Each year, hundreds of students with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) graduate high school in Israel. While most of their peers continue on to the Israel Defence Forces (IDF), these graduates are exempt. As the army service is both a social and professional rite of passage, many of the graduates on the ASD spectrum have a strong desire to participate and to serve their country as IDF soldiers and later as adults, to become common citizens and part of Israel’s workforce.
“Roim Rachok,” which literally means “looking far beyond the horizons,” is a program that was established by L. Sali & T. Vardi based on an idea proposed by former Mossad Chief, Tamir Pardo. The basic principal is to combine a real need with real capabilities to create actual long term integration.
To provide young adults on the Autistic Spectrum an opportunity to enhance their strengths in core professions, find employment and contribute to society in a meaningful way.
Use the skills of people on the Autistic spectrum to fulfil various roles in needed professions. Some of the unique capabilities of individuals on the autistic spectrum enable them to carry out missions in a very high standard. They often have attention to detail, they are comfortable with routine, and many of them have very good visual capabilities.
Roim Rachok partners with the Israeli army and JNF Australia to create a long term program of 5 main stages:
- Sorting process – Assess potential candidates for suitability to each program.
- Training course – A 3 month training course to acquire the work and life skills needed for integration into the unit and in the workplace.
- Trial period – 4 months volunteering in the unit as a civilian to better understand the nature of the work and service and examine their suitability for military prior to approval as a volunteer soldier in the IDF.
- Service period – Participants serve in the army, contributing to the state like all their peers. In addition, their service in the unit enables them to gain employment experience.
- Employment – Roim Rachok establish unique connections with different enterprises, putting in place methods to allow the graduates to join the workplace and perform successfully.
The Roim Rachok program currently operates in the centre of Israel, with candidates coming from all over the country, some commuting a few hours every day. In addition, the demand for the program is rising significantly so expansion of the program is needed.
With your support, JNF Australia together with Roim Rachok will sustain the ongoing activities and expand the program to the north of Israel, to the Galil. The program will continue to run 3 courses each year as well opening a centre in the north, complete with new premises, training and mentors, to meet the rising demands to join Roim Rachok. Not less important, it will allow young adults from the North to join the program, to complete training and to serve in the IDF near their home and later, become part of the workforce in their community. Funds raised will go towards sustaining the current activities and fund the opening of a new centre in the north.