Beirut, October 21 2014:
Under the patronage of H.E. the Minister of Education, Elias Abou Saab, represented by Dr. Fadi Yarak, Director General of Education; OpenMinds and the Lebanon Evangelical School for Boys and Girls (LES) have launched two innovative programs: the Functional Academic Programs (FAP) and the Applied Life Skills Program (ALSP), both dedicated to students with different learning difficulties and special needs. Also in attendance were key figures in the success of the programs: Dr. Ziyad Ghazzal, Deputy Vice President and Deputy Dean, representing Dean Mohamad Sayegh from AUBMC as well as Mr. Mohamed Choucair , President of the Chamber of Commerce.
These programs, run by special education professionals, aim at making a profound difference in educational settings by providing effective teaching and training to special needs students. The ultimate goal is the transitioning of the students into society with real marketable skills. The programs will also try to identify job opportunities in safe environments within the community, and to match each student’s skills with an appropriate job.
18 students aged 12 to 16 have already been enrolled in these programs for this academic year. OpenMinds funded the complete renovation of an area of 521 square meters in less than 40 days, making this dream a reality.
Commenting on the occasion, Mrs. Ghida Rabbat, President of OpenMinds, stated: “We at OpenMinds hope that the creation of such program facilities in a mainstream school can act as a model for other schools to follow in integrating and promoting the needs of special students.”
“We deeply appreciate the willingness of the LES management to open its doors to such essential programs, and the fact that it values the wealth of experience such programs bring to the school’s entire population,” she continued.
The project comes as one of many efforts conducted by OpenMinds. The NGO was established in 2013 and dedicates a substantial portion of its funds to promoting the Special Kids Clinic at the AUBMC by supporting research projects being conducted there, as well as helping with the diagnosis and treatment of children in financial need. The LES project falls under the NGO’s productive projects to raise awareness in the community.
Such projects aim to both empower individuals with special needs as well as to encourage their communities to accept differences through education and knowledge. The active members of OpenMinds strongly believe that every individual should have the right to become a productive member of society by reaching his or her potential in the most natural and least restrictive environment.