jewish child of the year 248.88.
(photo credit: Beit Issie Shapiro)
Two young Israelis will become the first recipients of British organization Jewish Child's Day's (JCD) Jewish Children of the Year Award for recognition of their contributions to society in a special ceremony to be held in London next month.
Noy Aviv, 20, and Yuval Laor, 14, were selected out of some 320 youth leaders who graduated this year from Beit Issie Shapiro's Project Chen leadership training project. The two were chosen by a local committee for demonstrating exceptional leadership qualities and quality work with disabled youth.
Beit Issie Shapiro, which develops and provides services for children and adults with developmental disabilities, will also honor Aviv and Laor during its annual Project Chen graduation ceremony to be held Thursday evening at the organization's main center in Ra'anana.
"These awards are for Jewish children who have gone beyond the usual call of duty," Naomi Stuchiner, Beit Issie Shapiro President and CEO International, told The Jerusalem Post Wednesday. "Their visit to London will recognize these achievements."
According to information released by the organization, both Aviv and Laor contributed to the Chen Project in different but equally far-reaching ways.
Hod Hasharon resident Aviv overcame the enormous challenges of Shprintzen Syndrome, which include physical, intellectual, emotional and behavioral disabilities, to establish a small neighborhood park, put together a Purim show for people with intellectual disabilities and prepare care packages for the elderly.
In turn, Laor, who is also from Hod Hasharon, displayed amazing leadership qualities by creating a special connection with a group for youths with disabilities. He also successfully participated in a big brother program for youths with disabilities.
"It has been a learning process," admitted Laor. "At first I was a bit nervous that I wouldn't be able to make friends with the people with disabilities in the group but the more I got to know them, the more I learned to appreciate their strengths and good qualities."
He added, "People with disabilities may be different but they are certainly not inferior."
Today Project Chen operates in a wide variety of cultural and religious groups and schools throughout Israel. In 2009 some 320 youths graduated as youth leaders, from a wider group of 6,000 participants countrywide.
The JCD, which works with disadvantaged and disabled children in the UK, Israel and Eastern Europe, launched its Jewish Child of the Year Awards earlier this year. Focusing on four main categories - Extraordinary Achievement, Bravery in the Face of an Enormous Challenge, Chesed; Acts of Loving Kindness and Contribution to the Community - the organization will bestow four awards to UK children and two additional ones in special category for Israeli youth.
The inaugural awards ceremony is set to take place on December 13th and will be attended by Dame Gail Ronson, who was also chairwoman of the judging panel.