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      Meir Panim Provides After-School Fun

      Underprivileged children in Israel are receiving after-school activities their families normally cannot afford. Meir Panim fills the gap.
      By Tami Benmayer
      First Publish: 11/7/2012, 11:59 AM

      After-school fun with Meir Panim
      After-school fun with Meir Panim
      Israel news photo: Meir Panim

      Underprivileged children in Israel are receiving after-school activities their families normally cannot afford, with the Meir Panim relief organization providing free after-school clubs, ranging from martial arts to dance.

      The need for after-school activities is especially felt after the High Holidays, when children from higher-income families enjoy extra-curricular activities while their parents work, a privilege that lower-income families cannot afford.

      Meir Panim recognizes this gap and for the last eight years has provided a much-needed solution to over 300 needy children in cities across Israel.

      Four days a week, Meir Panim's network of free after-school clubs offers children between the ages of six and 13 a respite from the inevitable challenges faced at home. The children are provided with a warm and supportive environment where they can gain important life skills and at the same time really enjoy themselves.

      Workshops at after-school clubs including martial arts, self-defense, dance, computers and art, run by a professional staff and an army of volunteers.

      There is a homework corner for those who need help and qualified teachers work individually with each child, giving him the attention he needs. The children can also take part in specialized therapies such as music, dance and animal therapy, often vital for those experiencing stressful home situations.

      The children also receive a nourishing hot meal, often the only proper meal many of the children will be receiving that day.

      Their families also benefit from the environment, with each Meir Panim center director knowing the parents and understanding their individual struggles.

      Once a week, while their children are at the after-school clubs, many parents attend a coaching session, run by a licensed counselor. They receive guidance in the fields of parenting, relationships and financial management, and for the large immigrant community that Meir Panim works with, cultural activities to help parents integrate into Israeli society are also included in the session.

      Meir Panim strives to prevent Israel's disadvantaged population from reaching the road to deterioration, as a result of the absence of a structured framework, by addressing important family needs.