Yaelim: Nature Therapy for Youth-at-Risk at Ein Yael

Yaelim Photo 2



Nature Therapy for Youth-at-Risk at Ein Yael


Need:A disproportionate percentage of adolescents in Jerusalem's low-income and mixed-income neighborhoods are considered "youth-at-risk." Many of these high-school students also struggle with reading and learning disabilities and other obstacles to academic achievement that leave them on the cusp of dropping out of high school altogether. Teenagers facing such challenges may even turn to vandalism, violence, drugs or other forms of “acting-out” that threaten their prospects for a successful future.


Response: The Ein Yael Living Museum, established by the Jerusalem Foundation 30 years ago, developed its novel Yaelim program in 2005, utilizing nature as an all-encompassing therapeutic resource to empower the city's marginalized youth and to give them the life skills they need to integrate fully into greater Israeli society.


Populations Served: Yaelim helps youth from across the socio-ethnic spectrum of Jerusalem society – religious and secular, Jewish and Arab – from a range of problematic backgrounds, including those suffering from socioeconomic deprivation, domestic abuse, or serious learning and behavioral difficulties. These teenagers, some of whom are living on the street or in shelters for homeless youth, have exhausted all formal educational options and are referred to Yaelim by community service organizations seeking to provide these youth with an alternative framework – one that has consistently demonstrated the power of its approach.


Impact: The many teens who benefitted from Yaelim resources last year included: 1,300 participants took part in one-time workshops and activities "in nature" at Yaelim; 121 youths participated in year-long nature therapy programs; 75 groups participated in challenge sports activities; 80 sessions of the Ein Yael bicycling club took place; and three Etgarim groups (extreme sports for the physically disabled) made their home at Yaelim.