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Nirim transforms the prospects of hundreds of girls and boys who are defined by the State of Israel as youth at high risk

Dan Zeller
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Nirim was founded by brothers-in-arms of the late IDF Navy Seals Sergeant First Class Nir Krichman. Nir was killed in action in 2002, during a Navy Seals operation against terrorists in Nablus. His commander, once himself an at-risk youth, was motivated to create a program that elevates and empowers youth at high risk, and to name it in his memory, Nirim.

Wilderness Therapy is one of Nirim’s main therapeutic tools

Established in 2003, Nirim provides youth at high risk with an opportunity, in many cases their last, to overcome their harsh life circumstances, discover their strengths, and become self-confident, successful, fulfilled and contributing members of society. Nirim nurtures, empowers, educates and literally changes the lives of hundreds of youth every year. Its activities are based on a profound belief that each and every adolescent, regardless of their starting point, can achieve academic and personal goals far beyond their own expectations, develop their individual talents, build up their self-image, gain a new set of tools and create a different life path.

Residential youth village

The Nirim Foundation employs two unique educational-therapeutic programs. The first is the Nirim Youth Village, located on Israels northern coast. The unique residential setting serves as a temporary home for 100 at-risk youth aged 14-18.

The Village runs a school for the children, as well as a pre-Army preparatory year. It also includes a Girls Home and an Alumni unit. As part of its therapeutic approach, the Village features an agricultural farm where the children work. All the youth at the Village regularly participate in Wilderness Therapy, which is an important part of Nirims approach for rehabilitating at-risk youth.

Nirim in the Neighborhoods

The second project is Nirim in the Neighborhoods, a community outreach program active in socio-economically disadvantaged, crime-saturated neighborhoods in cities throughout Israel. The Nirim model dramatically transforms the lives of hundreds of girls and boys in these problem neighborhoods who are defined by the State of Israel as youth at high risk.

Nirim in the Neighborhood includes a variety of tools and programs to encourage at-risk youth to turn around their lives, such as girls-only groups and special classes. Some of the programs are conducted jointly with the police, and others with the Ministry of Welfare.

Wilderness Therapy

Experience has proven that Wilderness Therapy, one of Nirims main therapeutic tools, is a key rehabilitative component and often triggers a profound behavioral change. Through challenging outdoor activities that strengthen self-confidence and leadership abilities and promote a sense of self-empowerment, participants learn to believe in themselves and in their future. The program elements are powerful, using survival skills, marine challenge activities and pre-army preparation courses as intensive therapeutic methods.

High success rate

Since its inception, over 90% of Nirim kids have enlisted in the Israeli army and more than 80% of them have successfully completed 12 years of education. In Nirims Youth Village school, 67% of the kids on average complete their high school matriculation exams, which is a higher rate than in Israeli society at large and much higher than similar frameworks.

At Nirim, they believe that youth at high risk can overcome their harsh life circumstances and acquire the tools, values and self-confidence to allow them to rewrite their life story. Hundreds of previously marginalized young Israelis who have been transformed by Nirim are living proof that they are right.

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