Elinor Yaso is the chair of the Kiryat Malachi Youth Council. She is a senior in AMAL high school the secular public secondary school in Kiryat Malachi with approximately 750 students. This is her second year as chair.
She first joined the Youth Council at the beginning of 10th grade. She joined as part of the new program in high school where teens have to do serious volunteering in 11th and 12th grades to get a "bagrut" in community service, and they have to do a limited amount of volunteering in 10th grade. The Youth Coucil was considered a volunteer community service program, so she decided to join it. She was rather shy and reserved. Elinor is Ethiopian-Israeli from a more modern family, and her parents have encouraged to do well in school.
That year, there was a lot of leadership training in the Youth Council and Elinor went to all of the training She began to see how she could become more assertive and speak out for the needs of the youth in town.
She went to many meetings in Kiryat Malachi, representing youth locally in town as well at the regional and national level.
About a year ago when there were headlines nationally about people in Kiryat Malachi refusing to rent or sell apartments to Ethiopian-Israelis, Elinor spoke out on behalf of her peers. She spoke at regional conferences, to the press, and on TV too saying that she has not felt discrimination in Kiryat Malachi. She speaks quite elegantly and people pay attention to her.
In the community she has also volunteered regularly in the Tzeva program for disadvantaged elementary school children.
One summer because of her efforts in the Youth Council, she was chosen to participate in the Nesiya program, and traveled with Americans while they were on tour in Israel. She then went to the US to meet up with the same teens in an organized program during Hanukkah.
Elinor is on the left in the picture below which was taken at a TIPS steering committee meeting at the end of Elinor's sophomore year of school when Youth Council members attended the meeting and spoke.
She has participated on committees on the regional level in Ashdod and also for all of the South of Israel.
She was named a remarkable volunteer by a committee of adults from the local Education Department as was Bentzion Zandani, a local teen who is handicapped and uses a wheelchair to get around. The local committee also nominated her to be recognized as a remarkable teen volunteer nationally (for teens who volunteer in unique settings). The town should hear soon whether she has been accepted and will get an award on the national level.
If Elinor had not joined the Youth Council and had gone through leadership training, she probably would not have developed in the assertive and elegant person/speaker she has become.
Another story of how the Youth Council changed the life of a local teen is that of Lital.
She also asked Lital what the Youth Council meant to her personally. Lital said that although she only had one year to be involved since its rebirth, it really helped her a lot. Through the leadership training and participation in programs with her peers, she really learned what responsibility meant in depth and the importance of follow through. She also learned how to deal with many different kinds of people.
Through the YC events and programs, she said that she was pushed out of her comfort zone and succeeded, growing and maturing. She learned to organize speeches and speak in public, something that was not taught in her high school. She is religious, so will not go to the army but will do "national service." She originally had planned to work in an easy job in a nearby hospital. But since her experience on the Youth Council, she decided to work with teens at risk in Petach Tikva, especially young Ethiopian-Israeli girls. She feels that since she is capable, and should take responsibility to do something more challenging and will a greater impact.