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Oct 3, 2019

"Smart Shirt for Autistic Patients" - a Project by Reham and Saja.

Reham & Saja take part in an exhibition.
Reham & Saja take part in an exhibition.

We are Riham and Saja and we are partners in our project called Smart Shirt for Autistic Patients. We developed our business during TYO’s Youth Rehabilitation Through Entrepreneurship Program (YREP).

The Smart Shirt for Autistic Patients is an interactive electronic shirt designed to monitor an autistic child’s condition and movements. Parents or guardians receive an alert when the child is exposed to any external harm through a headset connected to the shirt. This gives the parents a chance to help their child if there is a problem, but also gives their children a critical sense of independence. The shirt uses vibration and music to relieve tension and provide psychological treatment for children. It is possible to record several different sounds and music on the shirt so that it is specialized to help them learn, develop their mind, and encourage participation in dialogue with others. The beneficiaries of this project are autistic patients and their families, but we sell the product to autism centers, associations, and hospitals that have sections for autistic patients.

We first learned about YREP through social networking sites. We underwent all the training phases and sessions in order to gain all the information and experience we needed. The training included many practical terms to help us build our project fully and smoothly. We completed the training with a professional marketing plan and a detailed financial budget that we can present to anyone without hesitation.

The final phase of the program was the mentorship phase. Meeting an inspiring doctor who specializes in autism helped us answer many questions related to medical information. this enabled us to develop our project better by linking information with technology. At the end of the program we received a $1,000 financial grant. This money allowed us to develop our project electronically. We were able to buy modern and sophisticated electronics that helped us build the project in a competitive commercial way in the Palestinian medical and electronic market.

We have been working on the project for two years now, but the first year was before we joined the program. We can say that our project was following a completely different course in the first year from the one we are now following after the entrepreneurship program. Now that we have our own business plan and we can develop it regularly, we can create pilot projects fully and deal with any confrontations and difficulties. This program made us a completely different professional person. We feel very proud of ourselves after completing all the program phases and applying it all on our project. We have been trying to have funding from the Higher Council for Innovation and Excellence for a long time, but we couldn’t have it. After finishing the program, we provided them with our detailed business, financial, and marketing plan. Finally, they accepted us and we are now in the process of having the fund. Today, we are still working on this project in various ways to reach its successful final image. We are not far from the final version of our shirt and we proudly say that this is thanks  the entrepreneurship program implemented by TYO.

Aug 7, 2019

The Universal Language of Children

Elisa's students shower her with hugs
Elisa's students shower her with hugs

Since I was little, I have been fascinated by languages and the thousands of combinations of sounds and symbols that human beings have developed to communicate. Whenever I have been travelling, I’ve always loved to hear people speaking their own language and to try to imitate the sounds of their words. When I found out I had been accepted for an internship in Palestine, I was really excited about the idea of living in an Arabic-speaking country. I still didn’t know that I would learn another language during these months: the language of children.

I remember that my main concern when I started teaching at TYO was the language barrier. How will I communicate with my students? Will I be able to understand their needs and to provide them with the right support? What if the lack of communication between me and them will affect their learning process?But after the first time I saw my students entering the classroom one by one with their contagious smiles, proudly greeting me with a loud “Good morning!” and an energetic high five, I remembered something precious I learned from my previous working experiences with kids abroad: there is no linguistic or cultural barrier children can’t break.

Over the years, I’ve come to know that kids have this magic inside them. They live in their own pure world, made of imagination, games and exploration. It’s the same world in which we used to live as well, before we “grew up,” and children can lead us there, if we are open to it.  It doesn’t matter what language you speak: kids have this incredible skill of communicating by easily creating an emotional connection with others.

As soon as we grow up, we tend to hide our feelings and we are ashamed of showing them. Children, on the other hand, through their pureness and spontaneity, seem to have much more emotional awareness and empathy than adults.They actually don’t need many words. Children know how to reach out to people and how to connect with them by using a wide range of spontaneous facial expressions, body language, and eye and body contact to express their emotions and feelings. They can easily show happiness and excitement or show genuine pride when they succeed in things. They can make you understand when they are sad or disappointed. They know how to ask for help and how to communicate their needs, as well as to show their gratitude. The only thing you have to do is listen to them.

During these months, I learned from my students that what children really need and expect from us is to put our heart and passion in what we do, to create a safe place for them where they can feel listened to, understood and loved. There is no need to share the same language or culture to create a meeting point with kids. Little simple actions like sitting with them, teaching them a song, miming things, making them smile, and sharing laughs are enough.

Working with children at TYO reminded me every day of the importance of expressing and identifying emotions in our daily life as a precious component of connecting and communicating with others. Sometimes, what we need to do is forget about the rationality of adults and listen more to the little child inside us.

Core class shows their handmade Mother Day cards
Core class shows their handmade Mother Day cards

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Jul 8, 2019

When Traditional and Modern-Day Taste Meet!

Alaa and Rawan during TYO trainings
Alaa and Rawan during TYO trainings

Our names are Alaa Omar and Rawan Rawajbi and we are business partners. We heard about the Youth Rehabilitation Through Entrepreneurship Program (YREP) through the announcement that was made on TYO’s Facebook page. We benefited a lot from the trainings by learning how to create a business plan from A to Z. We also learned the importance of market study, SWOT analysis, and second market research. We were able to identify the vision and mission of our business.

In addition, we realized how to determine a budget and profit margin ratio for our business. We now have a strong ground and greater confidence in our business and products after completing the required analysis for them, the market, targeted customers, and all its different aspects.  We are happy to say that we were able to establish a clear-cut 3-year business plan.

We have a business where we create handmade Palestinian embroidery products. We insert the Palestinian embroidery on modern clothes and accessories in currently trendy colors. Basically, we combine tradition with modern-day taste. We sell our products by participating in exhibitions that are held in different cities in the West Bank. In addition, we use our Facebook and Instagram pages to sell online. Our products are sold mostly to women of any age from 10 to 60 years old.

We benefited from the program through understanding where we are in the market and where we want to reach. We identified our ambitions and the needed steps to achieve our goals and vision. We realized the risks that we should avoid and the ones we should accumulate in our favor in order to achieve business progress and success. We used the award money that we won at the end of the program for two main purposes: We bought an advanced sewing machine that is very necessary for our business and we participated in a training to improve our sewing and embroidery skills and techniques.

By doing so, we were able to expand and add new products to our business. We will always be grateful to QFFD and TYO for their constant trust and belief in us throughout this journey.

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