Down Syndrome is one of the most common intellectual disabilities. However there are still schools that are reluctant to accept children with this condition, as they do not have the specialised skills needed to cater to learners with special needs.
Given this lack of adequate support, Panarottis Jean Avenue has opted to support Club 21, a Christian school for children living with Down Syndrome based in Pretoria.
“Our relationship with Club 21 began in 2016. We have donated funds and provided on-the-job mentorship, where learners have the opportunity to do shadow shifts, exposing them to the working environment. It is extremely rewarding to be in a position to help these kids build key skills that may help provide a source of future income,” says Yolanda Nell-Dawson of Panarottis Jean Avenue.
Club 21 was founded by Izelle Els, who is mother to a child with Down Syndrome. Due to the various educational barriers her child faced, Izelle was inspired to build a school that would offer children an opportunity to develop and thrive in an environment that was designed to cater to their focused and unique needs.
The partnership between Spur Corporation’s non-profit organisation ‘The Full Tummy Fund’, and Panarottis Jean Avenue has seen the donation of occupational therapy and educational equipment including toys to Club 21. The Full Tummy Fund partners with privately owned franchisees within the Spur group, to give them the additional support to assist a charity they have been previously involved with.
‘The Full Tummy Fund’ is used to invest in early childhood educational and nutritional programmes. The organisation believes that one of the most effective means of eradicating poverty in disadvantaged communities, is to invest in early childhood development.
“Children with Down Syndrome require special attention and personalised teaching techniques. We often find they often get lost in the education system as it is not properly equipped for their development,” says Izelle Els founder of Club 21.
Club 21 serves up to 30 students, aged three to 15, with classes kept small to provide individualised care. The school’s vision is to open more centres in each province and to grow beyond South African borders.