The key to breaking the cycle of distress must be found at school. Almost all of the children at the Home are mainstreamed into local and regional schools throughout the area and we are obligated to support the children and indeed the schools in their efforts.
The schools in which our children study continue to report that numerous students, younger and older, have difficulties in even performing the most basic tasks, often lacking even basic reading and writing skills, a vital key to their rehabilitation.
The Emunah Notebooks program provides tutoring and support five afternoons a week. Trained teachers and college students provide the children with homework assistance, extra lessons, and tutoring. Children receive individual attention and the positive results are immediately apparent. Almost all of the children receiving support are reported to show improvement at school.
In addition, we offer, without government funding or support, our on-campus "homeschooling program. These students, many of whom have not been to school regularly for months or even years prior to moving to the Emunah Center, show symptoms of school phobia or simply lack the skills and ability to function in a regular classroom due to emotional, social, or educational challenges. The goal of this initiative is to help the children to gradually recover what we believe is their natural desire to learn and to achieve what they have lost, and ultimately to integrate them into regular schools.
Bar and Bat Mitzvahs are special and joyous occasions for both children and families. The excitement of anticipation, preparing for the celebration, the ceremony and party all leave lasting memories that endure for a lifetime. Sadly many children in Israel, from dysfunctional or abusive homes, simply do not have the chance to enjoy their special day in a way that we all take for granted.
Music plays an important part in all of our lives. It can be exciting or calming, jubilant or poignant. Music can bring out memories that have been deeply buried and powerfully resonate with our feelings, helping us to express them and to communicate with others.
Music therapy uses these qualities and the musical components of rhythm, melody and tonality within a therapeutic relationship. In music therapy, children work with a wide range of instruments and their voices to create a musical language of their own. This language allows them to express their emotions and to start to relate to the world outside of themselves in a positive way.
Backgrounds of abuse, ill-health, poverty and violence are common amongst the children Emunah cares for in Israel. Music therapy is just one of the ways that Emunah supports children. Some of our most traumatised and dysfunctional children are benefiting from the Music therapy programmes in our residential children’s home.
Speaking in 2012 at a British Emunah Event, Lord Sacks z”l praised Emunah’s work saying, “Music has wonderful healing powers. When you think of the incredible work that Emunah does I cannot think of anything better for Elaine and myself to be associated with.”
Through music, children are able to express their emotions and with the expert support of a music therapist they can start to heal.
Equine (=horse) programs, from horseback riding to equine-assisted therapy, have long been known to help improve human mental health. Winston Churchill was famously quoted as saying, “The outside of a horse is good for the inside of a man.”
As it turns out, horses are particularly good for children and have exceptional benefits for children with emotional or behavioral issues.
Children with special needs can be challenging. Most do not readily trust adults - they have difficulty trusting their own parents and their counselors at the Home. Children who have a background that includes abuse are prone to angry or hostile outbursts. Cognitive therapies may help regulate behavior, but horses have their charm!
Emunah Achuzat Sara and the “Life Farm”- “Havat Hahaim” in Raanana teamed up to provide the children of the Home with equine-assisted therapy.
The “Life Farm” - “Havat Hahaim” specializes in therapeutic intervention using horses according to the patient's needs. It offers individual and group therapy programs.
The farm wholeheartedly welcomes our children, who benefit from equine therapy. The young riders receive individualized, hands-on training from a team of dedicated and highly skilled staff.
Within weeks of starting the sessions, most participants in the therapy show dramatic improvement in their ability to face their daily emotional challenges. The mutual goal of Achuzat Sara and "Havat Hahaim is to improve the well-being of the boys and girls, resulting in improved functioning and independence.
The joint program is based on three stages:
A) Care and Interaction with the horses: Cleaning and taking care of the horse.
B) Learning the “Horse Language”: How to relate to this impressive animal and how to manage it.
C) Horseback riding
The three stages, together and separately, teach our children important lessons about life :
Self-control: “To control the horse, to treat and manage it, I need to know first how to control myself – if I’m not calm, the horse will not be at its best either.”
Learning to give: It is an uplifting feeling that may hopefully lead to a positive general response.
The horse’s feedback: ”I have to be attentive to my horse, to focus on it and to listen to it in order to manage it successfully." This is especially important for children with ADHD; for them it is a challenging task.
Sense of ability: Riding a high horse means dealing with fear and anxiety; during the program the children overcome fear and experience riding as a first degree of self-empowerment, beyond the simple enjoyment from the ride itself.