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Equal in Uniform

“Equal in Uniform”

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As part of AKIM Israel’s ongoing efforts to empower and to include persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities in “community” life, a unique partnership was created with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

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Equal in Uniform – a program that prepares young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities to serve in the IDF.

This 2-year program allows young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities to become Equal in Uniform, to serve in the IDF and to implement an important step for future employment opportunities.

The IDF and military service are among the core values of Israeli society. For most Israeli citizens, service in the IDF is a foundational experience. We believe that it is important that young adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities should also have this experience, within the limits of their abilities and needs.

Akim Israel recruits, trains, supports, escorts and empowers, every year, 30 young adults (3 groups of 10 candidates age 21-27) with intellectual and developmental disabilities during a unique military service in the IDF.

The 2-year Equal in Uniform program allows young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities to serve in the IDF, performing specific tasks.

The (1 year) pre-induction training program consists of one-day per week training where participants learn:

  • Theoretical subjects (16 meetings)
  • Social and sexual studies (8 meetings)
  • Sports and other Physical ChallengesWorkshops (8 meetings)
  • Various other essential subjects

In addition to the one-day per week training, participants attend 4 workshop sessions of military basic training. Each workshop consists of three-day meetings while being housed in dormitories.

The final (tekkes) ceremony, subsequent to the two-week boot camp, when Parents of these young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, (who have just become IDF soldiers!) –  witness their ceremonial salute to the Israeli flag, is such a moving event. The toughest and most decorated IDF officials have been known to weep with pride. No one is left with a “dry eye” at this incredibly moving moment.

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Reports show that Equal in Uniform creates immeasurable awareness and interaction between commanders, fellow soldiers and the program participants. The program sets the purest example of how society accepts and works successfully alongside people with disabilities, and it is the best expression of AKIM’s vision: “To make Israeli Society a better place for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities.”

 

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