Dagbreek leads the way

National Disability Day commemmorated
Yolanda Nel
Raising awareness helps the average person understand that people live differently, not by choice, but due to various limitations.
This is the core message Ndunge Iyambo from Dagbreek School for the intellectually impaired in Windhoek, shared on National Disability Day, celebrated on 10 June.
Iyambo emphasised that raising awareness is not merely about informing people but about imparting knowledge and sharing the experiences of those living with disabilities, particularly intellectual and learning disabilities, which are the primary focus at Dagbreek.
Individuals with disabilities often have to find alternative ways to navigate their daily lives, which many people without disabilities might take for granted.
By raising awareness, society can open doors for those with disabilities, giving them a voice and the recognition they deserve. This understanding is essential for successfully integrating individuals with disabilities into our working societies, ensuring they have access and opportunities to thrive.
Dagbreek's efforts
Iyambo detailed Dagbreek's focus on support. The school not only raises awareness about the existence of the school but also emphasises the unique needs of its students, who live with learning disabilities and disorders.
"Our school cannot run like an average mainstream school. We have special needs that must be catered for in specific ways," she explained. For instance, Dagbreek often seeks sponsorship for essential items like wheelchairs, highlighting the need for monetary and material support to help the children.
Raising awareness at Dagbreek is about garnering the support needed to provide their students with the best care and education.
Iyambo introduced the concept of Dagbreek as an asset-based school. Unlike mainstream schools that focus on improving what a child cannot do, Dagbreek invests in what the child is strong and capable of.
"We seek out the child's assets, their strong points, and nurture those," she explained. If a child excels in singing, Dagbreek will focus on developing that talent. Similarly, if a child is fond of animals, they are encouraged to take advantage of the school's farm.
Children are exposed to various activities from the initial stages to identify their strengths. As they progress through the school's phases (as opposed to traditional grades), they are guided into areas where they show the most interest and aptitude.
Dagbreek has several projects to support their students and ensure they have skills for a successful future. These include a self-sufficient garden where produce is used in the school's kitchen and sold to the public, a car wash, and caring for horses.
"We assess where each child will flourish and give them the necessary skills for that industry, whether gardening or brick making," Iyambo said. The school also plans to expand its projects to include manicures and pedicures.
"Our students remain here until the age of 21 and also engage in job placements. This ensures that the students and future employers know they are ready and able to be successful candidates in the workforce."