A new skills development wing at the Bizweni Centre for Disabled Children, in Somerset West, will serve those at the school who need specialised care and stimulation.
The new unit will cater for 30 children between the ages of 12 and 18. It was officially opened in March 2016.
“Ideally, we want to keep stimulating these children with social, educational and physical learning opportunities as they grow up so that they are able to improve in all areas and ultimately enjoy the best possible quality of life,” said Vicky Hinrichsen, the centre’s project manager.
The new unit consists of two large classrooms, toilets with wheelchair access, a patio for outdoor activities and a new office.
An extension to the existing building, it cost more than R2-million was completed by Rotary Club of Helderberg in partnership with Peninsula Beverages, the local bottler and distributor of The Coca-Cola Company products in Western and Northern Cape; Rotary Club of Newlands; and several large and small sponsors.
“Rotary International president Ravi Ravindran, at the beginning of his tenure, asked Rotarians to be a ‘Gift to the World’ and to ensure the gifts they provide are not just given as hand-outs, but are offered with love and respect,” Geraldine Nicol, the district governor of Rotary District 9350, said at the official opening.
“Today we celebrate the opening of the extension to the Bizweni Centre for Disabled Children, a gift given with much love and respect by the Rotary Club of Helderberg together with our grateful thanks to the donors, which include individuals, sister Rotary Clubs, certain charitable trusts and Peninsula Beverages, all of whom helped turn the impossible dream into a reality.”
At the centre, children learn basic computer skills, gardening, cooking and cleaning skills as well as how to write.
Bizweni has been running for 18 years and has 56 children, all of whom have physical, intellectual or developmental disabilities such as autism, cerebral palsy, and Down syndrome.
Most of them come from homes where services such as individualised occupational, speech and remedial therapy are increasingly difficult to obtain. For many of the children, placement at the appropriate special needs schools is not a possibility.
The physical well-being of children at Bizweni is also critical and they are encouraged to develop their muscle strength and mobility under the guidance of carers.
“The staff at Bizweni are true heroes for bringing such joy into the lives of these children each day,” said John Joubert, the Peninsular Beverages commercial director. “We are thankful for the opportunity to partner with Bizweni and Rotary Club of Helderberg to complete our 28th brick and mortar project which will ultimately ensure more children with disabilities are able to flourish.”
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