Established in 1979, the Kedma Youth Village is on the Kastina-Be’er Sheva Highway at the site of the deserted Kibbutz Kedma. The village was especially established to care for adolescent youth who having dropped out of all educational and occupational frameworks in their communities, are on the fringes of society, on their way to a subculture of criminal delinquency. At present, there are approximately 140 youths (of both sexes) at the village, either of their own free will with no external coercion or because of punitive action taken by treatment factors. The village provides responses to all these adolescents’ needs, whether physical, educational or in their emotional world that has especially suffered damage.
These youths have a background of failure in adapting to primary frameworks in the family, society and at school. They are defined as high-risk youth on the threshold of a life of crime, however crime has not yet become their lifestyle. It is important that these youths should have a normative perception of life despite their past experiences. They arrive at the village with educational and social gaps that have pressed them into the very fringes of society.
In its essence, the village is educational and rehabilitating with a therapeutic emphasis and includes the most diverse professional staff: Social workers, psychologists, art therapists, dedicated teachers and counselors, matrons and branch coordinators who offer professional training.
The therapeutic staff members are residents at the village and play active roles in the youths' life experiences. They participate in meals in the village dining room and are involved in cultural activities both in and outside the village. They assist in breaking down the barriers and antagonism that has characterized the adolescents’ lives before they arrived at the village.
Treatment takes place in social frameworks of 10-12 students per group, in the school and the various work locations in the village. Both individual and group therapy deals with severe areas such as verbal and physical violence, drugs, a lack of primary habits and a set of values characterized by aberrance.
Kedma's blacksmith’s plant
The Kedma students combine learning with occupational training during the morning hours, while in the afternoons and early evening they enjoy a variety of enrichment activities such as art, sport, music, horse riding and diverse cultural activities.
The students study for 8 hours a day at the school. The educational level varies from complementing basic education to completing 12 years of study that, in most cases, includes sitting for matriculation examinations. By obtaining a matriculation certificate they are provided with an opportunity to change the course of their life from a path of repeated failure and disappointment to an experience of success and a future with options and opportunities.
Within the occupational training framework, the youths work in agriculture, landscape gardening, the blacksmith’s plant, the carpentry shop, office management, home economics, dressmaking, computerized graphic art and videocassette filming etcetera to develop a capability to receive a certificate from the Labor Ministry on their chosen professional field. Occupational training is part of the school curriculum.
Most students spend four years at the village and, during the last semester of their final year, they undergo preparation for enlistment into the army, according to a personal program. The village graduates usually serve in regular army units, with some serving in elite combat units.
At Kedma, we aim to absorb youth at high risk who have dropped out of the various educational systems and to enable them to integrate fully into society. We strive to assist them to realize their learning, educational and familial goals and impart them with the values of loving their fellow humans, the environment and nature.
We aim to familiarize them with the freedom and democracy essential for them to choose their lifestyles, free from dependence on others, with the ability to accept assistance when necessary. Achieving all this will truly turn the lives of these young underprivileged youth around, providing them with a real opportunity to thrive and succeed.