The Bizweni Centre for Disabled Children in Somerset West now has a new skills development unit that will cater for 30 children who require specialised care and stimulation.
The children celebrated at the official opening of the new unit on Thursday March 17, by telling a short story with actions and singing some of their favourite songs.
Two large classrooms, toilets with wheelchair access, a patio for outdoor activities and a new office are part of the extensions completed by Rotary Club of Helderberg, in partnership with Peninsula Beverages, local bottler and distributor of The Coca-Cola Company products in the Western and Northern Cape, Rotary Club of Newlands and several large and small sponsors.
The extension to the existing building, which cost more than R2 million, was completed last month.
Bizweni Centre has been operational for the past 18 years. It currently has 56 children in attendance, all of whom have physical, intellectual or developmental disabilities, such as autism, cerebral palsy, and Down’s syndrome.
The majority of the children come from homes where services like individualised occupational, speech and remedial therapy are increasingly difficult to obtain. For many of the children, placement at the appropriate special needs school will not be a possibility.
The newly-expanded unit will serve the needs of 30 of these children between the ages of 12 and 18 years old.
“Ideally we want to keep stimulating these children with social, educational and physical learning opportunities as they grow up so they are able to improve in all areas and ultimately enjoy the best possible quality of life,” says Vicky Hinrichsen, Bizweni Centre for Disabled Children project manager.
Children will learn basic computer skills, gardening, cooking and cleaning skills as well as how to write in the new unit of the centre.
The physical wellbeing of children at Bizweni is another vital part of the curriculum, where children are encouraged to develop their muscle strength and mobility under the guidance of carers.
Geraldine Nicol, district governor for Rot-ary District 9350 says: “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 handouts, but are offered with love and respect.
“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,” she added.
PenBev commercial director, John Joubert, adds: “The staff at Biz-weni are true heroes for bringing such joy into the lives of these children each day.
“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,” said Mr Joubert.