Youth of MDA and Tzamid plant a shared future together

Young members of MDA Youth and the Tzamid organization for people with special needs plant trees together in Emek Ayalon at a festive Tu Bishvat event sponsored by friends of JNF Holland.

Tamar Lev-Zion of Rehovot (center) plants a tree for Tu Bishvat, with two teens from MDA Youth (photo credit: KKL-JNF)
Tamar Lev-Zion of Rehovot (center) plants a tree for Tu Bishvat, with two teens from MDA Youth
(photo credit: KKL-JNF)
January 15, 2019: About 400 young members of Magen David Adom (MDA) Youth, together with adults and children with special needs from the Tzamid organization, planted trees in a spirit of friendship at Emek Ayalon, in anticipation of the Tu Bishvat holiday.
"We are planting a green and happy future here together," said KKL-JNF Education Division Director Simon Elbaz. "This is yet another example of how KKL-JNF makes forests accessible to all of the general public."
The young people visited various activity stations operated by KKL-JNF Education Division guides. By means of interactive games and quizzes they learned about the history and geography of the land of Israel and of KKL-JNF’s role in its development, then and now.  Among other activities, they rolled a ball around Israeli landmarks printed on a giant parachute, moved along a Snakes and Ladders game by solving riddles, located cities and sites on a giant map of Israel learned about KKL-JNF's symbolic colors and their significance, and participated in a number of experiential learning activities.
"This has been a very meaningful day for us, during which we spent time with Tzamid children," said 16 year-old Yael Somech, a MDA Youth volunteer from Rishon Letziyon.
A KKL-JNF 4x4 firetruck present at the site proved to be a very popular attraction. The youth met a KKL-JNF firefighting crew, who showed them the vehicle’s special qualities that allow it to fight forest fires on all types of terrain. They also got to climb inside the truck and put themselves in the shoes of the firefighters. 
An especially meaningful even was the drummers’ circle, in which the MDA Youth and special needs children and adults drummed, sang and danced together to the beat of the darbukas.
"This encounter connects between two worlds, and both sides are learning so much – they are learning about us and we are learning from them," said 16 year old Itay Ben-Lulu, one of the MDA volunteers.
KKL-JNF and Magen David Adom have worked together for the past 15 years. "Thanks to our long-term cooperation with KKL-JNF, we are able to transmit the value of equality to the young people," said Yifat Glasman, National MDA Youth Coordinator.
"This day gives us an opportunity to hold equal and shared activities that impart many important values," added Acting MDA Youth Coordinator Rami Meushar.
After the activities, a short ceremony took place. Dudu Ashkenazi of KKL-JNF’s Education Division welcomed the participants and warmly thanked all the different partners who had helped make the day possible, particularly friends of JNF Holland.  Elisha Mizrahi of KKL-JNF's Public Relations Department told the young participants: “there is nothing more satisfying than planting a tree and knowing that something green is growing after you”.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, it was time for everyone to roll up their sleeves and get to work. Forming a long line, everyone made their way down to the planting site where they found small holes ready and waiting for the young saplings to be planted. Carefully, the participants placed their saplings in the small holes and covered the roots with their bare hands. 
MDA Youth volunteer Shaked Mousari greatly enjoyed the shared tree planting. "There is a special feeling of satisfaction that comes from planting trees with people with special needs," she said.
"It's fun to go to the forest and enjoy yourself with your friends," said Tamar Lev-Zion from the Hashomrim Hostel in Rehovot. "I love planting trees and imagining how they will grow and be strong."
See the MDA Youth-Tzamid planting ceremony on video!