28 Apr Empowering Our Homes: Building Staff Capacity for Special Needs Care
“Nevertheless, I will bring health and healing to it; I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security.”
– Jeremiah 33:6
At Children of Hope, we have been dedicated to providing a safe, loving, and nurturing environment for all our children to grow and thrive. Our aunties and uncles work diligently to ensure that our children receive the best healthcare and treatments available for their needs.
When a child joins our home, we first take them to the doctor for a thorough medical assessment to ensure we learn of any current health concerns that need to be addressed for them. Many have come to us with delays in reaching the normal developmental milestones, thereby requiring intervention. We currently have seven children with special needs in our homes who are receiving specialized care and therapy, and are attending special classes in school to best support their needs. Along the journey, we have recognized the importance of equipping our staff with the necessary skills to better support all our children.
We decided to hold a comprehensive workshop focused on special needs children and led by professionals in the field to help provide more information and skills to our staff. This training took place at our Kikuyu home, where our aunties and uncles from Kitalale traveled six hours by bus to join their Kikuyu colleagues for the three-day workshop. It was a great time for team building and sharing of ideas.
The schedule was simple – a morning session from 9 am to 12 pm which was more informational, and an afternoon session from 2 pm to 4:30 pm were workshops where staff practiced newly learned skills together.
Day 1: Learning about Neurodivergence in Children
The first day was crucial as it laid the foundation for the rest of the training sessions to follow. The morning session was led by Dr. Duncan Chengo, a pediatric specialist with over 20 years of experience, who spoke about the various developmental stages and processes that children go through. He taught our aunties and uncles how to identify signs and symptoms of neurodivergence early on to help with quick intervention. He also emphasized how early intervention and treatment play a great role in the rehabilitation journey for the children.
The staff learned a lot from Dr. Chengo and were grateful for him leading the session. Dr. Chengo, in addition to practicing medicine, is also a lecturer and adjunct faculty member at Kenyan universities. He is the CEO of Ability Therapy Place Ltd, a company that provides support to schools, churches, institutions, and homes for creating an inclusive environment for neurodivergent children. In addition to this, Dr. Chengo runs a therapy clinic in Nairobi for providing different child therapy needs. We were so grateful for the time he took out of his busy schedule to teach our aunties and uncles.
In the afternoon, Mercy Moseti, a special needs teacher working at the Nairobi Hillcrest International School, led the workshop. Mercy currently works with us providing extra support to Daniel, Isaac, and Vivian at our Kikuyu home with their developmental needs. She taught our aunties and uncles different approaches to help children with special needs learn and retain information. She emphasized the importance of patience and individualized education plans in teaching neurodivergent children, as no two children have the same needs.
Our staff were quick to grasp the different approaches Mercy taught them, and are positive they will be able to help our children with their various needs.
Day 2: Learning about Children’s Special Needs
The morning started off with a session led by Mary Musyoki, a teacher at Special Education Program (SEP). The SEP supports special needs children in various schools by providing them with physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and more. Mary has a degree in occupational therapy and has over 9 years of experience working with children. She is very passionate about children with special needs and was eager to help our staff learn about the different types of needs children could have and what signs to look out for that identify developmental delays in children, such as dyslexia, down syndrome, and autism. She also shared how to intervene and advocate for the needs of these children. Mary’s class was interactive and used practical examples which made learning very enjoyable for all.
In the afternoon, a team from Adamo Orthopedics led the session. We have used this team to support our children with orthopedic equipment needs, like walkers, shoe orthotic inserts, Ground Ankle Foot Orthosis (GRAFOS), prosthetics, and more. The team explained how the equipment aids a child’s rehabilitation journey and provided context on how to best use them and the difference it can make in a child’s mobility. Our staff asked a lot of questions and the team was happy to answer them. It was wonderful to see all the aunties and uncles gain knowledge about the impact these devices have in a child’s life and how it helps them develop. Overall, it was a very informative and productive day for our homes.
Day 3: Final Day of Practical Training
Dr. Chengo was back again to lead his final session. He spent the morning delving deeper into the causes and behaviors of neurodivergence in children. Our aunties and uncles thoroughly enjoyed the session and asked a lot of questions about being a caregiver for children on the autism spectrum.
Dr. Chengo went on to explain that in order to provide the children with optimal care, the caregivers need to look for the root of the cause that is upsetting the child, and remove the triggering stimuli from the environment. He also explained the crucial need for intense therapy for these children since their hypersensitive nature needs to be managed for them to learn to better function in the environment around them.
Overall, the training workshop was a success and provided our aunties and uncles with the knowledge, tools, and skills needed to help our children thrive and hit their developmental milestones respectively. We’re so thankful to Dr. Chengo, Mercy Moseti, Mary Musyoki, David, and Adamo Orthopaedics for donating their time to share their knowledge and skills with our staff.
Getting to watch our children overcome their challenges and make great strides has been an incredible blessing. We are eternally thankful for all your love, support, and generous gifts. If you would like to support us in covering the extra costs of providing specialized therapies, prosthetics, etc. for our children with special needs, make a donation to our general fund here and make a note in the comment section for your gift.