NUR-SULTAN – A kindergarten in the nation’s capital for children with special needs, including those on the autism spectrum, is appealing to the public for funding to stay open.
The kindergarten opened in 2018 and teaches 75 children, 20 of which are on the autistic spectrum. The kindergarten includes six educational groups, of which three groups are inclusive and one is correctional for children with mental retardation and speech development delay.
School Director Zhannel Shaimardanova opened the kindergarten after her son was diagnosed with developmental delays.
“Because of the diagnosis, no kindergarten wanted to accept him. I had to ensure my son passes a rehabilitation programme with expensive specialists in private centres, where I paid 150,000 tenge (US$385.6) per month for a half-day stay. That is when I had the idea to open a special kindergarten that accepts children with autism,” explained Shaimardanova on her Facebook page. “I managed to work at EXPO, which was a pivotal point for me in deciding to open the kindergarten, because the embassies being grateful for my work donated the pavilions’ equipment and property. I found a room that I rent to this day, brought furniture there and found teachers.”
The project is unique in that children without disabilities are brought up together with children who receive special care of the same quality as in rehabilitation centres. The centre has 21 employees, including teachers, a psychologist, a speech therapist, a neurologist and other specialists.
“In the summer, we developed a new occupational therapy method we called ‘Greenhouse in Rehabilitation’ for the development of social, communicative and motor skills, as well as for the improvement of understanding nature and establishing a relationship with it; this helps ordinary children growing up in urban conditions,” wrote Shaimardanova on her Facebook page.
The centre received a three million tenge (US$ 7,711.35) grant from the Road Map 2020 state programme and donations from foreign embassies in the Kazakh capital to help with startup costs. The school is also competing to receive additional state funding. But Shaimardanova says she is no longer able to pay the 600,000 tenge (US$1,542) per month rent and other monthly expenses herself, reports elorda.info.
“I cover all the main expenses myself. I have already sold my car, and I am currently looking for sponsors. I am an engineer with seven years of experience in the oil and gas sector, nevertheless, I enrolled in a clinical psychology degree at the National Research Institute of Continuing Professional Education in Moscow, because it is both necessary and important for me to know how to work with my son. He is already six years old,” Shaimardanova said.
“Sponsorship funds are necessary, firstly, to repair the boiler room, to buy a heating boiler and to buy coal. We also need to repair the electric cable,” she explained. “We are looking for funds to purchase technical equipment and to equip the correction rooms, and to develop a methodological plan for preschool organisations, since officially, apart from laws, we still do not have a methodological protocol on how to create a necessary inclusive environment or how to introduce special children to the educational process.”
In addition to caring for the kindergarten attendees, Shaimardanova supports her employees, among whom are mothers of large families and people with disabilities.
“I really hope there are people who will help us overcome our temporary difficulties. If you decide to support our inclusive kindergarten, please send funds to our official bank accounts below, or repost it. Thank you,” she concluded in her Facebook post.
One can email [email protected] for more information.