Multiplying Compassion for Special Needs Children through a Strategic Summer

July 15, 2015

Ashley al-Saliby

BEIRUT: Can you try to picture our fast-paced world through the eyes of a small child, a world in which your peers grasp concepts more quickly or differently than you do, your teachers mistakenly identify your struggle as laziness or a bad attitude, and your parents develop shame-filled expectations about your future and potential? Can you imagine how hopelessness might begin to set in, if this was your childhood? What if you didn’t know how to explain your experience to your parents or teachers, or how to communicate the kind of help you need?

The reality described in this scenario is what the center for Smart Kids with Individual Learning Differences was designed to address.

The SKILD team maintains a packed schedule during the school year. They work in schools across Lebanon, as well as offering services to children and families at the SKILD center in Mansourieh through after-school therapy sessions. But the team doesn’t slow down during the summer! Instead, they utilize the unique opportunities that a summer schedule provides to advocate for and serve kids with learning differences in Lebanon.

One of the most valuable ways that the SKILD team multiplies their impact on behalf of children is to train and equip teachers. The concepts of “inclusive classrooms” and “student-based teaching strategies” have been uncommon in the Lebanese school system, and SKILD is on a mission to change that.

 An occupational therapist demonstrating to teachers how our ability to "locate our bodies in space" impacts our ability to read and write.

An occupational therapist demonstrating to teachers how our ability to “locate our bodies in space” impacts our ability to read and write.

Imagine the difference it will make in the lives of typically-marginalized kids with learning differences when their teachers embrace and apply the training they’re receiving this summer: “The impact of a teacher’s words on learners,” “accepting diversity in the school community,” “creating a welcoming and safe environment,”  “how to motivate learners,” and “the impact of emotional challenges on learning.”

Because of the work of the SKILD team this summer, the upcoming school year could be characterized by a whole new world of compassion, acceptance, and hope for Lebanese children with learning differences.

And in the meantime, they just might have had some intentional, customized fun.

At the SKILD center, children learn and have fun through methods that are customized to their unique needs.

At the SKILD center, children learn and have fun through methods that are customized to their unique needs.

While one part of the SKILD team works hard to train teachers and multiply compassion for kids with special needs throughout Lebanese classrooms, others on the SKILD team are spending time helping kids grow and develop during the summer months.

Special educators are providing a new service to families in the community this summer by offering fun, multi-sensory opportunities twice each week, with the goal of allowing kids with learning differences to “learn through play.” Afternoon activities include art, specially-designed craft projects, music and dancing, cooking, sensory scientific experiments, and more.

Maybe, if you’re a child with learning differences in Lebanon who had a particularly rough school year, this summer is when you’re beginning to experience new hope. Thanks to the loving efforts of the SKILD team, there’s much more where that came from!

Multiplying Compassion for Special Needs Children through a Strategic Summer

Summer learning at the SKILD center means activity and creativity in an environment designed to help kids thrive.

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