Students from around the world show off teamwork in innovative projects
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Students from around the world show off teamwork in innovative projects

Prizes are awarded in memory of the late Gina and Joseph Harmatz, who played pivotal roles in ORT’s history.

Jenni Frazer is a freelance journalist

Smart t-shirt designed at ORT Herzl Technological School
Smart t-shirt designed at ORT Herzl Technological School

 Groups of ORT students in Russia, Moldova, South Africa and Brazil are among the winners of a prestigious annual award.

The 2019 World ORT Gina and Joseph Harmatz Awards recognise young people who have excelled in their social responsibility.

Prizes are awarded in memory of the late Gina and Joseph Harmatz, who played pivotal roles in ORT’s history.

Joseph, who was director general of World ORT in the 1980s-1990s, was a wartime partisan regarded as a hero of Lithuania’s resistance movement against the Nazis. His wife, Gina, escaped Nazi persecution in western Europe in the 1930s and 1940s before settling in Israel.

Among this year’s winners are a team from the ORT Herzl Technological School in Kishinev, Moldova, who have created a wearable device that can constantly monitor the condition of people with long-term medical issues and notify families and emergency services if the person suffers a heart attack, stroke, or falls.

The device is fitted to a vest or T-shirt, meaning the user can easily wear it every day.

Other winners included a volunteer project run by students at the ORT Tekhiya School in Moscow, Russia.

The pupils decided to deepen their relationship with older community members by asking them to share their experiences of the war, the Holocaust and their lives.

Johannesburg-based Carly Rachelson and Anna Kayla Joffe were acknowledged for organising weekly bus trips from their King David Linksfield High School – which is affiliated to ORT – to the Selwyn Segal home for the disabled, and Sandringham Gardens home for the elderly.

The message from students at the Gesher ORT secondary school in Samara, Russia, was “it’s never too late to learn”. Their volunteer group works with older people to tutor them on using the internet to communicate with relatives.

The team from the ORT Instituto de Tecnologia in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where their project – Brailinux – created a translating interface that turns tweets into Braille so the blind can use Twitter.

Avi Ganon, World ORT director general, said: “What we see in these projects is
so many of the values that
ORT believes in: tikkun olam, teamwork, a sense of belonging, forward-thinking attitudes and problem-solving skills.”

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