When a child has special needs or Down syndrome, selecting a school becomes even tougher. Most conventional schools do not have the capabilities to adequately serve the full spectrum of special educational needs, meaning that the alternative is usually a special needs school. However, there is a gap for children which are highly functioning but require a personal and customised approach to education.
SOWLE Centre, a non-profit organisation, was founded in 2011 with the central goal of catering to children with Down syndrome. Over the past eight years, it has grown to accommodate children with other special educational needs. To better serve this unique category of learners, the school has partnered with local businesses to be able to offer the individualised education that these learners need.
The Steyn Group has played an integral role in the growth of the school. The group owns a number of restaurants under the Spur Corporation umbrella, including Santa Rio Spur, Thunder Eagle Spur, Mall@Carnival RocoMamas, Carnival City RocoMamas, Mall@Carnival John Dory’s and Carnival City Panarottis.
Over the past few years the Steyn Group has provided vouchers, food and assisted with fundraising for the school on an ongoing basis.
“I first became involved with SOWLE Centre because I was looking for a school for my own child. I resonated with the mission that Belinda and Richard van Heerden had for the school and what they are doing for the children.
“The Full Tummy Fund, the Spur corporation’s non-profit organisation, has bolstered our support by donating occupational and educational equipment and we’ve been able to make a meaningful contribution to the development of the school,” explains Danelle Steyn, co-owner of Steyn Group.
‘The Full Tummy Fund’ seeks to give Spur Group franchisees additional support, in order to make a meaningful difference in the communities in which they operate. The organisation believes that investing in early childhood development is one of the most effective means of eradicating poverty in disadvantaged communities.
SOWLE Centre bases their curriculum on the English Early Years’ Foundation Stage Curriculum (EYFS), which they are developing to ensure learners receive a well-rounded education. “We want the children to leave with the skills necessary to find employment, live independently as much as possible, follow their dreams, and Soar On Wings Like Eagles (SOWLE) wherever they will find themselves in life,” says Jacqui Coetzer of the SOWLE centre.
“The reality is that these parents are under massive financial pressure because of the unique needs of their children. We need to come together as a community to support these children, and further involvement is needed from local businesses to support the school,” concludes Danelle Steyn, co-owner of Steyn Group.
Want to assist? Visit www.sowlecentre.co.za