The public got the opportunity to visit and see firsthand the operation at The Schoolhouse for Special Needs Inc. which caters for students who are developmentally, physically and intellectually challenged.
During its annual open day, prospective parents, associates in the field, stakeholders and the public got to browse the classroom and interact with teachers and students at its Brittons Hill location.
Principal of the school Yasmin Vlahakis told Barbados TODAY that the school has grown by leaps and bounds since opening in 2006.
“It started with a school of two [and] we now have a roll of 21. Our intention is to work on developing the skills of our students with special needs but while doing [so], we focus on the academics and then we build on life skills on how they take care of themselves.”
She said that the school recently added the Cottage Industry to its curriculum, which focuses on developing career opportunities for students through Art and Craft.
“We are trying to create situations where the young people with special needs mature to find opportunities for themselves, create those opportunities and give them skills [so] that they can earn and be successful in the creative society,” she added.
Vlahakis explained this was necessary because there is no cut off age for students, so they had to be creative in finding things for them to do, “We recognized that we could not keep them in the same routine, we realized that we need to give them some new skills.”
She also noted that she has seen a greater acceptance of people with special needs in Barbados. “It is happening… the pace has quickened in recent years, but it has been a long slow process. [There is more] awareness that is being shown through media and with this new Government, this sector is a very crucial part of the development of Barbados.”
Minister of Culture John King purchased two of the art pieces that were on display for exhibition and for purchase. Vlahakis commented that the proceeds would go towards the school’s scholarship fund. (KB)