‘Natural – To Be Me’ creates inclusive comminutes using local community gardens via social leisure activities as a therapeutic tool for special needs children, teenagers and young adults.
What is a community garden?
A community garden is a single and a unique meeting point on a piece of land gardened collectively by a group of people. Community gardens utilize either individual or shared plots on private or public land while producing fruit, vegetables, and/or plants grown for their attractive appearance.
In a world of industrialized cities, lack of green open spaces within cities as well as mental and physical remoteness from nature, community gardens portray “A Green Lung” in residential areas.
What is the environmental challenge?
Roughly two decades ago, individuals began to establish community gardens in order to create ‘Green Lungs’ of urban nature within residential areas with governmental and local authorities’ support. In light of the growing demand, in the last decade hundreds of gardens have been created in cities, local councils and rural localities. It is estimated that there are currently about 600 community gardens operating throughout Israel.
What is the community challenge?
Community gardens are currently managed by residential volunteers who nourish the gardens with natural resources and local human presence. At the same time, despite the sharp increase in the number of community gardens, there are difficulties in uniting the community around extracurricular activities as well as day-to-day maintenance using regular volunteers.
What is the social challenge?
Special needs children, youth and young people’s social life is challenging and can be accompanied by a feeling of loneliness and social anxiety. The variety of afternoon activities and informal activities that exist is limited in comparison to the demand and proximity to their place of residence. As of today, environmental, recycling and healthy longevity circles in natural urban spaces and community gardens for the wider public in general and especially for young people and adults with special needs, are not supported by local municipalities and hardly exist. Therefore, we decided to establish ‘Natural – to be me‘.
What is the innovative component?
‘Natural – to be me‘ provides an organized and value-based solution through nature, social and leisure activities in natural urban spaces close to home for the variety of local residents to receive equal opportunity to live in ‘Green Lungs’ and develop a natural, green and healthy life.
What is the purpose behind this initiative?
Integrating special needs children, teenagers and young adults by “Planting their roots” in open public spaces within their local community utilizing community gardens.
Children, teenagers and young adults with and without special needs together with their families.
Community gardens across the country.
In practice, how does it work?
‘Natural – to be me‘ is present through our field managers who are actually the breathing layer of our special community.
Who are our field managers?
Field managers are the face of ‘Natural – to be me‘ within their local communities. In fact they are the ‘Missing Puzzle’ that connects ‘Natural to be me‘ to local residents. Each city and council that supports our activities, will be assigned a regional area manager who will be responsible for opening new group gardens and promoting our activities to professional bodies. Field managers work under the umbrella of ‘Natural – to be me’, thus receive training and guidance from the initial stage and throughout the process.
If we made you want to join our field managers’ team, please click here and fill out your details.
Warning It’s addictive!
Thanks to you, we can get to know individuals with special needs in order to assist in removing barriers of shame, assist in eradicating the stigma that exists in different populations, thus becoming a more inclusive, solidary and accepting society.
We Begin in Raanana City
Gardening classes, recycling, environmental art, sustainability and environmental protection.
Social events that include experiential formation sessions in the community.
The inclusive dialogue program provides individuals with specials needs with the opportunity to speak authentically on their personal experience of coping, struggling, and overcoming challenges of living with a special needs and share it with different audiences.