Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 22 November 2019

Fujairah special needs centre to move to new home after facing closure

Staff at the Dimensions Centre say a generous donation has secured new premises

Tamara Tagliapietra, manager of the Dimensions Centre, said the new premises was a dream come true. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Tamara Tagliapietra, manager of the Dimensions Centre, said the new premises was a dream come true. Chris Whiteoak / The National

A vital special needs centre in Fujairah which received a remarkable reprieve after closing its doors a year ago is on the move to a brand new home - thanks to a generous donation.

The Dimensions Centre for children with special needs was forced to shut due to a lack of funds last May, only to be saved when businesses and members of the public rallied around.

Now staff at the centre, which offers a crucial lifeline to children with disabilities and their families across the emirate, has revealed a humanitarian foundation has offered them a new permanent home, with all rental fees and other expenses covered.

The Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi Humanitarian Works Foundation has supplied a three-storey villa which will provide children with ample space to play and learn.

The organisation was set up by the Ruler of Fujairah, Sheikh Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi, last December to offer financial assistance to needy causes.

Tamara Tagliapietra, ­the centre's manager, said the foundation's support has helped realise a longstanding dream to help children with intellectual disabilities.

She thanked the foundation and those who came to their rescue last May, as well as The National for highlighting their difficulties.

“Five years ago we had a vision for a huge centre for those with special needs and now our wish has come true, thanks to The National and the good people around the country,” said Ms Tagliapietra.

“I’m thrilled to announce that we will be moving to bigger premises by the end of June, a place that we can call home.

“The new villa is much bigger than the apartment we have now and will have playing areas for children and more therapy rooms and space to accommodate more children with special needs.”

Ms Tagliapietra said the foundation had been providing essential support to the centre for many months.

“We couldn’t have survived without their support and the help of other philanthropists who rallied to keep the centre open last year,” she said.

The new villa will have four large therapy rooms, indoor and outdoor playing areas and a lounge for parents to wait for their children along with a reception area and administration rooms.

“The therapy rooms are much bigger in space compared with the ones we have now, and the parents will have a dedicated waiting area that is larger than the current one,” said Ms Tagliapietra.

The Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi Humanitarian Works Foundation has provided new premises for the centre. Chris Whiteoak / The National
The Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi Humanitarian Works Foundation has provided new premises for the centre. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Parents were delighted to hear that the centre will soon have access to new facilities.

“It's very good news and I’m sure that this move will give our children more opportunity to develop their skills using various activities that are not limited to the therapy room only,” said Umm Manal, 32, the mother of Manal, 4, who is autistic.

“Manal joined the centre nine months ago and since then she has developed her communication and behavioural abilities and I’m very proud of her and of the centre’s efforts to teach her and care for her.”

The centre in Fujairah city opened in November 2015 with the goal of empowering children who suffer from various disorders, and to help them adjust to school.

Another mother of an autistic child said the new premises would allow therapists to be more creative in teaching the children.

“The centre is giving our children the chance to explore their abilities and develop them in a personalised way," said Umm Maktoum, 30, the mother of Maktoum, a four-year-old Emirati with autism. "It's not easy to find similar centres in the emirate.

“We were very happy to know that they will move to a villa and that means more children will have the chance to join the centre and benefit from its special services, just like our lucky children.”

Ms Tagliapietra said the centre was still offering many free sessions and discounts of up to 50 per cent, as many parents cannot afford to cover the fees.

Fifteen children aged between three and 15 are currently benefiting from the centre's services and are developing new skills with the help of therapists, while nine others are waiting to be sponsored in order to join the centre.

The organisation hopes to obtain additional sponsors to be able to offer their services to more children from families who cannot meet the cost of treatment.

Sessions cost Dh200 each while sponsoring a child can cost between Dh38,400 to Dh57,600 per year for between four and six sessions a week. The frequency depends on a child's disorder, age and the recommendations of medical experts.

“Many children are on the waiting list and we are always in need of sponsors,” said Ms Tagliapietra.

“We also hope to get new therapy tools and toys such as puzzle games, educational flashcards and musical toys. Small acts can make a huge difference in our children’s development and learning."

Updated: June 17, 2019 10:25 AM

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