professional Special Needs School for volunteers with specialist interest in special needs
This special needs school operates under excellent leadership that has secured funding and support from local government to provide a level of facilities and staff expertise that is rare in Mexico. The school aims to follow the State curriculum, adapted to suit the needs of the children. Currently it has supports c.50 children who come for schooling with a variety of disabilities, from Downs Syndrome, to autism and deafness.
Another 15 young adults aged 16-25 years old attend workshops designed to teach skills that will enable them to get work in the community, such as handicrafts, laying tables in the restaurants or even working in car washes. This is an excellent but rare initiative in countries such as Mexico.
The school has a kindergarten facility, so caters for children from the age of one upwards, with 5-10 children in each age group. The nature of their special needs mean the staff are always stretched and the help of volunteers provides more capacity for staff, and a higher level of engagement with the children.
This special needs school would be ideal for less experienced volunteers wanting to gain experience working with children with special needs, learning alongside qualified professionals.
Experienced professionals would be very welcome for the difference skills, experiences and practices they can bring, but would only be able to lead programmes after having them reviewed and signed off locally. The procedure for doing this takes 15 days, so this would be suitable for volunteers staying at least 2 months.
Volunteers at the special needs school assist the permanent staff with a wide range of activities, including classroom learning, structured and unstructured play, supervising activities, facilitating excursions such as swimming, teaching English, basic arts and crafts, and helping with games.
These activities are normally undertaken as whole class activities with volunteers usefully providing more individual support and supervision to the children. If volunteers have any experience working with autistic children and special needs children, then they will be of particular help. Qualified physiotherapists, OTs and art therapists would be able to work more autonomously, after approval of any programme they wish to deliver.
This is an important project and has proved to be particularly rewarding to patient, dedicated volunteers. As with many volunteer projects, your enthusiasm and interests will be the deciding factor of how much you become involved in the multiple activities of the school.
Volunteers help improve the ratio of staff to students, meaning each child and young adult gets that bit more time, care and attention, whether to play or learn through activities and therapy. The fresh energy of volunteers can have a significant impact in this way, augmenting the solid long term care of local staff. In a society that has a prejudice against those with disabilities and special needs, the interest and engagement of volunteers helps support the self-esteem of this group of individuals.
This project may not be for everyone, but it certainly was for me. If you are open to new experiences and love living in and experiencing a different cultural lifestyle, this project is right for you, Career break, Mexico