In recent years, Israel has witnessed a dramatic increase in participation by young people in youth movements (there are now 250,000 participants, an increase of 65% in the past decade). As financial disparities in Israel grow, more and more of these young participants come from families who struggle to send them on trips and to summer camps. NOAL has reported a 35% annual increase over the past three years in the number of participants who can participate only with the help of scholarships. In the last year alone, every fifth participant who attended the national leadership training camp required a scholarship in order to attend.
NOAL’s motto — “Our house is open to every boy and girl” — means that every young person in Israel has the right to participate in the youth movement’s activities. Therefore, many resources have been invested (prices lowered, scholarship funds opened) to ensure that every participant who wants to is able to participate in these activities.
One of the major efforts behind this campaign is the Equality Fund, which was established by NOAL together with movement graduates and current movement members and parents, with the aim of ensuring that every Israeli child can take part in the movement’s activities. The fund raises money to enable children and teens in need of assistance to participate in hikes, summer camps and other activities. A special site has been established to allow contributors to donate to the fund online. Additionally, parents of current movement members can contribute to the Equality Fund through NOAL’s online payment portal.
Over the years, more than a million and a half Israelis have taken part in NOAL activities (32% of the Jewish public are reported to have participated at one time in movement activities) where they had experiences that will accompany them for the rest of their lives. Growing up as a youth movement member is an irreplicable experience. The goal of the Equality Fund is to ensure that hundreds of thousands of young people can continue to experience the same life changing experiences that over a million and a half Israelis have had before them.
Eshkar Shahar (32), Equality Fund director and NOAL graduate: “Our vision is that every Israeli child will have the right to choose to participate in NOAL, to experience the magic and to grow up to be a caring and responsible adult. Participating in the youth movement is an experience that has no substitute. I still remember the first hike I went on without my parents and the independence I felt after two weeks of sleeping at the campsite. We believe that movement membership is a basic right, that should be afforded to every person, without relation to their family’s financial status.”