ABU DHABI // A group of Emiratis have received internationally recognised certificates for completing their training on how to work with people who have special needs.
The ceremony on Wednesday at the Zayed Higher Organization for Humanitarian Care saw 43 newly qualified instructors receive the awards.
The workshops taught participants how to accommodate people with a wide range of special needs, from autism to cerebral palsy.
"I signed up to the workshops because I wanted to do work that would help people with special needs become more active in our society," said Wafa Al Mandry, a 28-year-old Emirati. "The training we got helped me to understand the needs of people with disabilities and how I could help them."
The workshops, which begun in 2007, ran in Al Ain and Abu Dhabi, in partnership with German International Co-operation (GIZ), which is owned by the German government, and the German and Emirati Joint Council of Industry and Commerce, a bilateral group.
The project's goal is to get more people with special needs to find jobs and play an active role in society. "But to do that you need to have people who have the right training to instruct people with special needs and that was the reason we started this course," said Lina Chihabi, marketing manager for GIZ.
"The workshops were run on a vocational basis for things like welding, carpentry and making jewellery," she said. "So it's important that the trainee instructors know how to teach people with special needs in a safe environment."
The instructors learnt how to identify the strengths and weaknesses of individuals, and to direct them to the activity that they were best suited to perform.
"People think that if you have a disability that means you can't do anything, but that's not the case," said Talal Qasem, 25.
He plans to continue working with the centre in Abu Dhabi.
"People with special needs just need to get the right kind of training and support, and they are just as valuable to society as anyone else," Mr Qasem said. "Things are really starting to change here regarding how people with special needs are perceived, and it is becoming a lot more open."
During the daily workshops, the instructors learnt how to work with the tools and equipment that disabled people can use.
The certificates are accredited by the German government and meet European standards.
"This project is a unique one in the emirate of Abu Dhabi which only through the high dedication and willingness of Zayed Higher Organization was made possible," said Juergen Koch, the regional director of GIZ in the Gulf.