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Friday, December 11, 2015

Could Surfboards + Wet Suits = Key to Supporting Disadvantaged Youth #VibeEdu

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This is just one in a series of ongoing posts on the educational innovations in Israel. You can see additional coverage here

When you think of disadvantaged youth, it's not uncommon for images of teenagers hanging on the streets, drugs, incarceration and a dead end future to come to mind. But what if there was a way to help these young people find a new direction where their lives had meaning and purpose? 

On day one of my tour with Vibe Israel to learn about education in the country, I discovered this was a reality at a youth village in a place called Mevo'ot Yam. Here, a surfboard and a wet suit become a gateway to a future that is as wide open as the Mediterranean Sea that is the classroom to these students. Mevo'ot Yam Youth Village looks like a tropical resort, but instead it is home to disadvantaged youth who build crucial life skills such as goal setting, endurance, and inner confidence by learning to ride the waves of a surfboard and navigate the sea. Equally important is the realization for many of the youth that they can play a part in the shaping of the sea and the world.

One of the students (captured below) explained the plight of the clown fish made popular by the movie "Finding Nemo." After the movie, divers would risk damaging the sea ecosystem to capture these fish for sale. The solution to ending this problem was to breed clown fish so that the capture of those in the wild would no longer be necessary. This student learned an important lesson that is gaining popularity far and wide with the Maker Movement. It's better to breed (aka make) something, than to make something. At the school they learn to breed endangered species that can help the oceanic ecosystem.

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