Empowering disabled learners

Rainbow Centre Principal Martha Hutchinson is on a mission to break barriers that stand in the way of learners with disabilities. With her are learners Likhona Antoni, Luleka Tshabane and Nadia Jantjies.                                          Photo:MONIQUE BASSON
Rainbow Centre Principal Martha Hutchinson is on a mission to break barriers that stand in the way of learners with disabilities. With her are learners Likhona Antoni, Luleka Tshabane and Nadia Jantjies. Photo:MONIQUE BASSON

A year of firsts: it is the very first time that learners can write in their own books, write the ABET exam and succeed, compete in drama, excel in chess and win gold at a choir festival.

And this is only the beginning.

Principal Martha Hutchinson and her dedicated team at the Rainbow Centre in Humansdorp are empowering learners with ‘special needs’ one day at a time to progress to higher levels of education through their never-ending compassion and hard work.

The Rainbow Centre is one of the four pillars of Victory4All and home to 106 learners with special needs, such as physical and mental disabilities or learning difficulties. Hutchinson is acutely aware of the extra hurdles these learners face.

“If we can harness the energy, resilience and the determination that these children have, the progress we can make will be huge,” she says. “It is of vital importance to equip all students to realise their full potential. They need the support of every member of the community.”

Finding multiple ways of exposing learners with disabilities to opportunities that will help them demonstrate their full potential, ten learners wrote their first ABET exam earlier this year. Six learners passed maths and four Afrikaans. Two learners achieved 73% for maths and Afrikaans respectively - - a major accomplishment for the school.

Not stopping there, a Xhosa class and individual learning where needed were implemented. Learners have competed in two choir competitions - achieving gold in one - and are avid chess players.

According to Hutchinson, one of the year’s highlights was a much-needed donation from the Kouga Wind Farm that was used to buy work books for all the learners.

“For the very first time, each learner has his own books to write in. They are now able to page back for reference purposes.”

Future dreams include swimming lessons, full-time counselling, art classes for younger learners, computer training and software to learn to read and write.

“All learners are worthy and have a precious role to fulfil in society, even though they have a difficult road ahead of them,” says Hutchinson.

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