Making a change at Side by Side

A group of 33 volunteering employees of the Capricorn Group, in their role as Changemakers, recently spent the morning at the Side by Side Early Intervention Centre for special needs children in the Goreangab community.
During their visit they offered support to the centre by creating an outdoor sensory path, used to assist children with sensory integration issues to improve cognitive abilities; painting chalkboards and painting tyre planting beds in the garden. They also spent one-on-one time with the children at the centre, carrying out fun development activities.
Prior to the visit, Capricorn Group also sponsored the construction of three ramps at the centre to improve the mobility for wheelchair users to access classrooms and navigate all areas of the centre.
The day was filled with engagement, play, laughter, hard work and gratitude. The social interactions were very meaningful to the children, teachers and volunteers at the centre.
“All children need love, support and care; and for kids with special needs, a positive environment can help ensure that they maintain a strong sense of self-worth and build confidence. Our experience here was eye-opening, especially how the very committed and passionate staff at the Centre view, what many would classify as disabilities, as superpowers,” said Marlize Horn, Group Executive: Brand & Corporate Affairs. “It’s beautiful to see how each child, individually, is encouraged to develop at their own pace and become the best version of themselves that they can. “The Capricorn Group Changemaker outreach programme provides our employees with platforms like these visits, to volunteer their time and to show what it means to be Connectors of Positive Change.”
The Side by Side Early Intervention Centre is a registered non-profit organization, providing early childhood development opportunities to children with special needs with a focus on training parents, communities, and caregivers to provide their children with the support they need at home. Due to the national lack of focus on Early Intervention and Pre–Primary education for children with disabilities, Side by Side has stepped in to provide this much-needed support. Unfortunately, the lack of financial and in-kind support means that meeting the ever-growing need for intervention for children with disabilities in Namibian communities is extremely challenging.
Currently the centre provides:
• A daycare centre (open from Mondays to Fridays) that caters for 30 children with multiple or severe disabilities;
• Early intervention sessions, accommodating 44 families, helping babies and toddlers to achieve their developmental milestones;
• A neuro natal clinic every Thursday to follow up on children born with a high chance of having developmental delays;
• Home visits carried out in Okuryangava, Khomasdal and Goreangab;
• Workshops throughout the year, providing staff, parents, class assistants and kindergarten teachers training on Early Childhood Development topics; and
• Special school readiness, focusing on preparing children to enter a special needs or mainstream schools.
Speaking to the Capricorn Group Changemaker team, Huipie van Wyk, director at Side by Side, said that all children with special needs see themselves as superheroes and believe that there is nothing that they can’t achieve.
“Those of us who don’t have disabilities have the responsibility to keep encouraging them to be the superheroes they see themselves as and to learn, from them, to not give up on our own dreams.” She added that, “parents who have children with special needs should count themselves blessed and realise the beauty and richness their child brings to them and the world. These children love unconditionally, and we can also do with more love in the world.”
The plight of the centre was introduced to Capricorn Group through Imago Dei, the Group’s CSR partner.