I may have mentioned in my blog that I have been volunteering at Down Syndrome school here in Riyadh. We had a meeting a few days ago discussing the plans for the next year and the money we are hoping to raise, as it’s a non-profit organization, and what we plan to do with it and even though I am relatively new to the school I am so proud of what they have done and what they plan to do I had to share it with you all.
The School was born out of the need of a mother, Ericka Koffroth Sabban, who married a Saudi man and moved to Riyadh. Ericka could not find any early intervention services for her young daughter who was born with Down Syndrome. She reached out to the Al-Nahda philanthropic society for women to help her establish a place that would provide these services for her daughter and other children in Riyadh who needed it.
It started as a small preschool with a grand total of 4 students in 1987. 10 years later it had expanded to offer services and education to children from birth to the age of 21.
The school had a lot of support from international leading experts and programs from day one. Video tapes were made and sent over with training guides for the teachers, experts and consultants would visit and contribute to the program, training, curriculum.
The methods gained and developed by the school were state of the art. It was the first school of it’s kind and continues to be a leader in it’s field and unique in it’s ability to cater to the individual needs of the children and to carry them from birth to adulthood. Not only did the school provide educational services to it’s student but it also provided counseling, support and training for parents and caregivers as well.
In 2010, with 150 students and 900 more on the waiting list, it was evident that it was time for AlNahda Down Syndrome School to become an independent entity onto it’s self in order to achieve it’s full potential and accommodate the growing need for programs like this one in the Kingdom. In January of that year, Saut: the voice of down syndrome society was born.
The vision and mission of the society is to provide state of the art services to all children with down syndrome and their families in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. How? by opening a center of excellence in Riyadh and expanding the school to accommodate 300 students. Then to establish 5 other schools around Saudi Arabia as well as satellite offices that offer support and training to parents and educational teams in existing programs.
“The society envisions a future where the needs of every child with Down Syndrome in Saudi Arabia are met with world class, individually tailored provision; a future where children and adults with Down Syndrome are integrated into society and respected as active, productive and valued members of the community.”
If you are able to support us by donating please click on this link for details. It’s even as easy as sending a text message from within the Kingdom with the number “1” in it to 5053 to donate 12 SR monthly or a blank text for a one of donation of 10 SR. We also appreciate any volunteers who would like to donate their time or services either in the upcoming fundraising events or items that are relevant to the school.
I’ve included an episode of the popular show here is Saudi called “Khawatir Shaab” that aired last Ramathan in which the host Ahmad Al Shugairi visited the school. I apologize for those of you who don’t speak Arabic and I will try and see if I can get some subtitles!