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Changing perceptions about special needs children

SHARE   |   Thursday, 22 August 2019   |   By Ricardo Kanono
Kali Jones and Mpho Balopi Kali Jones and Mpho Balopi

The Ambrose Trust 6th Annual Gala Dinner was held on Saturday evening (10TH August 2019) at Phakalane Golf Estate Hotel Resort to celebrate blossoming partnership with Ohio University, which has been nothing but bliss. Representatives of Ohio University revealed that they are impressed by progress made by Ambrose Trust Academy - a centre for special needs children- saying it has given them an opportunity for their students to learn from children with special needs in Botswana and also to provide intervention strategies for the children. They inidcated that all the children they met at the centre have made tremendous progress over the years and show potential to improve further.

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Officiating at the dinner, Charge’ d’Affaires – American Embassy, Kali Jones said it was an easy decision to make when she got the invitation to promote a casue that champions the needs of children with special needs because children play an important role in everyday lives. She said having interacted with staff at Ambrose Academy she appreciates their challenges and successes in advocating for the rights of special needs children. "This year's theme is a reminder of the challenging journey that everyone faces, but most importantl;y we celebrate the success of continually changing perceptions we have towards special needs children. For decades we have viewed specially challenged children to be unable to perform simpole tasks or even make intelligent conversations. Due to these, society has denied these children an opportunity to quality education. While policy in Botswana has become inclusive -in practice the school lags behind our ideals," said Jones.

"We must teach the world to see the child not his or her disability," Jones reiterated.

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For his part, invited guest businessman Mpho Balopi said he was humbled by reports from the Ohio team that there is potential with each every child they assessed at the Ambrose Academy and that the University of Ohio should encourage everyone to support this great cause-something that he commits to on a personal level. Balopi, who is the Secretary General of Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), encouraged members of the public, the business community and other stakeholders to come in large numbers to support this noble cause. “The six year partnership between the Ambrose Trust and Ohio University is unbelievable and amazing. It is important for everyone to support children with special needs and if I had known about the dinner sooner, I would have invited President Mokgweetsi Masisi to join us,” said Balopi.

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One of the parents who attended the Gala Dinner, Mr Badupi, pleaded with the members of the public and churches to tolerate Special Needs children. He also pleaded with the Government to subsidise Special Needs children by  providing necessary support like Speech Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Physiotherapy, education and extra curricula activities like cooking, swimming, chess and ball room dance which are important for rehabilitation. "These activities come at a huge costs, which most families and parents cannot afford. Every child has a potential to reach the best of their talents as long as they are nurtured sufficiently," he said.

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Shawn Brewer, Managing Director of Paratus Telecommunications Botswana, who regularly supports the academy said once you visit the school, one will never look back and that is why they saw the need to support the school with internet services. Brewer emphasised that technology is the way to go and as such they saw the need to support the school after they were lobbied to come on board by Carerra Holdings, who also donated tablets and laptops to the school. 



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