One of the greatest desires any child holds, is to be accepted by his or her peers. Yet, while many children find their acceptance, there are those who often find themselves pushed to one side.
These children are misunderstood, considered by many to be stupid. Yet, their desire to succeed in life and to form friendships is just as strong as any other child’s. These are the children of Esperanza Special Needs Schools.
Since 2011, Esperanza Special Needs School has offered children with an array of needs, a certain degree of acceptance. These needs include:
- Down Syndrome
- Cerebral Palsy
- Slow Learning
- Hearing and visual impairments
- Muscular disorders
- Behavioural problems
“We currently have 52 children attending the school. They are divided into six classes, which offers them the necessary individual attention that they need. We also have remedial classes, where the children will join mainstream schools,” explains principal, Jennifer Pillay.
With a staff compliment of 12 people, 10 of which are teachers, one wonders what it takes to working with these children. “You need patience, compassion and love,” Pillay says.
Each day, the staff and learners begin their day with devotion. From there, Pillay says classes begin which involve English, Afrikaans, Maths, Life Skills, Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy and sensory stimulation, as well as sign language.
While the school focuses on special needs children, the standard of education at Esperanza Special Needs School is not lacking as compared to “normal schools”. According to Pillay, the Grade 3 and Grade 4 learners have the same life science classes as mainstream schools.
Yet, while its standard of school is far from lacking, the school does need help. “At the moment, we need larger premises, as our current premises are too small, and we do not want to turn any children away. We also need a playground for our children.”
Currently, the charitable organisation Leaving A Legacy is raising funds via the upcoming Memel Walk. Furthermore, the Freemasons of Newcastle Lodge raised a staggering R10 000 for the school’s play equipment. But, the school does need more help.
Pillay explains not all the children’s parents can afford to pay school fees. “We cannot turn these children away, but we need to pay salaries and other expenditure. The teachers at Esperanza don’t get paid much, but they work with their hearts and we don’t want to lose them.”
But why is helping a school like Esperanza Special Needs School so important?
“The children are not accepted anywhere else. They are not invited to activities at other schools or any other events. While we hold awareness days, we want to show people that our children are friendly, love people and totally normal. They are not crazy or stupid like some might think,” Pillay emphasises.
She invites the community to visit the school at 11Rietbok Road or contact them on 034 312 4497. By helping the school, you can make a difference in a child’s life.