On average, more than 30% of Israeli children aren’t getting 60 minutes of proper exercise a week. That’s the claim of the nonprofit after-school activity program NIKA, which was founded in order to help get those children moving.
“There are many children who don’t participate in sport, for a variety of reasons: boredom, environment, friend reasons, competitiveness,” said NIKA presenter Sagi Muki. “I want to make it accessible to everyone because sport can inspire excellence and healthiness. I want every Israeli kid to participate and gain that inspiration.”
The program’s latest effort, NIKA Play Bus, is focused on bringing fitness opportunities to children who aren’t located in Israel’s hub areas. The bus itself is a commercial vehicle equipped with training aids that program leaders can drive to training centers in Israel’s periphery in order to offer weekly training to over 4,500 children. “Proper exercise helps us live healthier, to feel better – mentally as well [as physically],” said Muki. “I have no doubt that sport has good things to give us, especially children.”
Founded in 2020, the organization is working toward social, value-based and meaningful activity through the integration of around 6,000 children from all over Israel in sports activity and community building, leading social change through sport.
Their mission statement, according to CEO and founder Gadi Dekel, is to give all children access to exercise. “Our main goal is to promote equal opportunity through sport, and to build a community that’s leading change,” said Dekel.
The program runs activities for children from kindergarten to grade school, and is active in over 30 cities across the country, including Haifa, Tel Aviv, Netanya, Kochav Yair, and Bat Yam.