New school could bridge gap

2018-07-25 06:02
Some members of a craft team at the Vusisizwe Resource Centre are, from the left, Thabo Sesing, Khotso Musa, Gregory Reid, Makhosazana Makhunga and Nthabiseng Kamo. Photos: Boipelo Mere

Some members of a craft team at the Vusisizwe Resource Centre are, from the left, Thabo Sesing, Khotso Musa, Gregory Reid, Makhosazana Makhunga and Nthabiseng Kamo. Photos: Boipelo Mere

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He made a habit of coming to the Express Northern Cape office to collect old newspapers, and surprised many when he gave the receptionist a pair of specially designed earrings as a token of appreciation.

He started collecting the newspapers religiously for a specific reasonThat is when it dawned why Vusi Chitsinde has been religiously coming to collect the newspapers, including the work he is involved with, with the collected newspapers.

Vusi Chitsinde is changing the lives of the vulnerable by opening a school in Kimberley that he believes will increase awareness about autism and fight living in change the lives of those in his community, and denial.

The old newspapers play a big role in school activities, which involve news­paper crafting to empower children and adults at the Tsebo School for Autism.

Chitsinde’s dream to open the school developed as a result of his son, Tsebo Maphate, being diagnosed with autism at the age of four and Chitsinde having to find the right educational institution for him.

“We tend to be in denial, due to lack of awareness, and we easily get convinced that it is witchcraft,” Chitsinde said.

He said his son’s milestones had been reached later than those of his peers, leading to the diagnosis of low-level autism.

“As he was still wearing diapers at the age of four, we struggled to find the right preschool and mainstream school.”

The Tsebo School for Autism will fall under the umbrella of the Vusisizwe Resource Centre, which has been running awareness programmes and presenting newspaper crafting classes.

Chitsinde is the chief executive officer of the Vusisizwe Centre.

The construction of the Tsebo School for Autism will start in 2019 in the Frances Baard Region, and the aim is to eventually extend the school’s reach.

Only two schools for autism exist in South Africa, namely the Unica School in Gauteng and the Vera School for Autism in the Western Cape. Unica which is Gauteng province and Vera which is

“Those schools only accept children who are from their province. Even if you are from the specific province, there is little guarantee that your child will be accepted, because of the long waiting list.”

The centre reportedly receives support from government departments, banks and trusts to make the project a success. Currently situated at the old Nedbank building, According to Chitsinde, he managed to secure funding from the National Lotteries Commission.

“The costs need to be kept low in order to meet the parents halfway. We must be able to speak in one voice to create opportunities for everyone.”

According to Chitsinde, the early childhood development programme will accept only five children from each phase (low, medium and high support), while the news­paper crafting programme will accept ten adults aged 18 to 60. They will be trained and permanently employed.

“The school will be equipped with a social worker, nurse, teachers and assistant teachers, as well as parents employed as part of support groups.”

The Adult School Phase to equip with newspaper crafting skills.

They are working with local special schools, who will feed them with students.

The Vusisizwe Centre is because of the limited Lotto budgetplanning an awareness outreach event for 2019 on World Autism Day, which is commemorated on 2 April each year.

Although the awareness programmes are currently restricted He says they are currently only running the awareness proto the Frances Baard region, tThe centre hopes that the awareness programmes will expand to other districts if the funding increases.

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