Israel Tennis & Education Centers (ITEC), one of the country’s largest social service organizations, founded in 1976, has launched several critical initiatives to help thousands of traumatized children cope and feel safer as the Hamas war unfolds.
ITEC has 24 community facilities throughout Israel that provide support ─ through tennis and other activities ─ to 20,000 children each year who face difficult home situations, have special needs, or are considered at risk. Through the infrastructure ITEC has built over the last 45 years, ITEC has been able to take immediate action with its extensive community facilities to help children, and their families, who are going through unimaginable times. Several of these facilities are located in the South, including Ashkelon, Beer-Sheva, and Ofakim.
“The stories we hear from our Centers around the country are horrific and heartbreaking, with many of our staff impacted by murdered or missing family members,” says Eyal Taoz, interim chief executive officer. “Nevertheless, putting a smile on these children’s faces gives us the strength and determination to continue our critical work for the children of Israel. The trauma that exists today will last long after the conflict subsides, and we will be here to help.”
Children, and their families, who have been displaced from unsafe areas in the South have been relocated with no clothes, food, or toys. Many others are stuck at home for countless hours, seeking safety in bomb shelters with nothing to do.
ITEC is addressing emerging needs with critical support services:
Providing Mental Health Support – ITEC’s trained professionals, including psychologists, are reaching out to hundreds of children and their families daily, both virtually and with visits to their homes, to provide coping and resilience skills.
ITEC Emergency Relief Vehicle – A staff team, including psychologists, is visiting ITEC children from Southern border communities to provide basic items and emotional support, using the first of what they hope will be several Emergency Relief Vehicles.
Relocating Children from Border Towns – ITEC is arranging for children from the Southern and Northern borders to relocate to safer areas. Host families in Central Israel are eager to help these children escape the trauma of constant sirens, rocket explosions and fear.
Delivering Hot Meals – ITEC delivers hot meals to families who live close to the border and have been profoundly impacted by the horrific attacks.
Bringing Activity Centers to Children – Our coaches are sending tennis instruction videos to ITEC children so they can view them at home and maintain a semblance of routine until centers can safely re-open.
“At ITEC our focus is our children and their families,” says Yoni Yair, ITEC senior vice president of development. “The support we provide will be critical in the coming days, weeks, and months as we help our children cope and heal their trauma.”
To donate today, please visit https://itecenters.org/donate/.