already developed and
approved eight large community projects for the disabled of more than $6
According to Barnea, the programs developed this past year have
promoted independent living services, addressed the needs of the disabled
considered high risk – disabled immigrants, parents with disabilities, and
victims of abuse – and helped the disabled who suffer from chronic
Collectively, she says, they will likely reach some 20,000
people upon completion of the initial pilot phase, sometime next year.
well as the program to encourage people with disabilities to be more aware of
physical and sexual abuse – a problem that Barnea points out is particularly
acute in the disabled community – Israel Unlimited also approved a program that
will promote healthier living among the disabled.
pressure, losing weight, promoting better sleeping habits and social interaction
in the mainstream community, as well as encouraging better physical fitness and
nutritional care are all among the points that this initiative will focus on,
“This program will be run together with the Health Ministry and
will play a key role in the 2020 National Health initiative,” says Barnea,
referring to a government program to improve people’s health and well-being over
the next 10 years.
Israel Unlimited represents the first time a
government ministry has partnered with a private international family foundation
and an international charity to run welfare projects for segments of the Israeli
population. The project involved a $2 m. investment from each of the parties and
representatives from each are involved in the decision-making process, along
with representatives from the disabled community.
Minister Eli Yishai announced Sunday that families who have children with
disabilities will be entitled to further reductions on their city taxes (arnona)
this coming year, enjoying a 33 percent reduction – 8% more than in the
More than 26,000 families of children with disabilities will
benefit, a spokeswoman from the ministry said.