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Shfeyah runners are winners!

Two weeks ago after only 3 months of training, 76 children from the Hadassah / Meir Shfeyah Youth Village,  accompanied by 14 teachers, counselors, housemothers , soldiers serving in the village, volunteers and village administrators participated in the annual run at Mount Tavor in memory of Yitzchak Sadeh ( 1890-1952) , commander of the Palmach,  founder of the Israeli Defense Forces and  promoter and educator in the field of Jewish sport in Israel.  Sadeh  recognized physical education as having important cultural and educational values and  created the motto, Alafim lo Alufim (Thousands, not Champions) encouraging the participation of all, not only trained athletes in sport.

One of the runners, an 11th grade student  Shelly whined all the way while holding hands and running with Deganit, a Shfeyah teacher. Shelley didn’t give up because Deganit held her hand and encouraged her  the entire way. Shelley was incredulous and  ecstatic to have finished a race she at first didn’t think she could do. This is what we do at Shfeyah. We don’t give up. 
Our children are winners because at Shfeyah they are not alone . Many of our students have not succeeded in the past because they did not believe in themselves and had no one to trust and encourage them . Many have almost given up before they arrived at our village. Many of our Shfeyah runners are NOT outstanding students and have serious learning and behavioral problems nevertheless, their determination,  and the encouragement and love of the adults who work with them and the support of their peers enable them to overcome their lack of confidence, frustration, anger and failures. Running , for many of them, is the first time they have discovered their own strengths  and pushed  themselves to succeed. 
The idea for a Shfeyah Track Team began 3 months ago with the goal of recruiting 15 teenagers. The  initial meeting was attended by 70 ! students in grades 8-12, approximately 1/3 of them girls and ½ Ethiopians. The sport teachers and coach were encouraged by the large number of interested students, anticipating that some of them would probably drop out because of the physical and time demands of training. To their surprise, at the second meeting, 80 !  students showed up ! They train three times / week and during school vacations:  once a week with a trained coach and twice a week with their village counselors who have volunteered their time.  All students are required to pass a medical examination to determine their fitness for the training and races. Most of them use a cellphone application called “Sports Tracker” to monitor their distances , times and progress. This year they will participate in 3 long distance races ( between 5000-1000 meters).