Our story really started in 2009, when a local family received funding from a generous corporate to visit a specialised therapy centre in Israel with their son who has down syndrome and his facilitator. The family came home inspired by all the progress their son had made over their month long visit, and envisioned that such a centre was exactly what Durban needed to serve other families and children with special needs. Within a few months of their returning home in early 2010, ICAN! opened in Musgrave, and offered integrated block therapy to children with special needs.
Over the next 18 months ICAN!’s clientele grew steadily as they witnessed the children flourishing with such intensive input. During this time, many of the children who attended the therapy centre were making great progress, but their parents were finding it increasingly difficult to continue this progress in the child’s school environment. Combined with this, many of the parents were experiencing increasing difficulty getting and/or keeping their children in school.
As a team of just 4 staff members we sat down and dreamed of what the ultimate school for children with special needs could look like. Moments after we had finished dreaming up this school together a mom with a desperate look in her eyes, walked in to our reception area and said ‘I heard you’re starting a school for children with disabilities, where can I sign my daughter up’. Thus started the journey that would not only change her daughter’s life, but the lives of hundreds of children with special needs in the years to come.
On January 20th, 2013, only three months from the day we had begun to dream of the ultimate centre and school for children with special needs, Khanyisa Centre opened its doors. A local church had heard of the need for a premises to house this new vision, and they graciously offered a house that was converted into a make shift school using furniture to suffice as our classroom division’s.
Within nine months our student enrolment had almost tripled, and we were bursting from the seams of the house we were operating from. This proved to be an early forecast of the things to come for Khanyisa, as the staff numbers and student numbers continued to grow rapidly.
Today Khanyisa Centre continues to serve the community with excellence and passion, and we know that this is only the beginning. The future is bright for children with special needs, and we are grateful for the daily journey of partnering together with families and our community as we pioneer a new way.