On the 25th of February, the Ogen (Anchor) Club for At-Risk Youth decided to change things up a little. On an ordinary day, the 13-18-year-old members of the club turn up to the Ogen in the afternoon where they receive help with homework, enjoy a hot meal, and spend quality time engaged in various informal educational activities with their guides and mentors who run the club.
However, part of the underlying educational rationale of the Ogen is to teach the attending teenagers, many of whom are identified and recommended by the municipal welfare department, the empowering importance of independence and responsibility. Several months of programming about “giving back to the community” came to fruition with an incredible, festive and free event for the community planned, arranged and run entirely by the young members of the Ogen Club!
Every member had a specific assignment and responsibility, no exceptions. For a month they all worked on their roles, planning the event, inviting parents and young kids from the neighborhood, arranging and setting up a range of creative stations with a variety of activities for all ages.
On the day of the event, the Ogen Members went down to the local park (fittingly named after Janusz Korczak) with great fanfare and accompanied by their guides, to set up their stations. They were greeted by more than 100 people, young kids and their parents, who were thrilled that their neighborhood, normally devoid of planned and free activities in the few open spaces available, was hosting such a fun and creative event.
The undisputed highlight of the event was the one-of-a-kind bike raffle, in which three young children walked away with fully working, refurbished bicycles. For nearly six months, members of the Ogen, mentored by their guide and Akko Educators’ Kibbutz member Zak Greenwald, have been running a bike maintenance workshop. Zak has been teaching the group of young teens the hands-on skills to fix and assemble old bicycles, as well as to ride safely in the city streets. For several months, they salvaged old bike parts and collected donations of unused bicycles from the city and nearby kibbutzim and moshavim.
Back at the workshop, the Ogen members learned to turn the old junk parts into perfectly functional bicycles. They couldn’t have been happier or prouder to have the opportunity to give something back by presenting three needy young kids from the neighborhood with their first ever bikes of their own.
Since opening the bicycle workshop, the Ogen has provided more 15 local children with fully working, safe bikes.